JAMAICA AND ROCKAWAY SIGN, WOODSIDE

by Kevin Walsh

March 2019 marks Forgotten New York’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve re-scanned about 150 key images from the early days of FNY from 35MM prints. In the early days, when people including me were accessing FNY with dial-up modems, I had to save photos really small — in some cases, just 4″ across. I couldn’t find all those early photos — I think I foolishly discarded some along the way — but all month, and into April, I’ll be picking out some and showing the newly scanned versions.

There’s a lot going on in this picture from 1999 in the mezzanine of the IND Queens Boulevard 65th Street station that serves to date it. First and foremost is the “Jamaica and Rockaway” sign. The Queens Boulevard line was built for the most part between 1933 and 1937, and at the time, the furthest station east that was served by local trains was at 169th Street and Hillside Avenue in northern Jamaica. The Queens Boulevard would be extended to 179th Street in 1950, and then to Parsons-Archer Avenue in December 1988.

But the Rockaways were just a dream for IND planners in the early 1930s. The IND we ride today in four boroughs was only the “first system” on the planning boards. The IND had an expansive “second system” in mind that would have more than doubled Independent System trackage. One of them would have been a line running through Glendale and then along existing LIRR tracks (a clearance would have had to be negotiated) then turning south along today’s abandoned LIRR Rockaway Branch, crossing Jamaica Bay.

What does this have to do with the Queens Boulevard line? At Roosevelt Avenue a separate level was built — which still exists today and is used as MTA crew quarters — where a spur running south into Maspeth and Glendale would have been built. That line would have offered a transfer to that putative Rockaway branch.

A list of the IND second system has subway buffs salivating about the missed opportunity. What cancelled the second system? The Depression struck first, in 1929, just as the new system was being planned. In 1940, subway unification happened with all of New York’s subways falling under the same management, and the IND could no longer act “independently.” The USA’s entry into World War II in December 1941 meant that all possible materiel would go toward the war effort.

What else dates the scene? The G has long since been cut back to Court Square and no longer rumbles down Queens Boulevard, and conservative talker Rush Limbaugh has long been evicted from his perch at WABC radio.

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

4/19/19

5 comments

redstaterefugee April 20, 2019 - 9:57 am

Rush Limbaugh wasn’t evicted” from WABC. WABC wasn’t part of iheratradio; many syndicators, including Limbaugh’s, moved their programming to iheartradio affiliates in 2013.In NYC this means WOR710. I’m sure WABC management regrets the loss of Mark Simone, Rush Limbaugh, & Sean Hannity, as well as most of their audience to WOR & iheartradio audiostreaming.

Reply
Andy April 20, 2019 - 4:47 pm

Another possible scheme to connect the Queens Boulevard IND to the Rockaways was announced in December 1933, in the waning days of Mayor John P. O’Brien’s single year term (January 1 – December 31. 1933). O’Brien was elected in November 1932 to serve out the final year of Jimmy Walker’s second mayoral term, because Walker resigned under fire in September 1932. O’Brien, a Democrat, ran for a full four-year term in November 1933 but lost to Fiorello LaGuardia, the Republican-Fusion candidate.

The plan was to build short connection just east (operationally north) of the IND Queens Boulevard Line’s 63rd Drive Station in Rego Park, to connect the then-under construction subway tunnel with the LIRR Rockaway Beach Line where it intersected the LIRR Main Line, a few blocks south. The city’s Board of Estimate approved this scheme on December 29, 1933, two days before LaGuardia took over City Hall. For many reasons it never became reality, although there are provisions for a connection built into the existing subway tunnel walls where the new route would have been located.
Finally in 1952-56, the City purchased the LIRR Rockaway Beach Line and appended it to the IND Fulton Street (A train) Line, with service beginning in June 1956. The old LIRR route north of Liberty Avenue soldiered on briefly until 1962, when the LIRR abandoned it. It’s been unused ever since, and has been the subject of endless debates . Some people favor converting it into a walking and bicycling trail called Queensway; others would like to see it used for a subway route between the existing Rockaway Line and Queens Boulevard, as intentioned in 1933.

Below are three links. The first two are The New York Times articles from December 1933 about the proposal; the second notes that the fare for this service would be 15 cents versus the nickel charged for everywhere else. The third link is to a NY Daily News article from 2014, which I wrote as a guest contributor and suggested repurposing the old LIRR line for both transit and recreational use.

https://search.proquest.com/hnpnewyorktimes/docview/100794313/fulltextPDF/789383B8374D469DPQ/1?accountid=35407

https://search.proquest.com/hnpnewyorktimes/docview/100766539/fulltextPDF/789383B8374D469DPQ/3?accountid=35407

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/andrew-sparberg-new-queens-subway-greenway-article-1.1995174

Reply
Jeff B. April 21, 2019 - 10:19 pm

Hi –
When on click on the 1st 2 links above, the page you reach asks for a Barcode or to log into ProQuest. There is no way to create an account that I can see.

Reply
Andy April 23, 2019 - 3:14 pm

Sorry to hear you had difficulty linking to the articles. ProQuest is often available through your own public library card. If it helps, I can tell you that the first article is from The NY Times edition of December 23, 1933; second article date is December 31, 1933.

Reply
Mitch45 April 22, 2019 - 10:26 am

Three things killed the IND Second System.
1) The Depression
2) World War II
3) Robert Moses and his insistence on grabbing all available construction money for highways and bridges.

Reply

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