After having previously walked Jamaica Avenue from its beginnings in Brooklyn out to Lefferts Boulevard and then along its easternmost stretch (now known as Jericho Turnpike at the insistence of the local community board, which forced a name change in 2005, I thought I would more or less complete the route from downtown Jamaica out to Queens Village.

The street name has nothing to do with the Caribbean island country. The avenue, the neighborhood and the bay are instead named for the Jameco Indians, an Algonquian tribe that occupied the center and southern sections of what is today’s Queens County, for hundreds of years before the colonial era.

The Jameco name was Algonquian for beaver, which had been plentiful in the region; a remnant of this is Beaver Road, which ran beside the now-filled Beaver Pond south of the Long Island Rail Road. Native Americans used the trail, which connects to original trails that run from the East River to eastern Long Island, for trade with tribes spanning from the east coast to the midwest. After the Dutch settled the present day downtown area, known before 1664 as Rustdorp (“rest town”), Jamaica Avenue (as the Jamaica Plank Road) became a tolled highway for much of its length. The tolls were removed by the time of Queens’ consolidation with New York City in 1898.

Downtown Jamaica Avenue passes several buildings that went up during or just after the colonial period, and just north of Prospect Cemetery which was established in 1668, immediately following the end of Dutch rule.


King Manor, facing Jamaica Avenue in King Park between 150th and 153rd Streets, was the mansion belonging to Rufus King (1755-1827). King, always an ardent abolitionist, was a youthful representative at the Continental Congress from 1784-1786, a US Senator from New York in 1789, a Minister (Ambassador) to Great Britain from 1796-1803 (where he impressed the still-hostile Brits after the close of the Revolutionary War), a US Senator again from 1813 to 1825, and ran unsuccessfully for President as a Federalist against James Monroe in 1816. The mansion was first built in 1730, and King purchased the building in 1805; his son, John Alsop King, NYS Governor from 1857-1859, added Greek Revival additions. The King Manor Association has maintained the building since 1900, and it opened to the public in 1992.


The First Reformed Church of Jamaica, Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street, has stood since 1859, with the congregation in existence since 1715. The original church was located at the present day Jamaica Avenue and 162nd Street, and moved to this location in 1833 and that church burned down in 1857. The First Reformed moved to Jamaica Estates and this building stood empty for much of the 1990s, after which it was reborn in 2008 as the Jamaica Performing Arts Center after a $22 million renovation. Architect Sidney Young was a member of the congregation.

Grace Episcopal Church, across the street, was similarly founded early on, in 1702 as a representative of the Church of England — the churchyard boasts several colonial era gravestones, including that of Rufus King. The present sharply steepled church was built in 1865. If you have a chance to go inside, there are some Depression-era murals painted by the Works Progress Administration.



Now attaining the heart of downtown Jamaica, as Walt Whitman did in the 1850s. We will find a much different Jamaica than he did, however:

And so on to the village of Jamaica, which is composed mostly of one long street, which is nothing else than the turnpike. It is lined mostly by trees, which again have an inner lining of the same, sprinkled with shrubbery…. then there is Gov. John A. King’s residence unseeable from the road, through the impervious trees….

As you walk through the streets of Jamaica, every house seems either a store or a tavern. There are two newspapers, one by Mr. Brenton, otherwise “Dr. Franklin”, a good soul; and the Long Island Farmer. Jamaica has a large, old established Academy for Boys, “Union Hall,” and also an Academy for Girls … The infinitude of Jamaica stores and public houses allows an inference which is the truth, viz.: that farmers, travellers, marketmen, and other passengers on the turnpike through the vilage give it all its trade and retail business. It has no manufactories, and has not been what is called a “growing place” for many years, and probably will not be. –-Walt Whitman’s New York, New Amsterdam 1963


Detouring on 160th Street, you can see a contrast in the amazing awning of the Jamaica Business Resource Center at 90-33; La Casina, a nightclub/restaurant in a Streamlined Moderne style was built in 1933. A 1912 cornice is nearby, signifying the changes the Jazz Age wrought on building styles.


Jamaica Savings Bank, 161-02 Jamaica, is a NYC building on the NYC Register of Historic Places . The bank itself was founded by John Alsop King (see above) in 1866 and occupied property in this location since 1874, when a small frame building was constructed. The present Beaux-Arts structure (Hough and Deuell, architects) went up in 1898. The building is maked by pilasters (half-columns on a building exterior) and two ornamental balconies. The building’s future is uncertain as of June 2011; the bank moved across the street in 1964.


Next door at 161-04 is the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, built in 1898 (A.S. Macgregor, Architect), a NYC Landmark, originally the Jamaica Register Building. The Italian Renaissance building is a somewhat somber companion for the more exuberant Jamaica Savings Bank.


Many neighborhoods now have new street clocks construted in a classic style, but this one at Jamaica Avenue and Union Hall Street is the real McCoy. It originally stood at 161-11 Jamaica Avenue and was likely built around 1900. It was restored and moved to its present location in 1989, directly across the street from the former site of Gertz, one of Jamaica’s largest department stores. It too was declared a NYC Landmark in 1981 (and so can’t be legally removed).


