Maspeth is a residential community in Queens that few people outside of Queens or Brooklyn know about. Bordered by communities like Woodside, Sunnyside, Ridgewood, and Greenpoint, Maspeth is a rather large neighborhood with plenty of odd secrets.
Maspeth was founded in the early 17th century by Dutch settlers, who clashed with Mespeatches Indians who lived in the area. The name Maspeth is derived from their word for “overflowed by the tide,” referencing the many swamps in the area. The area was later called Middleburg, founded by Newtown Creek. Many roads were repaved after the Revolutionary War with oyster shells and wooden planks, and sections of the area were named Melvina and Columbusville. Maspeth attracted many immigrants from Poland and neighboring countries, including a population of Boyash Romani from Romania and Hungary.
Today, much of this history still remains, especially around Newtown Creek. Hagstrom Maps, a best-selling brand of road maps, were produced extensively in Maspeth. The Tudor-style Nassau Heights Homes date back to the 1930s. There are abandoned sites like a baseball stadium amid construction and industrial sites. And there are street names that pay homage to the neighborhood’s past, including Melvina Place and Plank Road. Though, Maspeth’s secrets are even more surprising and odd, such as the smallest park in New York City, unexpected film locations, many historically rich cemeteries, and a secret German spy ring. Here are the top 15 secrets of Maspeth!
1. The former Goodfellas Diner featured in a scene from the Martin Scorcese movie
At the corner of Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street in an industrial area of Maspeth was the Goodfellas Diner, which has been closed since 2018 following a massive fire. Originally the Clinton Diner, Goodfellas Diner was renamed after the release of the 1990 film. Two scenes from the movie were shot at the diner, both featuring Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. The scenes take place at a booth and the parking lot, the latter of which is where De Niro’s character discovers Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) was killed. The diner has also been featured in over 20 films and 30 television shows including The Good Wife, The Americans, and Master of None.
A fire in June 2018 destroyed much of the diner, which was converted from a former truck stop. The diner was with the Diamantis family from the mid-1980s until it closed after the fire. The diner was unable to recover from the damages, though the structure still stands today, with a crowded parking lot of abandoned trucks and other vehicles, and many still make the trek out to the diner to see the historic film site.