P.S. 149 in Queens at 93-11 34th Ave, Jackson Heights NY 11372, on the block
formed by Northern Boulevard, 34th Avenue, 93rd Street, and 94th Street,
March 2018. Photo by Anonymous. The school was built with Federal Public
Works Administration grants and loans[1,2] (paying materials and work-relief
labor) between 1934 and 1936. The west side of the school on 93rd Street is
shown; I believe the lower part at left is a later addition.
"Modern construction in Public School 149, Queens, includes windows running
to the ceiling to admit the maximum of light and air, gymnasiums and
auditoriums ... Throughout the State and throughout the nation, men have
been busy for months building this equipment. In the mines and forests of
the West, workmen were recalled to their jobs to produce ore, stone and
lumber. Then in the mills and factories of the Middle West more men were
busied turning these into steel, cement and lumber. And finally, skilled
craftsmen of the East turned out the desks and chairs, tilework, windows
shades; the toold for the shops, as intricate lathes and milling machines,
and the thousands and one other types of equipment used in training students
to cope with the present-day world."
In 1964 the school was a flashpoint in the Civil Rights era, the scene of
white backlash, lawsuits, and sitins at the Board of Education's plan to
integrate the school, as well as protests by civil rights groups that it was
only token integration[3,4]. "For the first time in the history of the
modern civil rights movement, white parents in a northern city established a
private school to avoid the consequences of a desegregation plan."
Although segregated schools had been illegal in New York City since 1920,
housing patterns ensured a racially segregated and unequal school system.
Of course not all schools fit this pattern; for example DeWitt
Clinton High School in the Bronx had been integrated since at least as far
back as 1905.
P.S. 149 is currently known as Q149 The Christa Mcauliffe
PWA Funds Granted - $1,418,700 Allotted for 3 Schools and New Wing for Hospital,
New York Times, 27 Sep 1934.
School Aid Hailed by Tuttle - $34,500,000 Received by City for Work in
New York Times, 26 Jan 1936., Section 2, pages 1 and 8.
Threatening Arrests in Sit-In at Queens School, New York Times,
7 Oct 1964. The school was not totally segregeted but it was overwhelmingly
white. The Board of Ed plan paired it with another school, P.S. 92, only
six blocks away that was almost totally Black and Puerto Rican.
- Fred Prowledge, Mason
Dixon Line in Queens,
New York Times, 10 May 1964.
- Yasmeen Khan, "Demand for School
Integration Leads to Massive 1964 Boycott — In New York City",
WNYC, 3 Feb 2016. Commemorating the 52nd anniversary of "the largest civil
rights protest in U.S. History".
- Gerard J. Pelisson and James A. Garvey III, The Castle on the
Parkway — The story of New York City's DeWitt Clinton High School and
its Extraordinary Influence on American Life, The Hutch Press (2009, 2012).
- Jerald E. Podair, The Strike That Changed New York, Yale
University Press (2008), p.29.
The Way It Is, 1975 video, and a June 21, 2020,
article about it. This was a completely
different area of Queens, but just as racist as Jackson Heights was.