Union Hall Street today is one of the few streets in downtown Jamaica that has retained its old name (here on a Beers Atlas plate in 1873) to the present day. I had previously suspected that the name was retained because of the prevalence of trade unions in New York City, but I was incorrect … as the map indicates, it preserves the name of the Union Hall Academy, opened in 1792, that occupied property on the street close to the Long Island Rail Road, in 1873 running on the surface at the present day Archer Avenue.


This photo, from the Queensborough Public Library, shows former buildings of the Academy, which had by then moved to the locale shown on the atlas plate.

In 1791, the prestigious Union Hall Academy was built in Jamaica Township by residents of the three towns of Queens. An amount of $2,000 was pledged for the construction of the academy and it was an immediate educational success. Within four years after the original construction of the academy, it required expansion. At that time, in addition to a regular staff, there were five assistants to the principal as well as a library and research facilities. Some of the educators were well known such as Henry Onderdonk, the famous Long Island historian who taught at Union Hall between 1832 and 1865. 

In 1841, a fire nearly destroyed the academy while Walt Whitman was on the staff. As early as 1816, it became so popular that a female school was added to the standard academy. However, the rise of the public school system provided too much competition for the fashionable educational establishment. Although other schools were being built such as the Maple Hall Institute, a private boarding school for boys, the Union Hall Academy was closed in 1873. — Kathleen Lonetto, Long Island Heritage


A Conway chain store facade has now erased the last traces of the formerly grand Gertz Department Store, which formerly occupied this building on the south side of Jamaica Avenue between Union Hall Street and Guy Brewer Boulevard. The store, established by Benjamin Gertz as a stationery store in 1918, lasted until 1981 when it was consolidated under the Stern’s banner and later, the Macy’s flagship banner. The Gertz Mall had opened in 1988.


I made my one and only visit to Gertz in September 1968 — it was quite a road trip for our Bay Ridge family. We must have trundled out on the J train, a rarely plumbed line for western Brooklyners. My father was in search of a large furniture wall unit –successfully, since he kept it till he died in 2003. I recall that my first purchase of a Brooklyn Hagstrom map happened here. I also remember him repeatedly sending the steak back at a neighboring eatery. Too much pink.


It must have galled both Gertz and J. Kurtz & Sons that two retailers with such similar names were close neighbors. The joyfully Art Deco building at the corner of Brewer Blvd. and Jamaica Avenue went up in 1931 (architects Allmendinger & Schlendorf –easy for them to say). It was designated a NYC Landmark in 1981. Kurtz distinguished itself from Gertz by specializing in furniture. Jacob Kurtz had founded the company in 1870, and the furniture store occupied the building until 1978, coinidentally the same year the Jamaica el closed (it was rerouted under Archer Avenue in 1988).

Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, which runs from Jamaica Avenue south to Rockaway Boulevard at Kennedy Airport, is one of eastern Queens’ oldest roads. On mid-19th Century maps it shows up as New York Avenue, became New York Boulevard by the 1920s, and was renamed along its entire length for 5-term State Assemblyman Brewer in 1982.


Advertised as “Jamaica’s Largest Playhouse,” the Merrick Theatre had its grand opening on January 15th, 1921, with a two-day engagement of Paramount’s “Conrad in Quest of His Youth,” starring Thomas Meighan. The feature movies were presented with live prologues with “concert soloists and scenic effects.” Music for the entire program, including short subjects and a newsreel, was played by a symphony-sized orchestra, supplemented by a “magnificent” pipe organ. The Merrick had a complete change of show every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Its next feature attraction was Paramount’s “Life of the Party,” with Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle. cinematreasures

Taking a brief meander up 164th from Jamaica Avenue we find the First Presbyterian Church complex, including the parsonage, at 89-60. It is yet another in Jamaica’s collection of very old church buildings. Jamaica’s Presbyterian congregation, founded in 1663, may be the oldest continuous one in the United States. The church is housed in three buildings on 164th, two of them very old.

The original congregation’s stone church stood from 1699 to 1813 at what is now Jamaica Avenue and Union Hall Street; during the Revolutionary War, the British commandeered it and imprisoned patriots there. In 1813, it was replaced with what is now the church sanctuary in a location at Jamaica Avenue and 163rd Street: it was placed on logs and pulled by mule to its present location in 1920. The First Presbyterian’s manse, or staff living quarters, was erected on Jamaica Avenue in 1834 and it was moved to a location just to the north of the sanctuary, well back from the street, that same year. In 1925, the columned Magill Memorial Building, a combined church, auditorium and library that also included a gym and bowling alleys, was built just north of the manse.

Across the street there’s a classic neon shoe store sign. My mother swore by the “Enna Jettick” brand of affordable footwear, which was in business for decades.

The facade of the Valancia Theatre, not changed a great deal since its days as a vaudeville and movie theater, seems slightly unreal when viewed among the busy storefronts of Jamaica Avenue in 2011.

One of the boons of the Jamaica elevated being torn down in 1978 is that the Loew’s Valencia, at 165-11 Jamaica, can now be better viewed from this very busy stretch of the avenue.  The theatre, designed by John Eberson in a Baroque Spanish style, opened in 1929. It has an intricately fashioned brick and terra cotta façade designed to be viewed from up close: the platforms of the Jamaica el were a few feet away. You really have to tarry for several minutes to take in all the cherub heads, seashells and other decorative elements. Unfortunately, it must not have been easy to examine it from anywhere except the elevated! It was one of five Loews “Wonder Theatres” that opened in 1929 and 1930, with the others being the Kings in Flatbush, the Paradise on Grand Concourse in the Bronx, the Jersey in Jersey City, and the Loews 175th on Broadway in Washington Heights.

