Many years ago, when Queens was a collection of small towns divided by acres of farms and fields, every town and city had its own street naming and numbering system. This was all right when Queens (then also comprising what is now Nassau County) was a separate and self-governing county. Once Queens consolidated with New York City and subsequently became slowly urbanized, this was a situation that could not be allowed to stand as a plethora of Washington Streets, Main Streets, and 1st and 2nd Streets found themselves in the same street directory in the city ledgers.
And so, the Queens Topographical Bureau, under the guidance of C. U. Powell, was set the task of unifying Queens’ street system in the 1910s. To do this just about every street in Queens was assigned a number, except those in historic areas such as Flushing; some existing major roads kept their names, but were assigned the honorific Boulevard or Parkway to replace what was a mere Avenue or Road; the Jackson Avenue – Broadway combination was renamed Northern Boulevard, for example, while Little Neck Road became Little Neck Parkway. Numbered Avenues, Roads, Drives and Courts run east-west, while Streets, Places, Lanes and Terraces run north-south. Streets run from 1 to 271, and Avenues from 2 to 165: why Queens does not have a 1st Avenue is a mystery.
What’s little publicized is that Queens still has several enclaves where streets do have names, and curiously, many of these pockets have names that are alphabetized in order. In fact those places where named streets do survive are dominated by this trait. They were likely bestowed by real estate developers and bear the names of investors, residents or the developers themselves. Rooting out these origins would be Herculean: tellingly, no one has published any books listing the origins of Queens street names, unlike Manhattan (Street Book, Henry Moscow; Naming New York, Sanna Feirstein) Brooklyn (Brooklyn By Name, Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss) and the Bronx (History in Asphalt, John McNamara). Staten Island has thousands of street names, most of them dating to the 1910s, and very few numbers — many of them were named for early settlers in the colonial era.
Herewith are the alphabetically ordered street names of Queens…
Elmhurst: Aske, Benham, Case, Denman, Elbertson, Forley, Gleane, Hampton, Ithaca, Judge, Ketcham, Layton, Macnish
Elmhurst: Albion, Barnwell, Cornish, Dongan; Gorsline, Hillyer, Ireland, Jacobus, Kneeland. This is an odd entry because the developer, as was sometimes the wont of developers, jumped around and reversed direction. The E and F streets have been lost or renamed.
Rego Park: Asquith, Boelsen, Cromwell, Dieterle, Ellwell Crescents and Fitchett Street
East Elmhurst: Butler, Curtis, Ericson, Gillmore, Humphries, Kearney, McIntosh (A, D, F, I, J, L are skipped and Kearney and McIntosh are in reverse order)
Flushing: alphabetized streets here reflect Flushing’s former status as home to several plant nursery businesses, hence, Ash, Beech, Cherry, Elm, Geranium, Hawthorn, Hollywood, Juniper, Jasmine, Kalmia, Laburnum, Mulberry, Negundo, Oak, Poplar, Quince, Rose. The D avenue is now Delaware; it may have had a plant name originally — there’s also a Georgia Road. The F avenue, Franconia, became 45th Avenue.
West Flushing also has a short list: Avery, Blossom, Cherry (same Cherry as above) Dahlia, Elder.
Auburndale: Ashley, Bagley, Courtney, Effington, Fairchild, Gladwin; the D avenue is now 47th.
Forest Hills: This neighborhood had a number of alphabetized street name systems. One survives: Austin, Burns, Clyde, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fleet, Groton, Harrow, Ingram, Juno, Kessel, Loubet, Manse, Nansen, Olcott.
Queens Village: three survivors from what could have been more named streets: Davenport, Edmore, Fairbury.
Hollis: Arcade, Babylon, Camden, Dunlop, Elmira, Fonda, Galway, Hilburn, Ilion, Jordan, Keeseville, Lewiston, Mangin, Newburg, Ovid, Quencer, Rome, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Turin. Again, they jump around and are not totally in order.
Springfield Gardens has four consecutive alphabetized streets from the back of the alphabet: Roe, Sunbury, Troutville, Ursula.