SPRINGFIELD LANE, Brookville

So, it was October 1975 and I’m age 18 and furiously pedaling down Rockaway Boulevard all the way out in Brookville in southeast Queens, quite a ways from home when you consider that I lived in Bay Ridge between 1957 and 1993. I was fascinated to see the median filled with Twin versions of what I learned later were type F lampposts. As far as I know, there’s no known record of their being there… who took pictures of lampposts then? Few do now! Type Fs were short in stature, and the Department of Traffic retained them there because Rockaway Boulevard runs near Kennedy Airport, and in spots around airports, lampposts are kept short in stature so pilots will not mistake them for runway lights!

I later learned that later the same year, the Type Fs were replaced with double Deskeys and those posts have since been replaced. It’s been 40 years now and I still remember this distinctly.

There’s one other thing I remember, though: I exited Rockaway Boulevard by actually crossing the road (that’s pretty dangerous, since it’s a speedway) and climbed back up to the surrounding Brookville neighborhood by using a dirt road that ran through the fields and swamps (much as nearby paved, two-lane Brookville Boulevard does). The road was signed as Springfield Lane (NOT Springfield Boulevard).

Over the years, I explored the history of this road with maps.

 

In 1873, few roads went through eastern and southern Queens, but the ones that did are still there. I have labeled three of the ones shown here: New York Avenue (Guy Brewer Boulevard); Rockaway Turnpike (Rockaway Boulevard) and Springfield Road (now Springfield Boulevard). The other names on the map denote who owned what property. Most of this was open country, though there’s a new development on the left. Everything west of Rockaway Turnpike is now in Kennedy Airport.

Note that Springfield Road ends at Rockaway Turnpike.

 

Skipping ahead 76 years to 1949, this Hagstrom map represents not what the street layout wa ¬†actually like, but what developers hoped to build there. In reality, none of the streets south of 148th Avenue and around the creeks shown on the right were actually built; they are “paper streets” only, though Brookville Boulevard, marked by the thin red line signifying a bus route, did twist and turn through the swamps south to Rockaway Boulevard.

And, Springfield Lane also makes it all the way to Rockaway Boulevard, splitting from Springfield Boulevard south of 146th Avenue. Actually Springfield Lane is what remains of the ancient roadway of Springfield Road, laid out during the colonial era.

Hagstrom at that time expected Rockaway Boulevard to become an expressway, since it is shown with straight lines that don’t intersect the other streets. Nassau expressway was expected to parallel Rockaway Boulevard, but it was never fully built.

 

Much of what Springfield Lane is mapped through is still pretty much forest, an undeveloped “park” called Idlewild Park or Brookville Park on maps.

 

Zooming in closer, though, you can see there’s no road under the gray line.

Also, you can see that the spot where Springfield Lane met Rockaway Boulevard is now at a corporate park and parking lot and there’s no trace remaining there.

 

From an aerial view, you can see that Springfield Lane is a paved road as far south as this open work yard.

 

Springfield Lane also turns into a dirt road just south of 149th Avenue, at the top of the photo.

Another stumper: what is the circular area of cut grass all about?

 

Friends of Idlewild tweeted me a photo of Springfield Lane as a dirt road. I must have bicycled on this back in 1975.

 

This is the southern limit of today’s Springfield Lane at 149th Avenue. If you continued south, you would be on private property and would be shooed out.

 

And, this is the southern end of Springfield Boulevard at Sprinfield Park. Here, Springfield Lane, the true route of Springfield Road, runs off to the left.

There is a dead-end portion of Springfield Boulevard on 147th Avenue, south of here, but this is it, for all intents and purposes. The road roars south through eastern Queens, mainly as a 4-lane divided highway, from Northern Boulevard to FDNY Engine 311 / H&L 158 at 145th Road, where the other lanes peter out and Springfield Boulevard becomes a 2-lane regular road.

 

And one more thing: I experimented with the Clearview font for my pages dealing with roads. Those on mobiles can’t see the title cards, so I repeated it here.

What do you think?

5/27/15

 

 

 

 


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16 Responses to SPRINGFIELD LANE, Brookville

  1. David Thomas says:

    I lived in Springfield Gardens, on Belknap St, from 1960 until 1972. During the summer of 1969 I rode my bicycle to Rockaway Beach just about every day. Much more pleasant than taking the bus. I would ride down Springfield Blvd. and then Springfield Lane to Rockaway Blvd. I remember Springfield Ln. as being paved all the way to Rockaway Blvd., otherwise I would have taken Brookville Blvd. (AKA Swamp Rd.) I didn’t like Brookville because it was narrow with heavy bus and car traffic. At least on Rockaway the lanes were wider and the road was straight. My friends thought I was crazy (they were probably right!) but I never had an incident.

    • Jeff Schrenzel says:

      Yes, you are both right. Springfield Lane did go to Rockaway Turnpike. It was a nice shortcut going from northern Queens to get to Woodmere or Hewlett. Even in the 1960’s the road was not well kept.

    • Denise says:

      As kids we would call Brookville Blvd …Rat Road. People would dump lots of garbage along both sides and we would always see rats along it. We went down it not too long ago, it must have been high tide because water was coming onto the road from both sides. The police closed it off by the time we got back.

  2. the Cheese says:

    I think that the circular area of cut grass off of 149th Avenue between 223rd and 224th Streets is a cricket ground.

    • Indeed, the cricket field was constructed as a nod to the area’s growing Indo-Caribbean population. The corporate park that blocks Springfield Lane from reaching Rockaway Boulevard was completed in 2002.

