Quite a bit of Queens real estate bears the name Hollis — the neighborhoods Hollis, Holliswood, Hollis Park Gardens and Hollis Hills, the LIRR Hollis station, Hollis Avenue, Hollis Hills Terrace and Hollis Court Boulevard. The name honors a small town in southern New Hampshire with a current population of just over a thousand.




In 1883 developer Frederick W. Dunton bought up a lot of real estate north and south of what is now the Hollis LIRR station in eastern Queens at what is now the intersection of Hollis Avenue (then Old Country Road) and Farmers Avenue (now Boulevard) and, after some reflection, decided to name his new developments for his hometown, Hollis, New Hampshire. Today’s neighborhood of Hollis (immortalized by RUN-DMC in “Christmas in Hollis” was originally surrounded by Hollis Park Gardens, Hollis Terrace, Holliswood, Hollis Manor, and other celebrations of the southern New Hampshire villa. Over time, some of the Hollises have been renamed but you can still find the original Hollis, south of Jamaica Avenue, as well as hilly Holliswood and today’s subject, Hollis Hills,on the map roughly between Cross Island Parkway on the west, Clearview expressway on the west, Grand Central Parkway south, and the Long Island Expressway north. I walked mainly along Union Turnpike, Hollis Hills’ main east-west surface route.

I began my walk at the somewhat forbidding Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, (left) located on campuses north and south of Union Turnpike. In the 19th Century the property was owned by the Creed family and the regin became known as “Creed’s Moor.” The National Rifle Association (NRA) and National Guard used the property as a rifle rangeafter NY State purchased the grounds from the Creeds, and this era is still reflected in local street names in Bellerose, the neighborhood just south of Creedmoor, like Winchester, Range, and Musket. In 1912 the Farm Colony of New York, a division of Brooklyn State Hospital, opened here with 32 patients, and over the next few decades the campus expanded with additional buildings. 

At its peak, [Creedmoor] housed some 7,000 patients. They tended gardens and raised livestock on the hospitalís grounds. The hospital contained gymnasiums, a swimming pool, a theater, a television studio, and giant kitchens and laundries where patients were put to work.

Today, Creedmoor, still run by the New York State Office of Mental Health, has only a few hundred patients. In a process of deinstitutionalization that began in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1980s, psychiatric wards were nearly emptied, their charges turned over to outpatient treatment centers that would help re-integrate the mentally ill into their communities. NY Times

Most of Creedmoor’s grounds south of Union Turnpike today are ghostly and shuttered. However, the thriving Queens County Farm Museum today occupies acreage once tended by the patients, and one of Queens’ best-kept secrets, the Living Museumfeaturing art created by patients with mental illness, is on the Creedmoor campus. The Living Museum was profiled in a 1998 film by documentarian Jessica Yu.

Handsome ashlar park house at the eastern end of Alley Pond Park, Winchester Boulevard north of Union Turnpike. Alley Pond Park is a giant (approx. 656 acres) mostly marshland area in eastern Queens, runing from Little Neck Bay on the north to Union Turnpike south, acquired by the NYC Parks Department in 1929, which has kept it mostly pristine, but with 26 acres of playing fields and the lengthy Alley Pond Nature Trail, opened in 1935. The “Alley” was named in colonial times for the valley passing through two hilly areas in eastern Queens.

The historic Long Island Motor Parkway is now a bike trail running through Alley Pond Park. It is part of a longer bike trail originating at Kissena Corridor Park and running east to Winchester Boulevard. Originally, though, it was one of the first roadways built specifically for auto traffic when first constructed by industrialist heir William Kissam Vanderbilt II between 1908-1910. It was expanded westward to 73rd Avenue and 198th Street by 1926. At left, a brick arch takes it over an Alley Pond Park path.

A boa constrictor was found on the Motor Parkway in November 2010. Boas are not native to Queens, and it was likely a pet snake that got away.