The Valencia seated nearly 3,600, featured goldfish pools in the lobby, wrought iron railings, an auditorium resembling a festive Spanish garden, air conditioning as early as the 1950s, and pipe organ music until 1965. As with many Loews theatres, clouds and twinkling stars were projected across the dark theatre ceiling. The theatre presented elaborate stage shows until 1935, when they were replaced by double features. The Valencia is now a church, the Tabernacle of Prayer, which thankfully has retained most of Eberson’s detail inside and out.


Signs of Jamaica


After the elevated train on Jamaica Avenue was torn down after its closure in 1978 it was thought that businesses would get a boost from the lack of the noisy el and the opening of the street to sunshine. The city also played a role, disposing of the dwarf lampposts that lit the street under the el and instituting a general spruce-up, building faux brick sidewalks, brick patterns at the crosswalks, and specialized stoplights and lampposts from 150th-169th Streets. By 2011, the posts had started looking somewhat the worse for wear, as rust has creeped in.

The posts do preserve Queens’ biggest collection of white and blue color coded street signs (every borough got its own color — Manhattan and Staten Island shared gold and black). By 2011 most extant ones have been taken away, but since these are “embedded” in the posts, it must be too tough to bother removing them.


The Fulton Furniture Store at Jamaica Avenue and 168th Street, preserves Jamaica Avenue’s former name, Fulton Street, as it was known until the 1910s. I am unsure if the old Fulton Street was meant to be an extension of Brooklyn’s Fulton Street, the roadway from which Jamaica Avenue springs in East New York. An even earlier name, Ferry Road, encompassed both roadways, and led to the East River ferry to Manhattan.

Two ancient painted ads can be seen looking west from here: Spear’s Jamaica Store and one for Sachs Furniture.


A block away at Archer Avenue and 168th Street is the imposing 104th Field Artillery Armory, which went up in 1933 (Charles B. Meyers, architect)


At 169th and Jamaica there are a couple of faded ads for Pintchik Paint, perhaps more famed for its Park Slope location at Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street.


East of 169th Street Jamaica Avenue is still a commercial strip, but calms somewhat, except for the traffic. These strefronts can be found at 170th, including Quasar Liquors, which juses an Egyptian-style front on its awning sign.


East of 171st Street a facade is emblazoned J.J. Friel, est. 1870, and a barely visible painted sign can be seen on the side of the building. The company dispensed loans from a Broadway location and from the home office here at 171-03 Jamaica Avenue. A painted sign is still detectible on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn.

175th Street and Jamaica Avenue. Plastic letter sign for a tape recorder repair shop no longer there, and painted signs for Carpen’s Plumbing Supplies, which is still there. Hey kids, tape recorders came before cassette tapes, CDs and MP3’s and came after 78 RPM records and phonographic cylinder recorders.


The Afrikan Poetry Theatre Ensemble was the forerunner to the cultural center, The Afrikan Poetry Theatre. It was an aggregation of poets, singers and musicians, that organized in 1976 to bring conscious raising lyrics in their songs, exciting sounds of Jazz, funk and African rhythms, and the “Power of The Word” in their poetry. The group was founded and organized by John Watusi Branch, and the late Yusef Waliyaya, both poets and cultural workers associated with the “East” Cultural center, and its school Uhuru Sasa (Freedom Now) in Brooklyn, NY in the early 1970’s. Afrikan Poetry Theatre

After 2 years at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard the APT moved to its present location here at Jamaica Avenue and 177th Street in 1979.

Across the street is Nemo Tire Supply and its hand lettered signs.


At Jamaica Avenue and 179th Place is one of those simple country churches (that were once in the country) that can pop up anywhere. In this case it’s the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, built in about 1900 in what was likely a dusty track surrounded by fields and farms. One of those unpublicized surprises and forgotten landmarks you find all over NYC — if you know where to look.


Coal & Ice, at about 182nd Street. Can’t make out the top line. This ad was placed primarily so eastbound riders on the LIRR could see it. Queens Check Cashing, 182-09 Jamaica, has a handsome logo, a capital crowned Q with the CC initials in the circle. According to ‘faded ad’ expert Frank Jump, it’s Rubel Coal & Ice.


Preparing to enter Hollis, which is largely residential. Nevertheless, Jamaica Avenue is thick with factories and warehouses here, and these modest residences face a concrete plant across the avenue.



Generally located between 183rd/Dunkirk Streets, Hillside Avenue and Linden and Francis Lewis Boulevards, Hollis was named by developer Frederick Dunton after his hometown in New Hampshire in the 1880s. Previously, Hollis had been the staging area for a key skirmish in the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War in 1776. American general Nathaniel Woodhull was captured by British forces at a tavern owned by Increase Carpenter at the present Jamaica Avenue and 197th Street. Woodhull was struck repeatedly by a sword when he refused to speak the words God Save the King, instead saying, “God save us all!” He was imprisoned in a prison ship in Gravesend, Brooklyn, and died at New Utrecht in September 1776. Woodhull is buried near his home in Mastic, Suffolk County. A pair of winding streets near the Hollis LIRR station are named Woodhull and Carpenter Avenues.

