2008-08-27 / Star Journal

Daily Papers Once Flourished In Queens


Anyone born after 1968 is more than likely unaware of the Star Journal. The Star Journal was

the last daily newspaper circulated and printed for Queens. The paper was known for "informing the community about local and world news". While articles from the classic form the basis of an occasional column in other newspapers, for a full grasp of the Star Journal and where it came from, it's necesary to start from the beginning.

The Star Journal was born from the Long Island City Star, a local paper published from 1865 to 1896 by Thomas H. Todd, who started work in the office of the Flushing Journal. "With small capital, a Washington hand press and the necessary types and other appliances, the young prospector set up business on Vernon Avenue, near the corner of Fourth Street. (Finally located at 41 Borden Avenue). The faith of its founder was so strong that a thriving city was destined to spring up along the riverfront from Newtown Creek to Astoria and Bowery Bay, that he christened the newspaper venture 'The Long Island City Star and Newtown Advertiser'," sources relate.

Until 1876, the Long Island City Star was a weekly newspaper. Its publisher knew that to grow in popularity it must become a daily paper. "In the spring of 1876, the long contemplated plan of a daily issue was finally decided upon, and on Monday, March 28, the first number of the Long Island City Daily Star made its appearance." While no newspaper ever starts off running, the transition from weekly to daily was indeed a struggle for the Star. In the red and losing thousands of dollars for four years, the Star's recovery looked grim. "But the clouds of adversity were gradually broken and scattered and success finally won, and in the spring of 1880, the balance sheet made known the gratifying fact that the daily was 'paying its way'."

When the Long Island City Star began, the area of Long Island City only "had a population of some 7,000 to 8,000 souls". From humble beginnings the Star grew into a well respected newspaper "and is classed by popular verdict as ranking among the leading and influential papers of the Island".

John Hyslop, Assistant Division Manager of the Queens Library, said the most interesting thing about the early dailies was how "viscous" they could be. The early papers were covered in ads and usually only a third of the paper was actual articles; the articles written were for their time crude and had many qualities of "Fox News", with a one-sided, harsh view. One main topic written about most in the early years of the Star was then Long Island City re-elected, he was not popular with the locals, and the mud slinging that went on in the paper was constant, whether it was a writer for the paper showing how corrupt he was, or an "editorial" from a local woman speaking about how "the people of LIC are determined to defeat Gleason". With all the negative writing, the paper was basically simple. "They would have ads, world articles, things off the AP wire (Associated Press), local issues and editorials. As the papers evolved in the 20th century, you had more features and different sections (like the papers we read today)", Hyslop said.

Within every area, there was a local daily. Newtown and Long Island City shared the Star, Jamaica had the Long Island Press and Flushing had the Flushing Journal, which as stated, merged with the Star to create the Star Journal. Bob Singleton, a board member of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, said that these were not just daily papers, but that they changed the "dynamics of the human relationship" within the area. These papers catered to their neighbors, covering stories that they were interested in and brought the community full circle.

But these were not the only types of newspapers. Every area had publications that catered to more specific audiences. Political papers were quite popular in the Queens area and were monopolized by two strong opponents. There were political papers, like the Long Island Democrat and its counterpart, the Long Island Farmer (which changed its name in 1921 to the Long Island Daily Press and ran until 1977) ,as well as the Socialist Worker (which was started in 1841). These papers were famous for being very partisan, and would not beat around the bush on a topic, but rather call out the opposing view/paper specifically. Whether the bashing was on the Civil War or just on a local election, both papers told readers what they thought, and how they were right and everyone else was wrong.

But with all the success that these papers had, in the end they just could not contend. The Star Journal closed its doors in 1968 due to a strike by its workers who demanded higher wages and other benefits. In 1977, the Long Island Press was closed down due to the sad fact that while it became more expensive to put out the paper, less money was coming in, as well as labor troubles. This ended the longest running paper in Queens' history at 156 years (1821-1977). Newsday hired many of the old writers from the Press immediately after its closing.

Two months ago, the Star building at 42- 26 28th St. was torn down to make room for the Star Tower, which is a 25 story condo tower. While the building is gone, memories of the paper remain.

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