Here’s a pair of living fossils, like the coelacanth or tuatara, on Union Turnpike and 234th Street. At one time (roughly 1964-1985) NYC street signs were color coded by borough, with Queens signs blue type on an off-white background. In 1998, when FNY was instituted, there were quite a few of these still around, but the Department of Transportation, which despises nonstandard signage, took them all down. I fully expect the DOT to do the same here tout suite, since FNY does have readers in the DOT. Spare these signs!

You know what, when I first encountered the word coelacanth I deduced, correctly, it was pronouned SEE-la-canth. I am intelligent in certain very narrow fields that have no practical application.

The Grand Central Parkway crosses Union Turnpike on a stylish metal and concrete arch. I used to think, when I was a kid and first saw it on maps, that this parkway had something to do with Granc Central Terminal in Manhattan. The two names are completely coincidental, as when the initial section was opened between Kew Gardens and Glen Oaks, it was in eastern central Queens.

The parkway was opened in tandem with the westernmost section of the Northern State Parkway (which GCP becomes east of the Queens/Nassau line.

Ebenezer Mission Church, Union Turnpike between Hartland Avenue and 221st Street. This was likely a different church when constructed; anyone from the neighborhood know which one?

ForgottenFan Erika Williams: The building was originally used as the building for the day school at Chapel of the Redeemer Lutheran. I believe the school closed in 2002 or 2003.

Eastern Union Turnpike also features some post-modern church designs, such as the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Union Turnpike and Hartland Avenue. Once again, the internet is silent on the building itself; I get frustrated because little about the architecture of some churches is readily available online, as many churches don’t think the building itself is the point, after all.

New street clocks are a welcome addition in eastern Queens, and this sign bids visitors welcome at Union Turnpike, Hartland Avenue and 220th Street.

Most residents of Hollis Hills are unaware of it, but over a century ago, a long lost railroad once ran through the area: the Central Railroad of Long Island was built by Scottish-American entrepreneur Alexander T. Stewart between Flushing and a new real-estate development of his called Garden City. The most obvious remnant of it is Kissena Corridor Park, which runs diagonally to the overall street grid, and the presence of Stewart Road and Peck Avenue, which flank the old right of way. A parking lot next to Stewart Road follows the old railroad path, which can be discerned in an adjacent parking lot. The railroad ran only 2 years, 1872-1874.

The Saucer Has Landed

The saucer has landed at Union Turnpike and Bell Boulevard, where you find the American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church, built in 1967. The martyrs were eight Jesuit missionaries to the Huron Indians in the 17th Century. All eight were killed during a Huron conflict with the Iroquois in what is now Quebec and upstate NY between 1642-1649.







The Windsor Park branch of Queens Public Library, on Bell Boulevard across from the church, is named after the Windsor Park Houses, a garden apartment complex a few blocks north.

I had lunch at Union Diner, at the Turnpike and 212th Street. When I was here in the summer of 2009, I’m not sure if I was here before or after the owner won a million dollars in the New York State lottery.

photographed June, 2009; page completed November 25, 2010.

Categorized in: Forgotten Slices Neighborhoods Tagged with:

38 Responses to HOLLIS HILLS, Queens

  1. danny says:

    did you guys and gals at fny know that there are 2 abandoned tunnels in hollis hills? i have visited both of them and i am still at a loss as to why they were built in the first place…

  2. mikem says:

    Wow! Where are the abandoned tunnels?

    • laura says:

      The abandoned tunnels are located in ally pound park

      • joe gibbons says:

        the tunnels go under union tpk and springfield blvd in the shadow of the GCP. it appears to me that it was to control water runoff, because the tunnel has a raised concrete platform for its entire length 4′ or so above a dirt floor. it doesn’t seem wide enough for a road or railroad, but it may have been built to control erosion, which could have undermined the CCRLI railroad tracks. the train ran right nearby in the 1870’s

        • Mid-Queens Boys Clubber says:

          The “tunnels” are probably remnants of old entrances/exits to the Grand Central Parkway. In the 1970s or so there was a major construction project which realigned and/or rebuilt parts of the GCP. The project included new entrance/exit ramps. A half-buried “tunnel” is visible near the northwest intersection of the west side of Springfield Blvd and the north fringe of the GCP, between Hartland Ave and 223 St.

