Discovering the history of Queens Boulevard
by Michael Perlman
Nov 11, 2020 | 2515 views | 0 0 comments | 139 139 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Queens Boulevard in the early 20th century.
Queens Boulevard in the early 20th century.
Queens Boulevard as a single dirt road with some frame houses.
Queens Boulevard as a single dirt road with some frame houses.
Queens is the largest borough by land mass, the second most populated, and one of the most ethnically diverse destinations in the world.

Queens County was established by the British and is believed to have been named on November 1, 1683, after Queen Catherine of Braganza, the queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1662 to 1685 and the wife of King Charles II.

The Borough of Queens became a part of Greater New York on January 1, 1898.

Queens Boulevard, which runs from the western edge of Queens to Jamaica, was originally named Buttermilk Hollow, followed by Whitepot Pike and Queens Pike.

In 1873, in conjunction with then-mayor John Hoffman, the route was renamed Hoffman Boulevard from Newtown to Jamaica.

What would eventually become a boulevard spanning 7.2 miles and consisting of 16 lanes at its widest point at Yellowstone Boulevard was originally a two-lane dirt road, its growth shaped by the opening of the Queensboro Bridge in 1909.

In 1912, New Rochelle resident Clifford Bennett Moore was tasked with upgrading the route. It would require the demolition of 177 buildings and a half-million cubic yards of excavation. The project cost $3 million.

“When the Board of Estimate at the meeting last week passed the resolution fixing the area of assessment for the laying out of Queens Boulevard along the lines of Thomson Avenue and Hoffman Boulevard, they started the most important street opening proceeding that has ever been instituted in the City of New York,” read the Daily Star in October of 1911. “In the value of the land and the amount to be taken, this proceeding will exceed that of Riverside concourse in Manhattan.”

Moore predicted Queens Boulevard would join the great avenues of the world, such as the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue, or Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, even Paris’ Champs-Élysées.

In 1913, a trolley line was built from 59th Street in Manhattan to Queens Boulevard. The following year, construction began to widen the boulevard to its 200-foot width, which was completed in 1935.

Stations along the IND subway line at Woodhaven Boulevard, 63rd Drive, 67th Avenue, Continental Avenue, and Union Turnpike opened in 1936.

“Queens Boulevard, when present reconstruction is completed, will be the most beautiful highway in the world,” read a 1927 prospect for Remo Hall, Rego Park’s first apartment building. “Two-hundred feet wide, parked pedestrian lanes, paved auto roads, and trolleys on either side. The new subway under the boulevard has already been approved, and it will be but a question of time before trains will be in operation.”
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