Coming Attractions: Monopoly Queens Edition

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Mr. Monopoly at the Unisphere, Courtesy of Tim Barney

For nine decades, Monopoly has been regarded as a bestseller worldwide, and is now about to create an even greater buzz around town. All generations will be able to play “MONOPOLY: Queens, NY Edition” come October. From now through March 15, fans can play a role in shaping the legendary board game by nominating places, businesses, organizations, and landmarks among distinctive sites in Queens. To place five votes, visit

Top Trumps USA is a division of Winning Moves International, which embraces playing games and having fun, and is home to Monopoly. New York, NY resident and Monopoly manager Tim Barney explained how the Queens theme originated. “Each year, we examine many cities across the United States. We seek places with history, culture, great sites, and great people. We love areas with a real sense of community. Queens has all of that and more. It’s the ‘world’s borough’ afterall! With so much local pride, we hope to make people proud, as we attempt to capture the very spirit of the city within the game, and display its wonderful diversity.”

Barney is not a Queens or New York City native, but walks in the footsteps of Queens residents with much enthusiasm. He explained, “I’ve had the distinct pleasure of exploring all of these amazing neighborhoods and businesses, and met with so many cool people and organizations that play a role in making this place great. Once again, it’s that diversity and local pride that stands out the most.”

One may wonder about the demographics associated with nominations. “It seems that most have come from locals and former locals. At this point, I believe we have received more submissions in Queens than for any other community edition we’ve done in the U.S.,” said Barney.

Barney is proud to broaden the history of a most famous game. He explained, “Monopoly has been cherished in family homes across the world for generations. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to combine the best things about it with all of the delightful things that make a community special. In turn, it makes the new edition all of the more sentimental.”

Barney has favorite Queens “landmarks,” but will not divulge many early on. “One of my favorite attractions is the absolutely incredible Unisphere,” he said, which according to the late urban planner Robert Moses, “illustrates, symbolizes, and embodies man’s achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe.”

Mr. Monopoly at the iconic Eddie’s Sweet Shop, Courtesy of Jim Barney

Elizabeth Maggie Phillips circa 1906

Some of Barney’s fondest memories originate from playing board and card games around the table with his family and friends as a child. “I still typically host or attend a game night somewhere in the city, at least once per week. It is one of the last places today where people truly connect, put their phones down, and really spend some quality time with one another.” He continued, “When I was approached for this role, it was a dream come true to learn I could be directly involved with making those same fond memories for many more people across the country and for generations.”

Barney advised not waiting until the end to cast votes, since selections are made along the way

“We have some other regions of Monopoly in the works, which haven’t been announced yet, so keep an eye out,” he added.  

Charles Darrow’s Monopoly patent, 1935

In the Facebook group, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – “Our Communities,” this columnist created a poll on February 23, and requested nominating sites after voting online. As of February 26, the poll garnered 2,121, with 77 properties selected. Among the top picks are Eddie’s Sweet Shop, Forest Hills Stadium, The Unisphere, the Midway Theatre, Knish Nosh, Forest Hills High School, Station Square, Cinemart Cinemas, Forest Hills Inn, Lemon Ice King, The Ramones, Trylon Theater, Tower Diner, Shalimar Diner, Jay Dee Bakery, Jahn’s, Forest Hills Jewish Center, Neir’s Tavern, New York Hall of Science, and NYS Pavilion.

Past and current residents expressed much excitement. “I grew up playing Monopoly, and I am still an avid board gamer,” said Regina Fox, who lives near Forest Hills Stadium. “I even made a Monopoly Queens Edition as a project at Bayside High School. There’s already a Monopoly Brooklyn Edition, so I’m really glad there will be a Monopoly Queens Edition. I’m excited to see which landmarks will be chosen to represent us.”

“This will be big, since Queens has so much packed into the borough,” said Gayla Gold, a former Forest Hills resident who relocated to Nashville, TN. “We grew up in a great time, when I played lots of Monopoly. Games would go on for days in the summertime.” Looking ahead, she continued, “Maybe ex-New Yorkers will purchase this new version for their grandkids.”

Monopoly ad, c. 1935

Rego Park resident Steve Abraham would play Monopoly often with family and friends. “It brings back good childhood memories. Having Queens represented would be great, and it should include Flushing Meadows Park, the home of two World’s Fairs and Citifield or the original Shea Stadium, as well as the Forest Hills Inn, Trylon Theatre, Midway Theatre, the original Jamaica Avenue in the 1950s, a great place for family shopping, as well as Queens Center mall.”  

