Facing a gigantic housing shortage in the years after WWII due to the return of thousands of troops seeking to settle down and start families, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) turned to Quonset huts as a temporary emergency measure. These structures were placed in several Queens neighborhoods which had open space, including Middle Village, Jackson Heights, Idlewild (replaced by JFK airport in 1963) and the current Lefrak City area in Corona.
The aerial views of the Middle Village huts were taken in 1951. The 2 temporary housing locations were described in a 1946 LI Press article as follows: “Caldwell Ave on the north, from 77th St on the east to the Long Island Railroad tracks on the west and south of Eliot Ave” and “Eliot Ave and Mount Olivet Cemetery on the north, 69th Pl on the east, 67th St on the west and Lutheran Cemetery on the south.”
These locations were prepped to be ready to take in families by September 1, 1946. There was concern at the time that the huts would fall into disrepair and become eyesores, but that was not allowed to happen as the City demolished the structures in 1952 after 6 years of use. The original plan for the tracts of land where the huts were built was the placement of a Sanitation Department garage and incinerator. Thankfully, the local civics beat that back by getting a zoning change pushed through. By the 1960s, hundreds of permanent houses had been built and the Quonset huts, much like the war necessitating them, became a distant memory.