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.