3. Flushing Was America’s Premiere Horticultural Center
According to the NYC Department of Parks, Flushing was reputed as “America’s premiere horticultural center” throughout most of the 18th and 19th century. In 1794, William Prince established the first commercial tree nursery in North America at the park, on what is now Northern Boulevard (between Flushing Creek and Prince Street), which catered to “exclusive” clientele like King William IV of England, George Washington and Lewis and Clark.
Four decades later, Samuel Parsons would also develop a nursery in the northern section of Kissena Park, which—like Prince’s plot—had a notable customer base (landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux purchased trees from him to use for Central and Prospect Parks). Today, we have Parsons to thank for introducing a variety of exotic trees to the United States, including the Japanese maple and the weeping beech.