Forest Hills Gardens resident Eve Galvez feels proud and honored. She nominated Station Square and the West Side Tennis Club. “I celebrated beautiful moments with my loved ones at the WSTC. The chef prepares exquisite food that is beautifully presented with a gorgeous view of the Stadium. This establishment has been internationally recognized in the iconic Forest Hills Gardens. Station Square is also rich in history, which brings back memories since my childhood.” For Galvez, it represents taking a scroll, sitting on benches, and enjoying life.

Having lived throughout Queens, Camille Liguori calls the Queens edition a lovely idea. She moved to Queens 63 years ago and thought of it as a little town in other states. “Rockaway Beach was like heaven. I came from Brooklyn, so the little streets with manicured lawns and parks were new to me. I lived in Maspeth, Middle Village, and now near Forest Park.”

Monopoly harbors a unique history. The late Philadelphia heating engineer Charles Brace Darrow (1889 – 1967) is credited as Monopoly’s inventor in 1934, but the concept originated in a slightly varied format. Enter the world of Virginia resident and free-spirited suffragist Elizabeth Magie Phillips (1866 – 1948), who was the head of the Henry George School of Social Science in Washington. She originated a game by the name of “The Landlord” in 1904, followed by another patent as “The Landlord’s Game” in 1924. Parker Brothers of Salem, MA owned patents of her latter game and Darrow’s, but he insisted that he was unfamiliar with her game until selling his.  

As for Phillips, her father was a disciple of Henry George, and she intended to teach her students George’s single tax doctrine by developing a game, but did not plan it to become a parlor game. She also originated other games within the following two decades, revolving around this theme, after discovering her genius talent. She told The Washington Post in 1940, that when the war unfolded in Europe, her immediate reaction was to invent a game and indicate that its cause was tariff barriers. “I don’t force economics on people who buy the games, but if they want to know more, they write to me, and I send them literature about the Georgist movement,” she said.

On February 14, 1936, Darrow told the New York Post, “I offered the game to Parker Brothers (the oldest game manufacturers), but they turned it down. They said it took too long to play, had too many parts, was unorthodox and could never be successful. But people began asking stores for it, and Wanamaker’s put it in stock. By December 1, 1934, I had sold 15,000 sets myself, and Parker Brothers were convinced of their mistake. I signed a contract that day on a royalty basis.” Darrow received hundreds of letters from fans. The department store would say, “We have it,” and therefore a word-of-mouth approach made a major difference.  

The Landlord’s Game, patented 1904

In 1929, Darrow was a coal combustion instructor, but then during the Great Depression, he aimed to make a living by selling on commission. He navigated from house to house, but could not generate sales. In his Princeton class in 1930, he conversed about a series of hypothetical investments and visualized a game encompassing losing and winning property and money. He said, “I started with a circular piece of oilcloth about 40 inches in diameter. I pinned it on the dining room table. I lined off blocks, colored them and named them after streets in Atlantic City because the resort possessed the idea of play I wanted to get across. With a few bits of wood, dice and playing men and ‘Community Chest’ and ‘Chance’ cards written by my wife, Ester, the game came into being.” He envisioned naming it “Real Estate,” but his wife replied “Monopoly.”

Darrow conversed with The Kingston Daily Freeman, and reflected upon their lives. On June 24, 1958, he discussed being a millionaire after selling greater than twenty million copies. “When fate made it possible, I decided to spend the rest of my life enjoying the companionship of my wife and family, and I have never regretted that decision.” He and wife were able to live on a 300-acre farm, had two sons and two grandsons, and traveled internationally annually. “We have a wonderful time wherever we go. Mrs. Darrow looks for rare orchid specimens to bring home and I take color movies.”

Monopoly has been subject to trivia over the decades. In 1988, The Monopoly Companion and Parker Brothers presented a round. It stated, “Parker Brothers prints more than twice as much Monopoly money as the U.S. prints real money” and “The longest Monopoly game played on the back of a firetruck lasted 101 hours, in a bathtub, 99 hours, upside down, 36 hours.” It also read, “During WWII, escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into Monopoly games smuggled into POW camps in Germany. Real money for the escapes was slipped into the packs of Monopoly money.”

In 1988, over 100 million Monopoly games, spanning 22 languages, were sold in 80 countries. Today it is estimated that over 275 million sets, spanning 43 languages, were sold in at least 111 countries.

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