          The project also took a couple of baseball fields from Alley Pond Park for the GCP stretch between Winchester Blvd and Union Tpke.

          • Tom M. says:

            The tunnels actually were the bridale path for horses to go along the parkway when built in 1940. The elevated sidewalk under the tunnel was for walkers.Most of the parkways had paths,but here we had this built as a bridel path to get to Alley Pond from area stables which still existed in the day.When only 4 lanes there was a big buffer from traffic on the north side of the parkway.
            I remember walking the length of the trail in the 1970’s,when it was still in use before the Grand Cenral Parkway was enlarged and the old enranceson Springfiels Blvd eliminated.
            The bridle path went past Bell,but somewher in time was cut off,probably when Bell was extended to the GCP

  3. Tom Scherger says:

    I can tell you quite a bit about the Chapel of the Redeemer — Lutheran, as my family were members there from about 1952 to the early ’80s, and I graduated from the school. The “new” church building was dedicated in 1962; prior to that, worship was held on the upper floor of the (now) Ebenezer Mission Church, which also doubled as the school gym (I can remember taking the chairs up and down). In its heyday the school was quite crowded, two grades to a classroom, and when the new building was completed some of the grades moved into classrooms on the main floor and basement. I now live in Michigan and haven’t been back in years — thanks for the memories!

    • Cornelia maes says:

      Tom, my family went to Redeemer from the mid 1950’s to the early 1970’s. I remember Pastor Lindemann, his wife and their three sons and Mr. Pittlekow, the school principle. My brothers and sisters attended NYC public schools. I live in Denver now. The neighborhood still looks very good. Cornelia Maes née Trostorff.

      • Nina W. says:

        Hello from another former member of the Redeemer congregation! My family and I attended from the late 60s through the early 80s. I recall with great fondness how terrific Paster Lindemann was with children, and how fascinated we all were with his ear (although we were strictly forbidden to stare at it or discuss it in any way for fear of making him feel self-conscious).

        Anyone else from that era will also have memories of the stand-alone Carvel ice cream store, which was also located on Union Tpke (just east of Springfield Blvd., and which I believe is now a dollar store of some kind). We’re up in Westchester now, but still visit the old neighborhood every now and then.

        • Richard Vehlow says:

          I now live in Albany, NY but grew up in Bayside and my family were members of Chapel from roughly 1950 to 1979. I attended school from 1973-75 and again 1976-79.

          Pastor Lindeman married my parents on June 24, 1967.

          Loved Carvel- still love Carvel chocolate shakes, or other comparable soft serve wherever I can find them.

          I still have a photo album of chapel and will post photos in the future here and on my facebook page in the near future.

        • max says:

          i got my first carvel there…10 cents for a cone..those were the days

    • Christopher Johnston says:

      I grew up at Chapel of the Redeemer. I was baptized and confirmed there, and I attended the day school from Nursery through Grade 8. It was a sad day when the school closed, as that day marked the end of an era of sharing God’s love in the Queens neighborhoods. Sadly, many of the Lutheran schools in NY have since closed. But I do have many fond memories of chapel, especially the teachers and principals. Two amazing teachers and principals (with whom I still communicate) are Beth Crowe and John Matern. Also, there was Mrs. Thierfelder (now deceased), Mrs. Frillman, Mrs. McReynolds, and so many others. In fact, my mother, Jan Johnston, taught at Chapel for many years (as well as Immanuel Whitestone and Queens Lutheran School.)

      Tom, you may not know this, but your dad frequently watched me as a baby while my Mom was working. When I stumbled across this website, I shared it with my mom, and she recognized your last name immediately!

      Lately I’ve been thinking it would be wonderful to have a Chapel of the Redeemer reunion of former students and teachers. Perhaps we can get the word out!


      Chris Johnston

      • Susan Alexander says:

        Chris, I remember you and your wonderful mom. Wish I had a school like Chapel to send my kids.

