BURDETTE PLACE, Jamaica

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Since New York City has so few alleys, I tend to be fascinated by them when encountering one. Even better is an alley that has some notable history attached to it.

 

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, a trolley line connected Flushing and Jamaica, running originally through the farms and fields of Fresh Meadows. The above image was captured at 164th Street and 77th Avenue in 1936, just a few months before service ended in 1937. In short order, the tracks were pulled up, the weeds paved over, a center median added, and 164th Street became the fast and furious stretch we know it as today between Flushing Cemetery and the Grand Central Parkway. More images of this ilk can be found in the book I wrote in association with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, Forgotten Queens.

 

South of Grand Central Parkway the trolley line veered off 164th and rode on its own right of way to a terminal on Jamaica Avenue at about 160th Street. In the decades since, most of this trolley route has been either eliminated or hidden pretty well, but one remnant, a dead-end alley named Burdette Place, is still there on 89th Avenue just west of Parsons Boulevard. It’s doubtful the name has anything to do with 1950s-1960s Milwaukee Braves pitching immortal Lew Burdette.

 

If you explore it, as few who don’t live on it will bother to do, it’s not bad at all, with attached and freestanding buildings.

 

For me, of course, the attraction is the presence of a remaining 1960- vintage General Electric M-400 luminaire. Along with their Westinghouse Silverliner compadres, these once lit 95% of New York City streets between 1960 and 1972, when the new bright yellow sodium lights arrived. The M400s burn a rather dull greenish-white, and Burdette Place may be pretty forbidding at night.

6/17/14

 





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4 Responses to BURDETTE PLACE, Jamaica

  1. Hoosac says:

    In the same vein, you might be interested in a video to be found over at the SubChat web site. Someone followed the abandoned route of the LIRR Evergreen branch, as it is now — through backyards, parking lots, even a grocery store. A labor of love, and fascinating to watch.

  2. wayne whitehorne says:

    there is a similar but un-named alley off of 89 Avenue between 146 Street and Sutphin Boulevard. Google maps shows it as “Driveway Drive”.

  3. Alan Gregg Cohen says:

    There’s another nearby existing alley which appears to be part of this former trolley right of way. It is the alley called Glenn Avenue located at 85th Avenue and 164th Street, where the original 164th Street (Flushing-Jamaica) trolley veered off 164th Street (as you mentioned), and traveled in a private right of way between Normal Road and 86th Avenue, crossing Parsons Blvd. at 87th Avenue and 155th Street, where it followed an exension of the Burdette Place right of way running southbound along 155th Street and Burdette Place. It appears that in later years when the trolley was removed and the area was further subdivided and built up, that Burdette Place and 155th Street no longer were connected and probably obtained their separate names. In a satellite and street view of Google Map, there indicates that there is some sort of path or drive between Parsons Blvd. (where it is gated) and runs northeast bound to the end of Glenn Place (with double dashed lines on the map along the old dedicated right of way between those points).

  4. Al says:

    As a pre-kindergartner, pre WW2 my aunties would treat me to a ride College Point Ferry to Jamaica, past Flushing Airport, up Main St. eventually on Franconia Avenue (45th Ave), down 22d (162d) street to Flushing Cemetery (in an earlier age, this stop for the Germans of College Point to a nearby beer garden) further past Kissena Park and Mt St Mary’s Cemetery on thru the cutoff thru the bush eventually to Parsons Blvd. Trolleys were orange as were their sucessor busses (the Q-65).

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