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.