FOREST HILLS after dark

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Your webmaster is a diurnal animal. This wasn’t always the case — throughout the 1980s I worked the late shift and braved the darkest recesses of the graffiti scarred IRT on the way home every morning at 3 or 4 AM. Since that time I have evolved into a reverse vampire and am only rarely caught out of doors when the moon is out. Neither my camera nor my abilities with it are fully up to the task of nighttime photography. Still, there are rare occasions when circumstances dictate my actions; one day in December 2006, I was limping through Forest Hills and as Yogi Berra puts it, it “got late early.” Before scurrying for the subway I managed to squeeze off some shots of a twilit Queens.

Union Turnpike descends into an underpass that takes it under the LIRR Montauk Branch. The area is punctuated by a huge apartment complex built alongside the right of way of the old LIRR Ozone Park Branch (see below).

A path leads into the northern edge of vast Forest Park.

Forest Park has a series of blazed trails, but I’ve yet to see a map of them. Does the Parks department distribute one?

Tracks in the right of way of the Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Branch, which connected the main line with the Rockaway Peninsula until 1950. The southernmost part of the line was absorbed into the NYC subway in 1956 in a feat of imagination now all-nigh impossible in today’s MTA. The section between the main branch has been allowed to decay since service ended in 1962. This sould make a terrific subway connection between north and south Queens, or perhaps a rails to trails project such as the High Line.

In 2011, there was a push to make at least a portion of this abandoned RR into a park.

A stone arch takes a service road over a park path in Forest Park. This is one of the truly vast parks in eastern Queens.

Ascan Avenue and Kessel Street, notable for a remaining Curved-Mast octagonal pole lamppost. Just a few dozen of these, the first vanguard of the “octa-poles” in 1950-1952, still remain standing. A gatepost and arch covering the sidewalk marks an entrance to the private enclave Forest Hills Gardens, built heavily in Tudor to resemble a traditional English village and designed in 1908 by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr., son of the co-architect of Central and Prospect Parks.

Though they now carry high intensity sodium lighting, Forest Hills Gardens lamppost design has remained unchanged since nearly the founding of the development. Some of these posts may be originals, but even the newer ones seem to have been cast from the same molds as the older ones. They are truly unique in NYC, with one exception: one original lamppost remaining in the Tudor City development on the eastern end of E. 42nd Street strongly resembles its Forest Hills Gardens counterpart.

A neon remnant of the United Artists Continental Theatre on Austin Street. The site is now partially occupied by the Brandon Twin (fomerly Continental 1 & 2)as well as some businesses including The Gap.

The Ridgewood Savings Bank, Queens Boulevard and 108th Street, attained NYC landmark status in 2000. It was constructed by Halsey. McCormick and Helmer in 1939 in a subdued Art Deco style.

T-Bone Diner, 107-48 Queens Blvd., was built in tandem with the Independent Subway in the 1930s. According to Michael Engle and Mario Monti’s Diners of New York, it was constructed in 1934 by the Kullman diner construction company and replaced an earlier train caboose that dispensed eats at the beginning of the Depression.

Concourse, 71st-Continental Avenue IND subway. Signage was more direct and to the point in the 1930s; if public toilets were still open in the subways the signage would likely show stylized male/female silhouettes.

[By 2011, the V train had gone the way of the dodo bird and was replaced by the M on Queens Blvd. The G was cut back to a terminal at Court Square in Hunters Point.]

Photographed December 2006; page completed August 27, 2009

 





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2 Responses to FOREST HILLS after dark

  1. John says:

    The “stone arch takes a service road” picture was the image in my head when I made my guess on a previous (yesterday’s?) “Where am I?”. As the migration to the new platform continues, I’m discovering a wealth of content I didn’t know existed before. I’m enjoying Forgotten New York all over again! Thank you!

  2. Bill says:

    Hi,

    Big fan of your site; please keep up the amazing work.

    Just browsing when I decided to see what you’ve explored in my neighborhood. To address part of your post, those restrooms at the 71st Ave stop were still open until a few years ago, perhaps just shy of a decade closed. I remember the late 90s into the early 00s, I’d come home from college, often in the middle of the night, and look on in amazement as I’d see men still entering the long corridor past the doorway. I never ventured in myself… if only I had the courage I now possess.

    BTW, they in fact did have two separate restrooms marked for men and women.

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