Where can this Queens scene be, which looks to be way out in the countryside with a few scattered houses near the horizon and a single railroad track in the foreground? Fortunately the notation tells us: it’s 164th Street at 65th Avenue on April 6th, 1926. In 2019, this location looked like this.
In the late 19th and early 20th Century, a trolley line connected Flushing and Jamaica, running originally through the farms and fields of Fresh Meadows. Service on this line was ended in 1937. In short order, the tracks were pulled up, the weeds paved over, a center median added, and 164th Street became the fast and furious stretch we know it as today between Flushing Cemetery and the Grand Central Parkway.
South of Grand Central Parkway the trolley line veered off 164th and rode on its own right of way to a terminal on Jamaica Avenue at about 160th Street. In the decades since, most of this trolley route has been either eliminated or hidden pretty well, but the four-lane width of 164th Street is a legacy of the route. There was one lane of traffic on the east side of the street, with the rest taken up by trolley tracks. For more information see Stephen Meyers’ book, Lost Trolleys of Queens and Long Island.
As it happens, I have a number of photographs of the Flushing-Jamaica trolley before and after service ended — when the weather cools a bit, I may make my way down this stretch of 164th Street and show you what things looked like then and now. In some cases like the above, things are unrecognizable; but in some spots, nothing has changed a bit!
Incidentally in the 1920s, streets were already gridded out the way the appear today (for the most part) as this 1922 Hagstrom indicates. They weren’t built out completely until after World War II; and then, the Long Island (Horace Harding) Expressway arrived in the Fabulous 1950s.