In recent years, Hollis produced the Grammy-nominated, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group, RUN-DMC.


A pair of massive, many-windowed warehouse buildings at 184th and 185th Streets, the Ideal (Toy Company) and Rodless Buildings.

A pair of fenceposts at 193rd Street and Jamaica Avenue emblazoned with “HPG” initials, Fulton Street (Jamaica Avenue’s old name) and “Hollis Park Boulevard” mark the edge of Hollis Park Gardens, built as a Jamaica suburb in the early 1920s (joining nearby Holliswood and Jamaica Estates, where Mario Cuomo and Donald Trump spent part of their youths. The large homes on wide green lawns provide quite a contrast to the bustling, industrial Jamaica Avenue.


Jamaica Avenue skirts Bellaire as it eases out of Hollis. The parish of St. Gabriel’s Anglican (Episcopal) Church at Jamaica and Woodhull Avenues originated in 1891 (at least a preserved cornerstone shows that date) and the present ashlar brick church was built in 1959. The parish house on Woodhull is home to QSAC, which provides services to children with autism.


…and nearby on Jamaica Avenue there is an angel.

Hollis Court Boulevard exists in two separate parts, one in Flushing and Auburndale, running from 46th Avenue and Utopia Parkway southeast to Francis Lewis Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway, the other a 4-lane road with a center grassy median running from Hillside Avenue’s junction with the Clearview Expressway and Grand Central Parkway southeast to Jamaica Avenue. An intermediate section between 73rd Avenue and 86th Avenue adjoining Cunningham Park was renamed Hollis Hills Terrace in the 1970s.

At its southern end, it hosts some of the neighborhood’s more bespoken houses.


Easing into Queens Village, Jamaica Avenue perks up somewhat and apartment and office buildings, as well as office blocks, begin to appear. Village Plumbing still boasts a sign several decades old, and it looks as if it once owned all of this building.

The land where Queens Village sits today is actually on the western end of the vast, flat Hempstead Plains that dominate southern Nassau County. The area around Jamaica Avenue and Springfield Boulevard was settled early on, in the 1820s, by entrepreneur Thomas Brush; an early name for the settlement was Brushville but by the late 1800s, it was called simply Queens. The “Village” was added later to differentiate it from the county and borough.


Hempstead Avenue, NY State Route 24, begins at Jamaica Avenue and 213th Street. It quickly escapes into Nassau County and forms the southern end of Belmont Park Racetrack, retaining the name Hempstead Turnpike as far east as Farmingdale. Route 24 extends out to NYS Route 110 in East Farmingdale.


Callister Building and Citizens Community Buildings, 215th Street. The latter contains the Community Theater, home to the New Greater Bethel Ministries. It was showing films as recently as 2007. The ministry blandified and whitewashed the marquee from when it was a movie theater.


A grand old street clock decorates an otherwise bland brick building at 215-48. The clock may have been a part of the previous building on the site.


Nearby at Howard Jewelers, a venerable neon sign shines forth.


If you look carefully you can see the faded “Queens Diner” faded sign next to the newer Dunkin’ Donuts. Across the street, the H&R Block tax service is in a building that seems to have had a grand past.


A storefront at Jamaica Avenue and 219th Street fronts on a building that extends far into the rear. In the early 20th and late 19th Centuries, many taverns maintained a bowling alley or two for those so inclined (as did Neir’s in Woodhaven) and that is likely the explanation here. On 219th, a locksmith retains some old signage.

The Long Island Rail Road has had a station at Jamaica Avenue and Springfield Boulevard since 1834, the first year the railroad penetrated this far east. The square formed by the two roads and Amboy Lane is the Queens Village and Bellerose World War II Veterans Memorial Plaza.


The Queens Reformed Church (Eglise de Bethesda) dominates the NE corner of Jamaica Avenue and Springfield Boulevard. The “old white church” opened in 1859 as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. The columned portico was added in 1947.


The Eglise de Bethesda serves the region’s Haitian community. Across the street the Queens Theatre has run the gamut in recent years from XXX porno palace to a storefront church, but seems unoccupied at the moment (June 2011).

Photographed May 2011; page completed June 6, 2011


Categorized in: Walks Tagged with:

78 Responses to JAMAICA AVENUE, Queens

  1. James says:

    the ground floor of the building with the blue awning to the right of the New Greater Bethel Ministries at 215th St once housed “Beggar’s Opera”, a club/concert venue until the mid 1980s often advertised on the radio.

    • maureen says:

      here it is…..

    • liz says:

      Hi James,
      I have know idea how old your post is . I have been unable to find any images of beggar’s opera club that we would go to in the 70’s and early 80’s. By any chance have you been able to kocate any online?

  2. Sheila says:

    Ah, the Community Theater. My first date in 1945. Across the street was Rector’s soda parlor and ice cream emporium where me and my date followed the double feature with a chocolate soda.

    At the intersection of 210th Street and Jamaica Ave was King Kullen grocery store, the site of my first and only theft, a box of ZuZu ginger snaps (small size).

