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1837 Long Island Rail Road Poster
From "Our Long Island"- Manello
A newspaper ad of 1837 for the Long Island Railroad. Railroads appeared on Long Island in the 1830s. In April 1836  a line was completed over a 10 mile stretch between Brooklyn and Jamaica.
Image of Toll Gate
Toll Gate at Van Wyck Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue (Demolished 1897) 
Rendered from Richmond Hill Record-3/6/36 
by William Krooss
European Settlers of Long Island NY 
By the year 1650 both the Dutch and British began establishing settlements. 

The native American Indians of Long Island were quickly replaced by large numbers of European settlers eager to establish communities in the New World. 

The Dutch encouraged immigrants to move to Long Island, granting them religious freedom and even allowing them to elect their own officials- provided, of course, they abided by Dutch laws. Permission was frequently granted to British settlers to set up towns in Dutch territory on Long Island. 

An area of Long Island now known as Jamaica was granted a charter resulting from just such a petition. At that time, the territory included what was called West Jamaica, which was to become Richmond Hill. The early settlers of Jamaica came from a community chartered previously on the Hempstead plains. Some of the inhabitants became dissatisfied with the Hempstead land and petitioned the Dutch three times for permission to work the more desirable tract and form a town called Jamaica. The farmers asked for "a tract of land called Conorasset (which) lyes from a river which divideth it from Canarsie Sea to the bounds of Hempstead and may contain about twenty families". The area had been purchased from the Indians for "two guns, a coat, and a certain quantity of powder and lead".                             

As the 18th century approached, the Dutch began losing ground from the British. What is today the state of New York became one of the major British colonies, and as decades passed, the descendants of the original Dutch and British settlers- who now considered themselves Americans- came to resent what they felt to be unfair taxation by a government across the sea. 

 When the American Revolution broke out  in 1775, the residents of New York formed a government, the "Provincial Congress" and asked for delegates from all counties. Jamaica (including what would later be Richmond Hill), participating in a meeting with the rest of Queens communities, chose by a vote of 788 to 221 to remain loyal to King George and refrain from attending the New York Congress. With much threatening pressure from Congress, Jamaica finally signed the petition, vowing support of the Revolutionary War. The area of Jamaica was the site of some fierce fighting and at one point, fully one third of the Queens population was evacuated to Nova Scotia for safety. 

In 1783, the British signed a treaty and the people of Queens were now part of the state of New York, which in turn was one of the United States of America. 

In 1790, the population of Queens was recorded at 16,014 people. By 1870, the total was 73,789. During these years, improvements in transportation provided easier access to the area from the other boroughs and the mainland, and these developments had a direct bearing on the founding of Richmond Hill. 
 

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