On display in a Queens Plaza greenspace, the millstones are contemporary link to colonial-era Queens, where the two stones most likely worked in tandem grinding corn and wheat into flour in a nearby gristmill powered by East River tides.
“By 1770 some five tide mills could be found along the coast of western Queens, servicing the hamlets of Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, and Astoria, which later joined to form Long Island City,” states the New York City Parks Department.
The two millstones are thought to be from a gristmill founded by German immigrant Burger Jorissen in the 1640s. His mill was located on present-day 41st Avenue and Northern Boulevard, according to the Parks Department.
The mill operated for two centuries. It ended up in the hands of the Payntar family and was ultimately demolished in 1861.
The Payntars put one of the millstones in the sidewalk in front of the family house—and a descendant in the early 1900s had it embedded in concrete in then-new Queens Plaza, states one source.
The second millstone was reportedly discovered in the 1980s. Both reunited stones ended up in a traffic island.
[Top photo: Jim Henderson/Wikipedia]