      This air cargo facility took away nearly 8 acres of parkland and created a traffic light on a mile-long uninterrupted stretch of Rockaway Boulevard. It annoys many motorists who wonder why there is a set of cargo warehouses in the middle of a wetland. The project was approved by the community because the lost parkland by compensated by expanding Idlewild Park to the north and east. According to state laws, any time that parkland is lost, it must be made up by acquiring new parkland nearby.

  3. andy says:

    Until the mid-60s, I definitely remembered travelling on Springfield Blvd./Lane. It was a narrow, winding, paved roadway connecting with Rockaway Blvd. at its south end. Travelling between northern Nassau County and the Rockaways, I used it to go between the Belt Parkway and Rockaway Blvd. Because the area south of 147th Avenue is so swampy, it frequently flooded and must have been closed and demapped at some point (my guess) after 1970.

  4. Jason says:

    I drive past this area all the time. Within the past year, the City extended Springfield Boulevard down to 147th Avenue (connecting it with the former dead end off 147th Avenue) and cut off the turnoff to Springfield lane pictured above. The northern end of Springfield Lane now dead ends just short of Springfield Boulevard.

  5. Bob Conner says:

    Springfield Blvd., the short block by Springfield Park, used to end at 147th Ave.I recall only one house on the East side of Springfield Blvd.There was an auto junk yard, Springfield Auto Wreckers right there. Owned for many years by Pat Kagan and Henny Wiegand, two great guys. I remember it well in the 60’s and 70’s, then they retired and sold to new owners. That was Sector Adam of the 105th Pct. I worked it for many years in a patrol car.

  6. Lillian Toy Neumar says:

    We lived on Springfield Blvd. across from Springfield Park and right before the bend in the road. It passed by the “Deliver’s” residence (where Mrs. Trumpy and her brother “Al” [as we knew him] the janitors in PS52 lived), and on past the Du Drop Inn, the neighborhood watering hole. Directly across 147th (Cherry) Avenue and on the right side of the boulevard, a family by the name of Hetzel lived. Where the road split and became Springfield Lane, a family by the name of Bergimini (sp?) lived, and I believe that there was another house along the way too. I remember the junk yard too. Anyway, we were dislocated by the city because there was supposed to be a street widening project that it seems the funds were not even appropriated for. Houses all the way down the road were taken via eminent domain and either relocated or destroyed. Living on that road was great in the winter. We would cross the boulevard to the pond to see if the “parky” put a skating today sign up. And half the neighborhood would be out on the ice until the wee hours of the day. My parents would flick the Christmas lights to let us know when it was time to come home. And it was a nice walk through the park and up the streets to school. Fond memories of Springfield when it was a quaint little neighborhood – where people knew each other and looked out for one another – and it was a simpler time. Great post. Thanks.

    • Fred Schirmer says:

      I lived on 145th Road a block from Springfield Boulevard from 1949 till 1972. Springfield Lane was important to us kids as George (Teddy) Josiah’s junk yard was there. His house was an immaculate farm house at the edge of the yard. Teddy hired kids to work the yard and I credit him for my automotive lifestyle. At the corner of Rockaway Boulevard was “Karl’s Airport Inn”. It had a reputation as a brothel.

      I graduated with your sister Laurel in 1962 from PS52. Lots of stories there! I remember the Delivers as good friends; I worked with Pete at the Sunrise Drive In Theatre. Charlotte was Mom’s good friend. I think Dennis Desiderio STILL lives on 146 Avenue. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post! Thanks so much for the memories.

  7. Dennis says:

    I remember the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard & Springfield Boulevard. Yes, the sign at Rockaway Boulevard was Springfield Boulevard, not Lane. This was a narrow, bumpy stretch of road that either was not paved or was overtaken by sand & gravel. Another oddity was on Rockaway, the cast iron posts were phased out sporadically beginning around 1974 or so, not all at once. Many hung on for years after. On the dirt Springfield Boulevard, there were modern mast arms on telephone poles. The intersection of Rockaway & Springfield held on until 1979 or so, when the road was closed with mounds of dirt blocking the old entryway to Springfield. There was a signal at this intersection that was removed at this time. I can not understand why they did not repave Springfield instead of closing it off.

  8. Denise says:

    Kevin did you know that on The other side of Meadowmere in back of where Lowes and KMart are now was once a bunch of houses on stilts? My family called it a boathouse. When Kennedy Airport was built they filled in some of the waterways and that changed the current. It made it too strong and the houses started falling in the water and all were eventually condemned by the city.

  9. Harold B Flay Jr says:

    I remember coming back from an altar boy trip at Rye Playland and having to get diverted down Springfield lane when Eastern flight 66 crash landed on Rockaway blvd in front of us back in 1975 then coming back up Brookville which was behind the crash to get back onto Rockaway Blvd/Turnpike to take that back home to Far Rockaway.

  10. Fred Schirmer says:

    I remember the creeks that flowed through Springfield Gardens near me on 145 Road. All traces of the bridges seem gone but there were 2 between 222 Street and the “Fur Factory”. Springfield Lane was popular with us kids as Josiah’s junk yard was there. Everyone loved “Teddy” and his wonderful wife. Their old farmhouse was gorgeous inside and out.
    I can still hear the noise from the Pumping Station (really a filtration plant for Brooklyn’s water supply. The conduit is still underground under South Conduit Boulevard. We used to explore from the park up the creek to WAY north of the parkway; it’s all underground now. Anyone who remembers the area, please contact me. I don’t know where my car keys are but 60 years ago is like yesterday.

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