Ozone Park is a working class neighborhood located in the southwestern section of the New York City’s borough of Queens bordering Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, and Howard Beach. Different parts of the neighborhood are covered by Queens Community Board 9 and 10.
The northern border is Atlantic Avenue; the southern border is South Conduit Avenue, and the eastern border is 108th Street. The western border is the county line with Brooklyn (mostly along Ruby and Drew Streets). It is the home of the Aqueduct Racetrack, a popular spot for thoroughbred racing.
During the 1870s, an economic depression caused residents of New York City to look for better housing opportunities in the suburbs of Manhattan and Brooklyn where it would be cheaper. Two partners, Benjamin W. Hitchcock and Charles C. Denton, first began carving farmland into building lots. They were able to do this because of their wealth and substantial capital. Housing was first developed in the area after the Long Island Rail Road began service through the area in 1880 as part of its route from Long Island City to Howard Beach. Ozone Park was created and settled in 1882. The name “Ozone Park” was chosen to “lure buyers with the idea of refreshing breezes blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean to a park-like community.” Ozone Park was considered the country to all those that lived in Manhattan.] Ozone Park was also a very serene place to have loved ones rest in peace, in what was termed the country. Before the turn of the 20th century, there was an attempt to develop up to nine neighborhoods with the “park” title. Ozone Park was the only one these neighborhoods that continues to exist mostly because of the daily service at the now-defunct Ozone Park station on the Long Island Railroad. The name persisted because of the many commuters who passed through the Ozone Park station and referred to it as an important landmark. The railroad station was also responsible for the increasing development of the neighborhood because the access to the railroad allowed people to get into the city easily, increasing its popularity among families looking to move into a suburb.
The final improvement to the local transit system was the elevated railroad line at Liberty Avenue in 1914. In addition to this railroad station came the nickel fare which was another major factor in the development of Ozone Park. The nickel fare gave residents the ability to travel anywhere along the railroad line for a set price of 5¢. This new fare was considered to be the “single most effective stimulus to home building” in the Ozone Park area because the real estate developers began buying up all the lots on either side of Liberty Avenue in hopes the new station would attract more people to want to live in Ozone Park.
Historic clock tower built during the 1860s that is a relatively small remnant of the Lalance & Grosjean porcelain enamelware factory complex on Atlantic Avenue at north end of Ozone Park or, alternatively, the south end of Woodhaven that was mostly razed in the 1980s and is now ”adaptively reused” as a medical clinic.
Prior to 1922, Woodhaven Boulevard was the only important north-south street in town. Then officials decided to expand Woodhaven Boulevard all the way south to the Rockaways and finally opened to traffic in 1925. This made Ozone Park more accessible by both bus and car. Since cars were also becoming more popular at this time, the land became much more valuable leading to a construction boom in an attempt to fill any empty lot. Between the years of 1921 and 1930, Ozone Park saw a population increase of over 180% from 40,000 to 112,950 people. With this extraordinary increase in population came the need for schools and sources of entertainment. In response to this demand came the construction of John Adams High School in 1930. This school was built came right as the construction boom slowed down and right before the Great Depression. John Adams High School is still open today. Furthermore, in 1925 the development of the Cross-Bay Movie Theatre gave residents the ability to go and see a show while also connecting with neighbors.
One infamous area of Ozone Park is known as “the hole” which is a term that is used for areas of Ozone Park where houses are below grade. In the 1930s the city of New York decided to install sewers and sewer lines in Ozone Park to stop the serious flooding that was a major problem. In order to install the sewers the houses had to be raised almost an entire floor. Owners were given a stipend to raise their homes but some chose not to raise them leaving them down under. The first floors of some homes subsequently became basements. This area was mostly on 75th, 76th, 77th and 78th streets, although there are still a few homes that are below grade that still have not been raised to this day.
Since its beginnings, Ozone Park has been largely populated by different groups of immigrants. Germans and Irish made up a large part of Ozone Park in the late 19th century and early 20th century. By 1910 the Italians, who were one of the largest ethnic groups in the neighborhood from 1915–1983, started to migrate into Ozone Park from East New York, Brooklyn. Most of the current Italians in the neighborhood are originally from Brooklyn. Fears of changing neighborhoods caused a stir amongst the Italians that caused them to move into Ozone Park, which at the time was mostly German’s and Irish who had migrated themselves from neighboring East New York. Census from the early years showed how Ozone Park was a sparsely lived in neighborhood because of the lack of transportation. By 1915 the Fulton Street Line opened, connecting Ozone Park with the rest of NYC, thus starting the enormous growth by the Italians. Ozone Park then formed many smaller neighborhoods within a neighborhood, trying for separate identities. The Tudor Village section, which is still known by this name, was located on the south bordered by Pitkin Ave and North Conduit Ave and from East to West Cross Bay Blvd and North Conduit Ave. Centerville, which also still uses this name, is bordered by Aqueduct, on the East, and Cross Bay Blvd on the West and North Conduit Ave on the South and Rockaway Blvd on the North. Liberty Heights, which is only known by the old timers, was bordered by Liberty Ave on the South and 101 Ave (Jerome Ave) on the North side and Woodhaven Blvd on the East and Drew Street on the West. Balsam Village, which is also known by the old timers, was named after the farm Balsam Farms after selling off parcels of land for development, is bordered by Liberty Ave on the North and 84 Street on the West and Crossbay Blvd on the East.