    My first union job in 1947 at Ideal Toy Factory as a seamstress. I made dolls hats by the dozens, only lasted in the tough environment for a few weeks. I joined the Bakery and Confectioners’ Union which somehow had managed to organize the place.

    Thanks for fond memories of a lost world.

    • Francesca says:

      Sheila, I have a vintage woman’s hat the label says is an ” Ann” made in Hollis, NY. Have you ever heard of that company or have any information about it and their hats?

  3. David Thomas says:

    The Queens Reformed Church has three separate congregations. They rent out to Eglise de Bethesda as well as a Hispanic church whose name escapes me at the moment.

  4. David Thomas says:

    The clock at 215-48 Jamaica Ave belonged to Chase Bank, which left Queens Village for several years, then reopened at Jamaica Ave and 219th St.

    • kwell says:

      Was originally Chemical Bank branch for many years….

    • Albert Beyda says:

      Hello David, I am sending you same message I sent to Sheila above. All the help of the community is important.

      Your reminiscing of this wonderful neighborhood is very interesting. The company I work for did business in Queens Village on corner of Springfield Blvd and Hempstead Avenue ( Building that housed Calvin Graham’s Houies Bakery, now its a Subway sandwich shop) since 1940. We own and operate the billboard advertising signs on that building. The city is actually trying to force us to remove these signs AND make us pay a $90,000 fine, because they claim we have no evidence the signs were up and running between 1940-1963. This gap of 23 years, they claim, nullifies our legal right to operate these signs. However, the signs were never removed, they were existent within those 23 years; it is just simply very difficult to obtain historical photos of such a specific time period. We are looking for neighbors who were around between those 23 years who remember these signs and can help us show the city that after 74 years they can not just penalize and force us out! If you remember seeing these signs on that corner, please let me know. This is a very troubling amount of money we are facing payment on, and also our business is in jeopardy. I can provide photo of these signs if you need. Please feel free to reach out and spread this message. G-d Bless, Albert Beyda 212-644-6147.

    • Bobbi says:

      Chase Manhattan Bank.

      The First National City Bank was (is?) at the corner of 218th Street & Jamaica Avenue.

      Between the Chase Manhattan Bank & the First National City Bank was the Queens Village Public Library before they built the library on 217th Street.

  5. Kathy Reitano says:

    The country church at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 179th Place was Hillside Presbyterian Church as I grew up and had my family. (1950’s 60’s and 70’s) Many of the youth from the church have remained friends for our lifetimes. Thanks for such wonderful memories.

  6. Ralph says:

    Didn’t the front of the Ideal Toy Co. building have cemented cow’s heads on it?
    And before Ideal Toy Co. took over the building in the 1930’s, which was once Langer Printing, was the premises a milk dairy processing plant?

  7. Mike says:

    165th Street was the most prestigious shopping street in Queens in the 1950s. Macy’s had the first roof top parking I had ever seen. Just inside the front door was a display of toothpaste, hair tonic and some other products like that. There was a shelf of Ipana toothpaste. Next to it was a case of Macy’s toothpaste for half the price of the Ipana. Next shelf down had Colgate toothpaste and next to that, a different Macy’s toothpaste for half the price. Same sort of display with the hair tonic. You could buy Wild Root Cream Oil or the Macy’s equivalent. My father bought me a Brownie Hawkeye camera for $5.00. Other places on the block included a Hart Schaffner & Marx men’s store and a Schrafft’s Restaurant with a little stone basin in front with running water and a sign that said “Dog Bar”.

    Around the corner on Jamaica Ave. were the movie theaters. Everyone seems to remember the Valencia, but across the Ave. was the RKO Alden where I took a date to see Lover Come Back with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.

    That’s enough memories for one post.

    • TOM says:

      WOW. THE DOG BAR.Thanks for that memory.I always thought that was the COOLEST thing in the world.
      Your memories are right on target.RIght across the street was an EYE DOCTOR.My mother used to go to him.I always
      Chuckled at his name…….DR.I NEWMAN,optometrist.What great memories.At the end of the street was the BUS TERMINAL.
      I remember there was a MEZZANINE UPSTAIRS with a very steep stairs going up to it.I don’t know what was up there,but
      Was a big walk up.There was also a MAPLE FURNITURE STORE that faced the back side (bus waiting area) and they had
      Show windows.Once I saw MY BEDROOM FURNITURE on display,was I impressed.I guess it doesn’t take much for a 10 yr
      Old kid to be impressed.SPecial thanks for the reference to Macy’s ROOFTOP PARKING,and sales area just inside.I can
      remember buying a pint of COFFEE ICE CREAM,and a metal spoon,probably 10 Cents,and eating it on the Q4 BUS as
      I headed home.Do you remember the DELEHANTY INSTITUTE HIGH SCHOOL IN JAMAICA? Several of my friends
      Went there.
      Again WOW!!!!! What fun memories.I don’t think anybody would remember the DOGGIE FOUNTAIN…?.

  8. Mike says:

    When you came out from under the el and crossed 168th Street, on of the first establishments on the south side of the Avenue was a bar/restaurant that had a field stone front. Just past that there was Baer’s Baby Carriage store with a neon sign depicting a bear pushing a carriage. On the north side of the Ave at the corner of 169th Street was a run down Olympia Diner in the old style of diners that were supposed to look like railroad cars. That was demolished about 1956 when Mays was built on the site.