      • Richard Vehlow says:

        As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I too attended Chapel for school, though not continuously.
        1973-74- Nursery, Mrs. Eickmann
        1974-75- Kindergarten, Mrs. Thierfelder
        1976 (Nov) -1977- 2nd grade, Mr. Thierfelder (Mrs. Thierfelder’s son, now a retired English professor from what I understand.)(I briefly went to PS46 near my apartment for 1st grade and part of 2nd. Public School overcrowding brought me back to chapel.)
        1977-78- 3rd grade, Ms. Crowe
        1978-79- 4th grade- Karen Reiter
        My parents transferred me to Redeemer on 36th and Bell for 5th grade, probably because of the fact that two grades were being combined into a class in Chapel. We also changed memberships. I only went to one other service in Chapel after that, circa 1986. (possibly another in 1991?)

    • Bill Wilson says:

      Fond memories of Redeemer Lutheran, Pastor Lindemann, John Matern, the elderly Mr. Pittlekow (sp?) and the church services held upstairs on folding chairs. I did not attend school there, rather PS109 and then Martin Van Buren in it’s infancy. 1955 I believe. I was confirmed at RL and attended many of the supervised teen activities sponsored by the church. God Bless.

    • Enid Wedemeyer Corkran says:

      I attended Chapel of the Redeemer from 1953 to 1961. At that time Mr. Pittlekow was the principal and the teacher of grades 7 and 8, and John Mattern was a young teacher of grades 5 and 6. Mrs. Pittlekow taught 1st and 2nd grades. This website informed me that the school had been sold. Anyone from those years reading this?

  4. Victor G. :-) says:

    The Union Diner has been closed for about two months, but lately I’ve seen workmen doing something there. There’s no sign or indication as to what they’re doing or what might be coming in there.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Diners don’t seem to be surviving lately.

    • Victor G. :-) says:

      I drove by the diner this morning, there’s a sign in the window saying that there’s a Greek Family restaurant coming soon. I couldn’t read any other info…

    • Enid Wedemeyer Corkran says:

      Back in the 50’s and 60’s, a corner luncheonette was on that site. It was owed by Milton and Mary Blatt, and was known as “Uncle Milty’s”

  5. Amriel says:

    My mother grew up in Floral Park in the 50s and 60s. She said that when insulted by another child, the kids used to sing, “Same to you, even more, hope you die at Creedmoor.” Lovely stuff.

  6. helena says:

    do you know if the houses in hollis hills were built on swap land or with running water underneath? and i heard along time ago some kid drowned in the pond do you know if thats true.

    • Vicki says:

      Pea Pond is where the teenage boy drowned. We used to ice skate on the frozen pond. I think when the Grand Central was widened it dried up.

      • Bob says:

        The boy that drowned at Pea Pond was a friend of my father’s. This happened in the winter time in the early 1950’s. A bunch of the kids were traveling thru the neighborhoods, shoveling snow from driveways for a little extra money. The one kid (cannot remember his name) was deathly afraid of water and could not swim. When they were done for the day, this one kid decided to take a short cut home over the ice of the pond. The ice gave way and the kid drowned. About 30 years later, when they drained Pea Pond, one of my dad’s friends who was with him that day, found the shovel that the drowned boy had been using on that fateful day.

        • Don Baumgarten says:

          I also don’t remember the boys name but he was a 7 grader at PS33 and would have graduated in 1953. He lived just south of Braddock ave and was very popular with all the girls in school

          • Don Baumgarten says:

            Make that 1954 not 53

          • Jeanne Selfridge says:

            I remember a teenage young man drowning at Pea Pond (Springfield Blvd), in the late 1950’s. I think he was a Martin Van Buren Student. He was handsome and very popular. He had a beautiful girlfriend. I remember how shocking it was, to realize, someone, young with a bright future, could die. It was very sad, and an introduction to many of us, that life can be so unfair.

          • Jeanne Selfridge says:

            I might be confusing Pea Pond with Alley Pond. Anyway, Queens Village and its surrounding areas will always hold a special place in my heart.

