Riders on the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch (as I have been since 1992) are quite familiar with the Flushing Main Street station. But there’s something unusual about the name. Most stops along the line are named for communities… Woodside, Bayside, Little Neck, Plandome. Even Broadway is named for the Broadway community surrounding the station, which took its name for Northern Boulevard’s old name. I’ll refer to that thoroughfare again in a moment.
Why specify Flushing by adding “Main Street?” The reason is simple. There had been two Flushing stations.
Let’s turn back the clock to 1922 when one of the first Hagstrom NYC map editions came out. Northern Boulevard is bridged over the Flushing River here, while Willets Point Boulevard never was; there was a bridge on the books that was never built. Northern Boulevard acquired its present name between Queens Plaza and the Nassau County line in 1920. It was called North Hempstead Turnpike east of that, but the Northern Boulevard moniker has gradually take over east of there almost to the Suffolk County line.
But the focus today is on the Northern Boulevard bridge over the bounding Flushing River. Before 1920, Northern Boulevard was Jackson Avenue west of the Flushing River, and Broadway east of the Flushing River, but the portion just east and west of the bride was “Bridge Street.”
When the Whitestone Branch of the LIRR was constructed in the 1800s, a stop was placed at Bridge Street, in Flushing. The part of the line that ran out to Great Neck and Port Washington already had a Flushing station. Thus, the railroad began to call one station Flushing Main Street and the other, Flushing Bridge street. The map shows you where the station was, although it just has “Bridge Sta.” to mark it.
I haven’t covered the Whitestone Branch remnants since 2000, but now I have this 1922 map marking its former route — so I’ll soon be traveling to where the railroad was and seeing if there’s anything left. The branch was shuttered in 1932 after the LIRR unsuccessfully tried to sell it to NYC as an addition to the Flushing IRT. I wish that transaction had taken place!
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