  9. john mastranatoni says:


    • Eileen F. says:

      Yes, John. I used to go to Community Gardens regularly in 1964-65. Fun place. Saw The Four Seasons there live while “Rag Doll’ was a big hit. We all stood on the dance floor while they raced through the crowd to the stage. I guess there was no back stage entrance or it wasn’t in use. Never saw anybody else famous, there. That was an unusual booking for “The Gardens”. But it was a fun place with a very large dance floor. Good times!

      • Lee Askern says:

        Ahhh..Community Gardens…Two brothers were bouncers, maybe owners…think their last name was Doyle……I used my drivers license to get part the bouncer on the right and my underaged friend used my draft card to get past the bouncer on the left. Saw Ronnie Spector (Ronnettes) perform there…and their house band, Ricky and the Vassels were fantastic.

        • Ron says:

          Spent many a fri night there. I remember you would get a drink with addmission but we would get a little buzz before we got there and hardly spend any money.

          that’s when it was 18 not 21 to drink, never liked the change. still don’t.

          there was also a bar a couple of doors down that wasn;t too bad

        • Ken says:

          Brennan was last name Jerry and Kevin. The owners

    • Joan says:

      I had many a great night at community gardens dancing. They had a huge hall in back and a cozy bar area in front. Never any trouble just good times.

  10. pete says:

    Does anyone know the location of the Music bldg where Metallica and Anthrax got their start?

    • Rich T says:

      That building was on Archer Ave and Union Hall St. I was working for DSNY in 1984 and remember hearing loud music and seeing long hair musicians hanging out. I found out years later it was Metallica. Jamacia Ave from Van Wyck to FLB was my DSNY route for 20 years. I bought a lot of records back in the 60’s and 70’s at Mays, Record Spectacular, Gertz, Triboro Records…..Bought my bell bottoms and hip cloths in Gibbs, a few doors down from Record Spectacular, a little east of Merrick Blvd on Jam. Ave. I lived in Woodhaven but spent a lot of time in Jamacia!!!!

      • Maggie says:

        Gobbs. That was It . Couldn’t remember. They had the 1st zColore Bell Bottoms. Red, Yellow Aqua. SOOO Cool. 1968.

    • Anonymous says:

      92-32 Union Hall St. in Jamaica

  11. I remember old King Kullen store # 2 209-16 Jamaica Ave Bellaire NY 28-zip code.. Mom and Dad went to king kullen shopping year from 1949 to 1973 Then fire king kullen store. Then now is US post office queens village 11428

  12. Nadine says:

    Does anyone remember Winter’s Luncheonette on Jamaica Avenue? Would anyone perchance have any photos? It was a big part of my younger days, and I would love to see if my recollection (from the mid-late 1970’s) matches what it really looked like. Friends and I used to hang out in the park and then go for pizza or to Winter’s for lunch.

    • Howard Taylor says:

      I remember Winter’s well but from the 50’s, having left QV in late ’59 or early ’60. Alas, no pictures however.

    • Gary Hiel says:

      Sorry not to have photo of Winter’s.

      Every Memorial day, our Boy Scout Troops (332, 432 of Incarnation Parish) would march in the parade, afterwards treating us to an ice cream soda there. A small thing, but I lived for this special event in the 60’s. The place was every bit the “small town” soda fountain/lunch counter/ higher end candy store/ice cream parlor. They also had a wonderful selection of Easter chocolates in season.

    • Alicia McGregor says:

      I don’t remember winters, my mother used to take me t Woolworths for the soft ice cream. Do you or any else remember Ruthie Barnes dance studio? We were on the Alden stage in the late 50’s as little kids.

      • LORI BAILEY says:

        My mother was a student for many years. I have pictures and programs. Mom started in about 1944-1958ish.

      • June Clark says:

        My mom and I would take a bus from Elmont to Jamaica, and after shopping we would go to Woolworth’s for a frozen custard.

        • mary Tanza chekow says:

          Hi Lori!!! I also took lessons from Ruthie Barnes. What was your mother’s name, I wonder if I would have known her. I will have to check my recital programs that I still have tucked away.I am trying to connect with people that knew Ruthie Barnes. She was a huge influence on my life, and I became a dancer, then a teacher because of her. I still remember all the dance routines! I loved shopping in Jamaica in between lessons. Mary Tanza Chekow

      • mary Tanza chekow says:

        Hi Alicia, I am desperately trying to connect with anyone who took dancing lessons with Ruthie Barnes. I was a student of hers from 1966 to around the 80’s. I have such great memories of her. I am also trying to find the name of the perfume Ruthie used to wear! I would love to hear from you!

    • Bobbi says:

      I remember Winter’s. Not well, but I do remember it.

      There was Gene’s at 216th & Jamaica Avenue. My sister and I got into trouble by skipping Sunday School to go to there.

      And there was another on Jamaica Avenue, Schumacher’s (not sure of the spelling) between 212th Street and Hollis Court Blvd.

  13. George Cassidy says:

    You blew off Bellitte’s, on the Avenue around 179th Street, which is the oldest American bicycle shop continuously operating under one ownership.

