by Kevin Walsh

Here’s an interesting tableau from 1962 on the south side of Roosevelt Avenue just east of Main Street in Flushing. It was, then as now, the terminal of the IRT #7 Flushing Line. The Transit Museum twitter post says that “[a]lthough they never came to fruition, plans once existed to continue the line in two branches, to Bayside and to College Point.” The IRT turned down the Long Island Rail Road’s offer to sell them the old Whitestone Branch in 1932.

As far as expansion to Bayside, I imagine it would have meant using the Port Washington LIRR branch as a right of way, but I wonder how the city could have ran both services there, and why would commuters settle for the less-comfortable IRT? The point is moot these days.

At left a cop is using one of the once ubiquitous police call boxes, before the days of two-way radios.

It’s weird seeing Roosevelt Avenue with such wide open spaces. A series of small buildings have been torn down to make way for the large department store currently home to Macy’s.

On the right we see some Victorian-era buildings, once of which hosts Spivak’s Liquor Store. By the time I arrived in Flushing in 1993 the liquor store had long gone but amazingly, the buildings were still there as well as a painted sign for Spivak’s. Both were demolished before we got too far into the 21st Century.

MTA employee Jason Brown:

Those staircases featured in the photo were closed in the mid-to-late 90s, in order to facilitate the construction of the new ADA-compliant elevator and escalator entrance that opened in 1999, further up Roosevelt Avenue.

The staircases in the photo are still there, but have an open grate over them. They currently house HVAC equipment for the new employee facility that was built on the old mezzanine.

If you’re a twitterer, the Transit Museum has a post here.

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



John Shea January 2, 2020 - 1:22 pm

Curious why the picture was taken, it references the curb condition – accident investigation?

Mitch45 January 2, 2020 - 2:40 pm

Flushing used to have a lot of department stores, like Korvettes, Gimbels and Alexander’s. In the ’70s, my friend and I used to take the Q44 bus to Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street and walk to Shea Stadium for daytime Mets games during the summertime. Then, as now, Flushing Creek was polluted and emanated a rotten egg smell.

Andy January 2, 2020 - 3:07 pm

If date on the photo is 1962, it’s most likely not the Gertz (now Macy’s) Store, which opened in November 1951. That store is located to the rear of the photographer’s location. The site pictured, to the left of the subway stairways, is where the old S. Klein retail chain built a new store that opened in February 1967. I lived in the immediate area from 1973 until 1978 and remember that Klein’s outlet. Klein’s closed in August 1975 and a few months later the Flushing store became an Alexander’s branch, which itself is long gone. My wife and I used to push our firstborn in his baby carriage along those streets and into Gertz and Klein’s/Alexander’s.

The Klein’s/Alexander’s store site is now the New World Mall. The Woolworth’s pictured in now Old Navy.

Peter January 2, 2020 - 3:22 pm

This was two years before the Mets arrived in Flushing–they were still playing at the Polo Grounds in 1962, a dank, depressing place. I believe that one of the early New York Mets–Tommie Agee owned a bar very close-by to where this picture was taken, but he probably did not open it before 1968–before that he played for the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Can you guess what kind of beer they served there?

tom January 3, 2020 - 3:32 pm

If I remember correctly his bar was on the other side of Shea and the Grand Central Pkwy on Astoria Blvd and about 112 st. or so.

Ed Winters January 2, 2020 - 11:44 pm

I actually remember this exact scene including the poster for the Queens County Savings Bank Christmas Club. I remember waiting for the Q15 bus on that very spot weeks earlier and asking my mother what a “Christmas Club” was. That blank spot and wall to the left represents the initial work for the Sterns Department Store, which was opened in the mid-1960s. If you could have turned left and looked to the end of that wall, you would have seen the Gertz Department Store. My mother, my brothers, and I were shopping in Gertz right before Christmas in 1962. My mother had a Gertz charge plate and was not afraid to use it. Gertz had a great luncheon counter and my mother always bought us soft pretzels that were sold right outside the Gertz door (3 for a quarter!). We lived a short bus ride away on the Q15 bus in Whitestone.

Fred January 3, 2020 - 8:45 am

If memory serves; Gertz’s Department store was down the block at Main St. Across the street was that corner clock which I believe is still there. I seem to remember a cigar store on that corner along with a candy store and a Karl Ehmer’s pork store. We usually boarded the Q-14 to Whitestone across the street from that cop.

TomR January 3, 2020 - 12:31 pm

More parts of the borough are becoming a hall of mirrors…mirroring LIC…which is mirroring billyburg…which was mirroring the LES…which now mirrors SoHo…which mirrored the Village..which mirrors a skewed version of itself from thirty years ago…

redstaterefugee January 4, 2020 - 11:05 am

You’re right. The problem now is that urban America in the 21st century lacks a middle class. The future may look like Rio de Janero, Brazil. A very sad situation. I lived in this neighborhood from 1972-78 & saw many changes, mostly for the better, but almost fifty years later gentrification has caused the near extinction of middle class life in most cities. Is it any wonder that population is moving southward & westward but avoiding the west coast?

Ken Buettner January 5, 2020 - 8:00 pm

I grew up in Whitestone, and a trip to Flushing on the Q14 was special. I remember this block very well. The F.W.Woolworth store had a lunch counter downstairs. The bank across Roosevelt Avenue was a Chase Manhattan
Branch, and the clock (which was still there the last time I looked) was outside the cigar store on the corner of that building.
The cleared area behind the fence on the left (south side) of Roosevelt Avenue is waiting for the S.Klein store that came a few years after the photo was taken. Up the block, on the left outside the photo, was the Gertz
Department Store. Across the street, on the right outside the photo was the Flushing Federal Savings and Loan, which had a rear door to the next block.
For several years it was anticipated that an intermodal (the IRT, the LIRR and the bus lines) facility would be built
in downtown Flushing where that vast empty lot sits behind the fence. The rear of the property is on the Port
Washington Branch right-of-way. This would have removed the scattered starting points for the many bus lines
into one building where commuters could have seamlessly transferred between the IRT or the LIRR to continue
their travel home from work in Manhattan. While it may have been a positive for the commuters it would have
eliminated much pedestrian traffic in front of the many smaller retail stores on Main Street between Kissena
Boulevard and Main Street, which was a big negative for the stores and property owners. The intermodal facility
did not happen.

Mitch45 January 7, 2020 - 12:12 pm

I remember seeing movies at the Prospect Theater on Main Street and the RKO Keith’s on Northern Boulevard and Main Street in the early ’80s.

Steven Goodstein January 22, 2020 - 2:51 pm

I agree with Andy’s recollection. In 1962 I was just 7 years old but I was a frequent visitor to Roosevelt Avenue with my Mom and brother, so I knew the geography even then. GERTZ was situated up the street in a building it acquired around 1951. The GERTZ building had been the Flushing transit garage which explained the sloped floors on the store’s first floor; they had been the bus ramps. This is the site for what became S. Klein’s and later the Alexander’s branch. As a kid I recall peering through holes in the green wooden temporary wall watching the construction equipment work. Mom, my brother, and I arrived at this location courtesy of the Q14 GM “Old Look” transit bus with its cushioned seats and diesel exhaust!


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