NORMAL ROAD, Jamaica Hills

A short road zig zags in Jamaica Hills between Parson Boulevard and 162nd Street in Jamaica Hills, a few blocks north of the main drag, Hillside Avenue. It’s a pleasant enough street, lined on both sides with one or two-family homes, and shady street trees. It’s like a lot of New York city streets, normal on every way. In fact it’s Normal in every way.


At first, the reason behind this name wasn’t immediately apparent, at least in Queens, but I remembered Normal, a mid-sized town in central Illinois, and researched that name. In the 1860s it adopted the name from Illinois State Normal University; in turn, normal schools are teacher training schools and are so-called for teaching standards, or norms. Perhaps there was just such a school in the area at one time, and Normal Road is named for it. 


ForgottenFan Allan Rothman: PS 86 and Hillcrest High School (where my wife and I taught for many years) was built on a parcel at the corner of Highland Avenue and Parsons Blvd. which used to be the site of the “Normal School” which was razed in the late 1960’s I believe, to build the two current school buildings. (Click the link for a NY Times article on the school)

Normal Road is historic in more ways than one. It runs along the path of the New York and Queens County Railway — a trolley line that connected College Point, Flushing, Pomonok, Jamaica Hills, and Jamaica. The line ran in a right of way on a relative straight line on today’s 164th Street south from Flushing Cemetery, turning southwest at what became Normal Road, and then south again on a right of way adjacent to Parsons Boulevard, east on 90th Avenue and then south on 160th. When 164th Street was built in the early 20th Century it assumed a route adjacent to the trolley line and then absorbed it, becoming a wide 4-lane traffic route.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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4 Responses to NORMAL ROAD, Jamaica Hills

  1. Peter says:

    Central Connecticut State University began life as New Britain Normal School back in the 1800’s. It became Connecticut State Teachers College in 1920, Central Connecticut State College in the early 1950’s, and finally University in the 1980’s (everyone just calls it “Central”). As recently as the late 1990’s there were still some living graduates who had attended when it was the Normal School, and who had seen three name changes in their lifetimes.

  2. George Cassidy says:

    Jamaica Training School. My father and my uncle, both graduates. Two years after high school and into the classroom.

  3. Chris R says:

    This answers why 164th St is so wide ….

  4. Andy says:

    New York and Queens County’s rail route alongside Normal Road and 164th Street is today’s Q65 bus route. The trolleys were replaced with buses in 1937 under the auspices of Queens-Nassau Transit Lines, the successor to NY and Queens County’s rail system. The buses did not use the private r.o.w. alongside Normal Road,; instead buses operated on 164th Street and Hillside Avenue south of the Grand Central Parkway, and continue to do so today.

    Queens-Nassau also operated the parallel Q24/34 route along Parsons and Kissena Boulevards, which was a bus route from its beginning in the 1930s. Queens-Nassau was renamed Queens Transit Corp. in 1957; for many years it was a corporate sibling to Streinway Transit Corp.’s bus system. The firms merged in the 1980s and were re-christened Queens Surface Corp. in 1988.

    In 2005 Queens Surface became part of the MTA Bus Company as part of the public takeover of the last privately-owned bus networks in NYC. In 2007, both routes, Q65 and Q25/34, had their common south terminal (originally 160th St. and Jamaica Avenue) extended to the LIRR/Subway/Air Train station at Sutphin Blvd and Archer Ave.

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