At the turn of the 21st century immigrants from Latin America, South Asia (Bangladesh), the West Indies and South America (Indo-Guyanese & Indo-Surinamese) have moved in, adding a diverse atmosphere to the neighborhood, which is especially apparent along 101st Avenue and Liberty Avenue near the neighborhood’s border with Richmond Hill. These new arrivals have made Ozone Park become one of the fastest-growing and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York City. Aside from these larger groups, there is a large Hispanic population in Ozone Park, mainly concentrated in the northern portion of the neighborhood near the Woodhaven border, and an African-American minority, spread throughout the neighborhood.
Residents vary from working-class to middle-class families, who own or rent private homes on the neighborhood’s tree-lined residential streets. There are pockets of wealthier areas in the southern part of the neighborhood close to the Belt Parkway.
There are many bus routes that run through Ozone Park. The Q7 runs on Rockaway Boulevard, Q21 and Q41 run on Cross Bay Boulevard, Q11 up Woodhaven Boulevard,Q112 on Liberty Avenue, the Q8 on 101st Avenue, and the Q24 on Atlantic Avenue. The Q53 also runs on Woodhaven Boulevard and Cross Bay Boulevard, but stops only at Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard.
The New York City Subway’s IND Fulton Street Line (A) runs along Liberty Avenue, and becomes elevated upon entering the neighborhood from Brooklyn. The station at Rockaway Boulevard is a major junction between trains heading towards the Ozone Park-Lefferts Boulevard station and trains heading to Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue, an often confusing or unknown detail for tourists on their way to JFK Airport on the latter line.
- Boss of Bosses (starring Chazz Palminteri) features a scene with John Gotti in Ozone Park at the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club
- A Bronx Tale features a scene set at Aqueduct Racetrack
- Goodfellas is an Academy Award-winning gangster film that takes place in and around Ozone Park, Queens
- Lucky Number Slevin contains a scene at the beginning wherein the father and son are at Aqueduct Racetrack
- Searching for Bobby DeNiro (aka Movers and Fakers) was filmed in Aldos II Pizzeria in Ozone Park
- A Shock to the System (1990) contains a scene filmed in the old Aqueduct Raceway Station
- All in the Family’s (1970s TV sitcom) principals, Archie and Edith Bunker, had cousins who lived in Ozone Park
- Getting Gotti (1994 TV film starring Lorraine Bracco) is based on a real life woman, Diane Giacalone, who grew up in Ozone Park and through the years first-handedly watched Gotti rise to power on the streets of Ozone Park. She eventually became an Assistant US Attorney and built up a case against him.
- The The King Of Queens TV sitcom often contains scenes in which the old United Artists Cross Bay movie theatre on Rockaway Boulevard can be seen
- The Perfect Crimes History Channel documentary features the Lufthansa heist and discusses the Lucchese crime family crews living, killing and running businesses in Ozone Park
- The Sopranos character, Rusty Millio (played by Frankie Valli), lives in Ozone Park, as revealed in the episode “Live Free or Die”
- Jack Lord, from the 1960s Hawaii Five-0 TV series, attended John Adams High School, located on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park
- Pope John Paul II celebrated mass for 75,000 people at Ozone Park’s Aqueduct Racetrack in October 1995
- P.S. 63 Old South School
- P.S. 64 Joseph P. Addabbo School
- P.S. 65 The Raymond York Elementary School
- Middle School 137 America’s School-Heroes
- Junior High School 202 R. H. Goddard
- Robert H Goddard High School Of Technology and Communications 308
- Junior High School 210 Elizabeth Blackwell
- John Adams High School
- High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture
- St Elizabeth’s RC Elementary
- St Mary Gate of Heaven RC Elementary
- Divine Mercy Catholic Academy (originally Nativity B.V.M. and St. Stanislaus Schools, which were combined renamed in 2007)
- Little Dolphin Pre-School
- Our Lady of Perpetual Hope
- Our Lady’s Catholic Academy
- Our Lady of Wisdom RC Secondary
Notable current and former residents:
- Ray Abruzzo - Actor (The Sopranos)
- Joseph Patrick Addabbo - Congressman and has P.S. 64 named after him.
- Joseph Addabbo, Jr., member of the New York City Council from the 32nd Council District.
- Pedro Beato, relief pitcher of the New York Mets
- Charles Camarda - astronaut, Mission Specialist on STS-114
- The Capris - 1950s Doo Wop group. Smith / W.9th Street
- Gerald Edelman (1929-), 1972 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- Elizabeth Eden (1946–1987), Real life character of “Leon” from the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.
- Peter Facinelli - (born November 26, 1973), actor.
- John Frascatore (1970-), baseball player
- Diane Giacalone former Assistant U.S. Attorney and John Gotti prosecutor
- John Gotti (1940–2002) Mafia boss
- Neal Heaton (1960-), MLB baseball pitcher
- Carol Heiss (1940-), Olympics figure skater
- Jimmy Herring, middleweight boxer
- Jack Kerouac (1922–1969), writer. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he lived in Ozone Park with his parents after discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1943. He wrote his first novel, The Town and the City, as well as the quintessential On the Road while living in Ozone Park. His friends jokingly called him “The Wizard of Ozone Park”.
- Cyndi Lauper (1953-), singer/actress. (104th Street)
- Bernadette Peters (1948-), actress/singer.
- Peter Polaco, American professional wrestler better known by his ring name, “Justin Credible”.
- Nick Scotti - actor, singer, and model
- Anthony Trentacosta - Gambino Family
- Joe Lo Truglio (1970-), actor
- Eric Ulrich - member of the New York City Council from the 32nd Council District
- Thomas Von Essen - Senior Vice President at Giuliani Partners and 30th New York City Fire Commissioner.
- Debra Wilson (1962-), actress, comedienne, voice actress, and TV presenter