  7. jo march says:

    Hi I grew up in Hollis Hills in the 60″s. There is a still functioning Hollis Hills Jewish Center on Union Turnpike beteween 210th-211th maybe.
    There was also a functioning center with a grocery and great old fashioned “candy store” luncheonette called Miltie’s (I think).
    Great site , I love what we called the bike path when I as a kid.
    Thanks for the work.

    • Jim Maguire says:

      The ‘candy store’ you refer to was owned by Milton & Mary Blatt. It was about 6 blocks from my house. I was there all the time as a kid. It was on the corner. David’s Hardware was next door.

  8. Jasmine Success says:

    I am trying to find out if there was a private school on Woodhull Ave, in Hollis, NY names the Woodhull School which closed in 1998?

  9. Susan Alexander says:

    Chris Johnston, I remember your mom before she left the school. She was a 7th grade teacher but Mrs. Sanford took the 7/8 grade class post after she and Mr. Stanco left. I honestly have very fond memories of my 5th -7th grade (1982-85). That church was beautiful and I enjoyed our Wed chapel services. I wish i still lived close enough to NYC to partcipate in a reunion. I now reside in FL.
    You were an adorable young man with blonde hair back then!
    The school was something else, and it is a shame that they do not run schools like that anymore. Back then, we feared the principalm but nowadays the principals are all friendly and not at all intimidating. We need a little bit of Mr. Matern in the schools.

  10. wayne c says:

    remember the old “deli” on union tpke & the soda fountain nearby. liked hollis hills a lot.

  11. Don Baumgarten says:

    These bring back fond memories , I remember them building the large Cheedmore Hospital, sneaking into their movie theater balcony and watching the latest hit movies. Since I lived on 237st I was very familiar with Alley Pond Park ,ice skating sleigh riding all kinds of sports, the motor parkway, when from end to end many times. Even hunted, fished and trapped there but don’t tell anyone. My home away from home when I was a kid. If any old friends read this please e mail me at donaldjbaumgarten@yahoo.com

  12. Don Baumgarten says:

    Oops, forgot to mention the wading pool and the lookout tower in the park

  13. J.J. De Lura says:

    Lived in Queens Village. My friends and I would bike ride and explore in the 60’s. We rode the path along the GCP north side (before it was widened) and through the tunnels under Union TNPK and Springfield BLVD. And the path brought you right into Alley Pond Park. The tunnels had rusted and broken light fixtures along the walls ( from what I can remember) and a couple of abandon autos (how they got them down there?) . We also rode the Vanderbilt parkway from Winchester BLVD as far west as we can go, which it seemed to end at a small park in Flushing just south of the LIE. Also the paths in APP going north looked like they at one time connected into the park on Little Neck Bay (sorry can’t spell the name) and was cut off by the LIE.

  14. Richard Vehlow says:

    I was a student at the Chapel of the Redeemer Lutheran School: Nursery-Kindergarten 1973-75 and 2nd thru 4th 1976-79. Of those years, 3-4 grade was in the building now occupied by Ebenezer, and N, K, 2 in the building between Ebenezer and Chapel. The vestibule between Ebenezer and the chapel single story building was constructed roughly 1978. In now-Ebenezer, the first floor had three classrooms and the principals office. 2nd floor was a library, kitchen and gymnasium. I heard that in the early 1980s, the gym was converted to more classrooms.

    My 3rd grade teacher was Ms. Elizabeth Crowe and she eventually became principal of Martin Luther HS. I found out that the school was vacant when I drove by in early 2007 while in town. (I now live near Albany, NY). I reached out to Ms. Crowe and she did say the school closed a few years earlier, so 2003 or so is probably a good estimated year. sad to see that.

    My father and grandparents were members of that church some time soon after they moved to Bell Park Gardens in 1949. My parents were married there on June 24, 1967. We were members there through the 1970s until I changed schools to Redeemer Lutheran in northern bayside.

    Someday soon I’d like to go see a church service there for old times sake.

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