Bellerose, Queens, 1978


I sought out the time period specifically because I remembered being an early teen when our branch, at Bellerose, of the Queens library opened. It seemed it had been surrounded by bureaucratic red tape for so long (I had heard my parents and grandparents speak of it) and I couldn’t wait for it to open. Up until that happened, I had to travel to the Queens Village branch, which was further away and, at 12 years old, it was always dependent on what kind of mood my mom was in whether she’d let me go.

This newsletter portrays a very unfavorable picture of Bellerose teens. There’s one article entitled “War on hoodlums”, which, I guess, speaks pretty much for itself. It deals with getting community approval for better lighting and the fact that “strong action” was needed against the “troublemakers”. The youth are also called neighborhood punks, and vandals.  There is another article called “Danger: Open Manholes”. This has teenagers lifting manhole covers and playing dangerous “games” with passing cars. There’s also a personal piece, in the form of an anonymous letter, speaking harshly of the parents as well.  Obviously, this piece conveys a terrible example of the youth of the area. And that’s not how I remember it at all.

Possible connections between media and library policy? Well, I did say it was built and just waiting to open. It stood there, unopened since 1973-74, because of the city budget crisis at the time. According to the archive at the Central library, it was only after much effort by community activists that it finally opened on February 27, 1978. I’m not sure of the implications this causes. Perhaps community leaders painted the trouble teens as leverage for the library’s absolute necessity? I, personally, would prefer to show an image of successful teens as proof of library necessity.


One thought on “Bellerose, Queens, 1978

  1. Thanks for sharing Gloria! And intriguing question that makes me connect your final words with the portrayal of “can-teens” from the Teenage documentary. Also, from your own personal story, emerges a very important topic connected to youth, independence. Being able to move, to be independent is part of the growing process…how differently is to grow up in a urban environment, a rural one and the suburban in-between.


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