  14. Carol says:

    Wow, I think I have a photo of my brother on Jamaica Ave near Bellitte’s! Is it still in operation?! This picture would be from the mid 1960s…

  15. lori says:

    I am interested in a bar on Jamaica Ave near 170th ave. I was there from the 1920’s to maybe late 1930’s. I think it may have been called “Albino’s” Any thoughts where I could look?

  16. peter mccarthy says:

    my father use to own a Sinclair station on Jamaica ave.called johns service station.it then turned into a b p station.there was a diner called kittys across the rd from it.that was in the 60s to 71.

  17. Diane says:

    Hello, I am Diane and I lived on 212 street, Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village on top of a store. Across the street was a gas station with a giant man holding a set of weights, we use to sit on his feet and hang out with friends.
    The ice cream parlor,I believe was named Thidmanns(??) had the best hamburgers and chocolate fudge cake. The Town corner bar was on the corner of 212th street and Cunninghams bar was a few doors away. Pete was a bartender there, but I can not remember his last name.

    I moved away in 1973, seems alot has changed but thank you for the memories.

    • Bobbi says:

      The ice cream parlor was Tiedemann’s. They made THE BEST strawberry ice cream ever.

      • Cathy says:

        Tiedemann’s was off the corner of 191 St on Jamaica Ave. – across from the Hollis theater.

        • Gv says:

          Tiedemann’s — treat after movie at Hollis movie theater across st.
          And same block as Tiedemann’s – Ed Earl’s toy store — Lionel trains, baseballs. Same block as PS 35.
          George V.

    • George says:

      I’m going to send you a photo of the giant who held barbells.

      Passed it many times on way to grandparents in 1060’s.

      It was located on south side of Jamaica Ave.

      It’s now in New Jersey on Route 1&9 outside Holland Tunnel.

  18. Alicia McGregor says:

    Thanks for the memories. I lived at 168th and 89th ave. Anyone remember a pizza place at 168th and Jamaica ave?

    • Cathy says:

      Who remembers the donut stand in the 165 St bus terminal?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Alicia, I am Margie. I lived on 168th st and 89th ave was around the corner. There was a large parking lot, and the police station down the street. Then there was the back of Food Fair and the back of Mays dept store. I moved out in 1974. I vaguely recall a pizza place, but I never went there.

    • Edisa Rivera says:

      Oh,! My and I would stop to eat slices after shopping in the area. I would get a slice after school. I attended Jamaica High.

  19. Jerry d says:

    My dad owned Gibbs and later so did I. Thank you for rembering when Jamaica ave was the third largest volume street in New York City. On a Saturday we would’ve gone through 60 to 70 dozen bell bottoms alone!!!
    Thanks for remembering.
    Jerry D

    • Barbara D. says:

      Jerry, did you have long brown hair? I used to love going to that store with my girlfriends, late 60’s. We were always in our school uniforms, Woodhull Prep in Hollis.

      • Jerry d says:

        Hi Barbara, That would be me. And yes I do remember your group. Some interesting things you may not know. We employed 40 sales associates in that location and sold suits to all the do wop groups as well as the Beatles who used to sneak into the record store and smoke herb with Stanley in the back. We also catered to all the wise guys from East New York and Brownsville. We could completely tailor a suit in a half hour.
        When I think back to those times I wish there was a time machine. I’d go to Teddys gator hamburgers, dirty Nats for pizza. I loved the monkey meat pies sold on the street. Do you remember the elderly Nun that sat outside Gertz with a basketball t for spare change. And Gertz had a great place to eat called the Long Island Room. I could go on but thanks for interest and business and allowing me the journey back in time!,
        Jerry D

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  21. Lisa says:

    My family owned a lot of real estate in Jamaica as far back as the 1870’s I believe. I am finding this blog very fascinating. My great great uncle was the youngest magistrate in 1911 I believe. My family owned many stores and had a house on 160 Jamaica ave I believe. They also had a house on 100 Clinton ave on the corner of hillside. I don’t know if any of those roads exist anymore. I do plan on making a trip out there soon. I absolutely love how old these buildings are…signs and all.

  22. M. Joseph says:

    218-19 Jamaica Avenue (H & R Block) was home to Tom McCann Shoes when I attended Our Lady of Lourdes Grammar School during the mid 1970’s; although my shoes came from the nearby Buster Brown. (“Across the street, the H&R Block tax service is in a building that seems to have had a grand past.”)

  23. Rich Terry says:

    I sang with a DOO WOP group in NYC 1964-65. Went there with a friend who I met in USAF. He lived in the projects in the Bronx. We appeared at the “Community Gardens” LI a couple times, once as a warm-up for the Vibrations (“Watusi”). I saw the “Four Tops” there also. I’m looking for info on history of the club.

    Thank You

  24. Joe Queens says:

    At 182 st, the place was Rubel coal and Ice corp. they were all over brooklyn and queens, at least. they still have their names on some old buildings in Brownsville and East New York.

  25. Francesca says:

    I own a hat that I bought in 1960. The label says it was made in Hollis, NY by “Ann”. Can anyone give me some information about it?

  26. Andrea Ginsburg fagin says:

    My father and uncle owned Gaines Jewelers at 163-02 Jamaica AV. ,in the Merrick Theater building
    I lived on 153rd St. across from Kings Park and went to P.S 170 until I moved in 1950.
    Anybody there at that time?

