STANDARD LANE, Long Island City

by Kevin Walsh

QUITE possibly the shortest named street in Queens can be found issuing from Northern Boulevard at 37th Avenue, dead ending at the Sunnyside rail yards after just a few feet. Yet, it can be considered a fairly busy road since not one but two parking garages issue traffic onto it. But what could Standard Lane be named for? A long lost newspaper perhaps? (The intersection of 4th, Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues was called Times Plaza for many years, named for a long lost newspaper in the downtown Brooklyn area). No, it’s named for one of my former workplaces.

Though some of my gigs haven’t ended the way I would’ve liked, I’m pretty proud of where I’ve been over the years. My longest term was two stints totaling 12 years at Publishers Clearing House, the direct mail business that runs the sweepstakes. I have also put in 4 years at the World’s Biggest Store, Macy’s; the city’s largest typographic business, Photo-Lettering, when type houses were a thing; Tiffany & Co.; and Pearson, one of the country’s biggest publishers of schoolbooks. Right now I am doing some work for Marquis Who’s Who, publishers of the famed registers.

This huge building stretching along 37-18 Northern Boulevard in Long Island City is home to Standard Motor Products. SMP was founded in 1919 by Elias Fife and Ralph Van Allen, producing electric parts for the auto industry, then poised to become a major player in the 20th Century. The firm moved to Queens as early as 1921 and bought its present-day behemoth in 1936. SMP has sold the building since, but remains a tenant. 

I filled in here for just two weeks after my first layoff from Publishers Clearing House in November 1999, but I’m happy to have been involved with such a longstanding institution. Many of the interiors had seemingly been left unchanged in decades, and I especially liked the bathrooms. Why? I could look out the windows onto the Sunnyside RR yards, which are just behind the building. The city and real estate developers consider the yards a waste of real estate, and are looking to deck them over and build condo towers on them. 

For the last decade, 37-18 Northern Boulevard has had an added function: commercial farming at the Brooklyn Grange.

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John September 28, 2021 - 10:54 pm

Cool beans!

therealguyfaux September 29, 2021 - 2:20 pm

One might have guessed that it was “Standard Lane” because, when they were renaming the Queens streets in the early 20th C. it might have seemed to someone tasked with doing so that here was this oddball practically-an-alley, and because it ran north-south, it was a place or a lane, so his superior told him, “Oh, just give it a standard ‘lane’ designation.” whereupon, the poor schnook either took the boss literally, or else, he was being a wisenheimer.

Coach giannone September 30, 2021 - 10:53 pm

This is stupid . I used to go with hookers over on that street.

Nikki October 9, 2021 - 3:01 pm

Welp, the nature of the whole neighborhood has changed. There
are high prices condos now, instead of low-priced whores. I guess stupid is suggestive, because as usual, I learned something new visiting FNY


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