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Local tourism executive pens book about famous people in Queens

Famous People of Queens by Rob MacKay (Arcadia Publishing

Front cover of Famous People of Queens by Rob MacKay (Arcadia Publishing

Feb. 15, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

A local tourism executive has released a book showcasing some of Queens’ most famous individuals.

From Simon & Garfunkel, to LL Cool J and Ron Artest, the new book consists of more than 200 images featuring pre-eminent people who have lived in the World’s Borough.

The book, called Famous People From Queens, was released last week by Rob MacKay, director of public relations, tourism and marketing for the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

Each image in the book is accompanied by captions detailing how the highlighted individuals made an impact in their particular field.

The 128-page paperback covers trailblazers in acting, business, music, politics, science, sports, and religion. There is also a special chapter dedicated to fallen war heroes and justice advocates.

MacKay said he is excited that the book has been released, noting that Queens is a melting pot for people of all backgrounds.

“I truly believe that the best thing about Queens is its people,” MacKay said.

“We’re diverse, talented, friendly, awe-inspiring, and even a little bit crazy … in a good way. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share these stories with readers and I hope they enjoy them as much as I do. ¡Que viva Queens!” 

The book also features images of noteworthy individuals such as John Bowne, who came from England in the 1660s and fought for religious freedom and to end slavery as well as Conrad Poppenhusen, a German immigrant who built a successful business here in the 1880s and used his wealth to establish College Point.

Meanwhile, Robert Beamon, an Olympic gold medalist who broke the long jump world record in 1968 is also included, along with tennis grand slam winner John McEnroe and Gertrude Ederle, who was the first woman to swim the English Channel.

Other musicians featured in the book include Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper and pioneering rap trio Run-D.M.C.

Rob MacKay, the author of Famous People From Queens, at Flushing Meadows Corona Park (Photo: Asha MacKay)

The new publication follows on from MacKay’s 2021 book called Historic Houses of Queens, which showcases more than 50 farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes and architecturally significant dwellings around the borough, as well as several historic districts in Queens.

MacKay, a Sunnyside resident, also published a guidebook for the borough called Queens In Your Pocket, which has been updated several times since its 2012 launch.

He also runs It’s In Queens social media channels that promote the borough’s hotels, restaurants, shops, and tourism attractions. MacKay is a former newspaper and magazine editor. He became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society in 2018. 

Famous People From Queens is published by Arcadia Publishing and costs $23.99.

It can be purchased on Arcadia Publishing’s website by clicking here.  

Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell rocks a Kangol hat at the far left in this 1984 photo that British artist Janette Beckman took near his childhood home on 205th Street in Hollis. Joseph "DJ Run" Simmons is to the immediate right, while Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels is at the far right among those standing. They formed Run-D.M.C., a pioneering rap trio whose three-decade career included induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

Run-D.M.C., a pioneering rap trio who were awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Pictured above in 1994, Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell in a Kangol hat (far left), Joseph “DJ Run” Simmons (immediate right), and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels (far right standing). (Picture provided by Rob MacKay)

Gertrude Ederle (right) poses in a two-piece bathing suit that her sister had designed for her in this photo. The Flushing resident was 19 when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel on Aug. 6, 1926. Her memory lives on via Ederle Terrace, a public space in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Gertrude Ederle (right) poses in a two-piece bathing suit that her sister had designed for her in this photo. The Flushing resident was 19 when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel on Aug. 6, 1926. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

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