Jack Eichenbaum, Queens Borough Historian

Jack Eichenbaum, Queens Borough Historian

jack-eichenbaumJack Eichenbaum is not only the official Queens Borough Historian, but also an original charter member of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.  Jack works closely with the Chamber to organize walking tours of Flushing and to promote all the wonderful history and culture in our community.  You can catch one of his many New York City neighborhood tours at geognyc.com.

For much of his career, Jack Eichenbaum worked in the Property Division of the NYC Department of Finance, collecting data and modeling valuation of tax parcels. Jack founded and coordinated GISMO, NYC’s geographic information systems (GIS) user group, actively participates in the Municipal Art Society, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Queens Historical Society, and teaches at Hunter College (CUNY).

Jack Eichenbaum completed his Ph.D. in urban geography from the University of Michigan in 1972 with a dissertation on “Magic, Mobility and Minorities in the Urban Drama.”  Jack is “a lifelong observer of NYC and other large cities around the world” and his “expertise lies particularly in quantitative methods, historical urban geography, migration, ethnicity, and technological change.”  He maintains “a storehouse of urban concepts, researched facts, and biased memories of bygone eras.”

As Queens Borough Historian, Jack Eichenbaum advises Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, convenes people and organizations concerned with Queens history, educates and promoting Queens’ history-related attractions and changing cultures, and works to expand the concept of “digital history.”  You can learn more about Jack Eichenbaum at geognyc.com. He can be reached at  jaconet@aol.com or 718-961-8406.

JackEichenbaumJack was recently profiled by the Queens Chronicle:

Jack Eichenbaum has lived in three foreign countries and four states besides New York, but to the Flushing native, Queens is home.

So much so, in fact, that in 2010, he was selected by a committee of archivists and historians to become Queens Borough Historian.

And Eichenbaum bemoans the fact that only a few structures remain from the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, not far from his place of birth.

That happened in Flushing Hospital, 73 years ago. Eichenbaum lives just eight blocks from there, in the same apartment he has called home since 1978.

Eichenbaum attended PS 31, JHS 74 and Bayside High School. On his way to class at JHS 74, he witnessed the construction of the Long Island Expressway along Horace Harding Boulevard.

Eichenbaum earned his Ph.D. in urban geography, which he taught at the University of Washington in Seattle in the early 1970s.

He has also taught a course called “Geography of New York City” at Hunter College and one called “Changing Neighborhoods of Queens” at Queens College.

Over the years, there is “virtually no neighborhood that has not changed,” he said, including “incredible ethnic changes.”

58235a9c602f9.imageHe has personally experienced the demographic transition from older folks of European heritage to younger Asians.

In 1970, he explained, the foreign-born population of New York City was 18 percent, and 12 percent in Queens. Today, the overall foreign population in the city is 37 percent; in Queens it’s a full 50 percent.

“It’s fascinating,” he said. “People here are from all over the world. They came here with some needed professions … doctors, engineers, lawyers. Immigrant small businesses saved the city.”

Flushing, he pointed out, went from 85 percent white to 85 percent Asian.

As far back as 40 years, he sensed that change in the borough was imminent.

“All the interesting people couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan,” he reasoned at the time. “In Long Island City, the subway was convenient, artists were moving in. They’re the leaders in how things go.”

Even after witnessing a lifetime of change, Eichenbaum remains a Queens-ite through and through.

“Somebody put me here,” he said, “and I’m staying.”

To read more, go to the Queens Chronicle.

 

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