by Kevin Walsh

As I have related in FNY over the past year (2018), four elevated stations of the Astoria Line were closed for several months and then reopened with a radical new design. The first two to get the “treatment” were the 30th and 36th Avenue stations, followed most recently by Broadway and 39th Avenue. The next two will be the more complex Astoria and Ditmars Boulevard stations, with at least the former due to receive new elevators.

Little remarked upon for these renovated stations is that their historic names have been dropped from the station signage. Many subway stations in Queens, from the IND (23rd/Ely Avenue and Woodhaven/Slattery Plaza) to the elevated Flushing Line (Rawson, Lowery, Bliss, Lincoln, Fisk) to the elevated lines out east in Ozone Park and Far Rockaway, have been allowed to retain their old station names as subnames. A few years ago, I compiled a more or less comprehensive list of these stations. When these subway/el stations were built between 1917 and 1935, Queens had just converted, or was about to convert in some neighborhoods, to its present numbered system. Subway/elevated engineers decided to retain the old names so as not to confuse longtime residents who were used to the names. Over time, the names were retained out of tradition.

Looking at this 1922 Hagstrom Astoria excerpt, we see the dark line of the Astoria elevated running up 31st Street, called 2nd Avenue at the time. I’ve circled the three streets formerly included on station signage: Beebe, also labeled Deere here; Washington Avenue; and Grand Avenue. This is the only map in which I’ve seen Beebe Avenue (now 39th Ave.) as Deere; this earlier map from 1909 dutifully calls it Beebe. (The original Beebe must have been a landholder; of course, Washington and Grand are common street names).

Here also is a shot from the last decade of the Beebe Avenue station from NYCSubways, when the Citigroup tower was the only skyscraper in LIC.

As you can see, the new station signage at 39th Avenue dispenses with the old Beebe Avenue name, inserting “Dutch Kills,” the name of the neighborhood, instead.

I imagine that future renovations of subway and el stations will further dispense with such historic names, though in the past, local politicians in Sunnyside successfully petitioned the MTA to retain the old names on the Flushing Line.

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


1 comment

Eric February 12, 2019 - 3:15 am

Thank you for your site !! I am a soon to be 55 year old native New Yorker who has begun to discover and rediscover NYC . I have been going out to Long Island City, Astoria and more and I found “Blissville” and “Laurel Hill” . I had never explored these parts of the city and your web site has given me new insights for the Summer of 2019. KUDOS !!! Greetings from Morningside Heights !! Eric


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