Van Alst Playground

Peter G. Van Alst (1828 – 1900) was a surveyor who helped to build the roads and infrastructure of western Queens.

Van Alst was born in Dutch Kills on May 28, 1828, and was a member of the large extended Van Alst family, a prominent Dutch farming family who moved to the area in the early 1700s and resided there until the 1870s, when they spread out and moved elsewhere. Van Alst received his education at the District School and the Astoria Institute. He apprenticed as a surveyor for a few years, and worked independently until 1872, when the city legislature appointed him to serve as a commissioner, surveying and supervising the construction of several roads in Long Island City, Queens.

In 1874, Van Alst and three fellow Long Island City citizens comprised the First Ward Improvement Commission, which was in charge of raising the grades of Jackson Avenue from Vernon Avenue to the courthouse from three to eight feet, which profoundly affected the daily life of the city. Van Alst’s job consisted primarily of constructing maps, which revealed detailed organizations of street lines, grades, and sewage lines of the Long Island City area.


“Van Alst Playground,” New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, accessed April 24, 2023,

“Peter G Van Alst Memorial,”,