Nestled in the crux of the Cross Island Parkway and Belmont Raceway is the small village of Floral Park. Often confused with its next door neighbor, the Queens County neighborhood of Floral Park, the village is a part of Nassau County. The unique history of Floral Park village is that it is the product of a company town.
Born in Jay, Maine in 1853, John Lewis Childs arrived in the Queens County area known as Hinsdale in 1874 to work for C. L. Allen in his bulb and seed business. After one year he leased land and opened his own business. He advertised his business in leaflets and is thus credited with issuing the first plant catalogue in the US. This was the start of what was to become a major business for over fifty years.
As the business grew, he added hundreds of acres of land and his own printing plant, Mayflower Publishing. The railroad added a spur directly to his printing plant due to Mayflower Publishing’s enormous output. Continuing to flourish, Mr. Childs added additional farm acreage on both Long Island in St. James, and California in South Pasadena. The farmland in St. James still exists today under its original name, ‘Flowerfield’.
Besides being a seedsman, John Lewis Childs published books on plants, developed new varieties of plants, such as the gladiolus childsii named for him, and published a monthly gardening magazine, “The Mayflower”, from 1893 through 1916. The beginning of his business was growing and selling tulip bulbs and which is why today the main street in Floral Park is Tulip Avenue.
In 1899, the City of New York made up of the five boroughs was established and gigantic Queens County was divided. The western portion became a part of New York City, while its eastern portion was renamed Nassau County and remained independent.
In its early days, the Hinsdale area, then in the center of Queens County, existed as a conglomeration of various small farms, mostly providing seeds and plants for sale. By 1908, it was located in western Nassau County and sufficiently populated that it became an incorporated village - Floral Park.