  27. Great memories as a 13 – 14 kid traveling Hempstead Turnpike pass Belmont Racetrack, which is still there. South Road and Union Hall, the old court house. I’ll stop now…

    Jamaica Queens and Jamaica Avenue had the best clothing stores. Over over to Hillside Avenue and catch the subway into Manhattan. Love it…. Thanks!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am trying to locate information on a courthouse/shelter for children that was off (I believe) Merritt and Archer. Can’t for the memory of me remember it’s name, but that’s how I was acquainted with Jamaica and eventually left there to move to St. Albans….I still visit, old friends are still there and Jamaica was the place to be, the bus station, Blimpy’s when you got off the bus…so many memories. I remember taking the little bit of coins and walking to the corner store from that shelter

  29. Cheeze says:

    Can’t remember the courthouse/children’s shelter that was around Merritt/Archer Avenue. I use to walk to the corner store and then wander off to Jamaica Avenue, that was my introduction to a memorable place in my childhood. After that we went to a foster home and then eventually wound up in St. Albans, where friends remain, nothing but great memories of Jamaica, the bus station and when I started working, I use to come home on the train and the guys at the Blimpy’s would have my sandwich waiting so I wouldn’t miss the bus home. Wow, takes me back!!

  30. Mark says:

    The Gothic frame church on the corner of 179th Place & Jamaica Avenue was originally built as The German Presbyterian Church c1900.
    They changed their name to the Hillside Presbyterian Church in 1914. They merged with First Presbyterian in 1969. Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church since 1984.

  31. Mark says:

    The Queens Village LIRR station was originally located on 212st. (Just south of Jamaica Ave.) and opened c.1837 as Brushville station. The station was relocated to Springfield Blvd. & Jamaica Ave. in 1871 & the current high level station plaza was built in 1924. The former station at 212st. was deactivated and reopened in 1900 as Interstate Park (casino/pigeon shooting) and then again in 1906 as Bellaire station which closed in 1972.

  32. June says:

    Remember the Jamaica bus terminal? I lived to go into the baby carriage stores. Do moms still push those lovely carriages in NY.
    My first memories of life (1940’s) were in an apt over a fish store on Sutphin Blvd.

  33. June says:

    Does anyone remember Bargain John’s?!

  34. julie says:

    looking at all the wonderful photos but i dont see much civic pride lots of trash and maybe ‘ it not my job mentality’ if the adult not display respect for the community either will the kids. all it takes is a shovel and a pail and some elbow grease .. remember elbow grease hard work pays off
    9/11 we will never forget

  35. Sharon L says:

    I remember macys franklin simon johns bargain store hertz mays bobs burgers Tom McCann Fred brauns reval Knox Woolworth Marguerita pizza (still there) roller skating rink. Alden and Valencia and Community theaters priceless the Casablanca johns bargaun store trunz meat market. Bakers shoes The creep. Arrowsmith shoes chock fulla nuts nedicks. Two bowling alleys and shooting range. I thought we had moved to Hollywood!!

  36. judy senning says:

    my grandmother owned a bar in jamaica queens called the ratskellar?? my christening was held there! her name was louise pantozzi-kilbride anyone remember her..or the bar?? thanks..

  37. Michael Greaux says:

    What was the name of new York Blvd when the old racetrack was in Jamaica where Rochdale is now. It was new York Ave in the 19th century by 1920”s it was new york blvd. I need to know what was it’s name prior to it being called new York Avenue in the 19th century, I can’t seem to find the answer anywhere,I need someone out there”s help please

  38. Warren Tesoro says:

    I worked at TriBoro Records on165th St by the bus terminal for years ago, they had everything from jazz,R&B, pop, albums and 45’s. Met the coolest girls from Jamaica Estates, dated them. Had a Doowop group and Latin jazz band

  39. mike says:

    I believe the picture you have of the Callister Building is incorrect. The building on the south side of Jamaica Ave and 212 street (next to Maaco) has “Callister Brothers” inscribed into the bricks on the front of the building.

  40. I remember Winters on Jamaica Ave. In the 60’s moms would go for lunch leaving babies outside asleep in carriages! When we did bring a toddler inside, they would put their fingerprints on the mirrors causing annoyance from the lady who would then spray them clean! Buster Brown had a hand wound machine that showed old movies to amuse children. Good days gone!

  41. Loved this site. Was looking for info on Hertz Dept. Store. Used to shop these stores even before moving to Queens. Used to live on Fairbury Ave in Queens Village. Thanks for the memories!

  42. Mark says:

    Does anyone rember the jewelry store on Jamica Ave….Guessing 158 st ? They had a recognizable name like Bulova or someting that you remembered . I think they had one or two other stores in maybe Astoria. I remember seeing an ad in the daily news about 1980 ish for a engagement ring for 59.99. The gold ring was thin and the diamond was like 2 record player needles thick.
    I remember the ad I just dont remember the store.

  43. Ruben says:

    Lampstons 5 and dime on 165 Cindy’s diner best charbroiled burgers chock full a nuts Paterson silks revel Knox hats bought first pair of playboy shoes there for twenty dollars just bought another pair in 2017 for three hundred originals triboro records cherry valley deli Macy’s Gertz margarita pizza donut shop in the terminal as well as pizza I lived in Springfield gardens and since a slice of pizza was always the same as bus fare would have another slice and walk home

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