QUEEN STREET, Willowbrook

by Kevin Walsh

THOUGH New York City cast off most of its streets named for British monarchs after the evacuation of British troops from New York City in 1783 — Pearl Street, for example, was once called Queen Street — there are some glaring exceptions, including Kings and Queens County, which were named for the British monarchs when NYC was chartered in 1625, King Charles II (the third Charles ascended on September 8, 2022, after the 70-year reign of his mother, Elizabeth II, ended with her death) and Charles’ wife, the Portuguese-born Queen Catherine of Braganza. For nearly 30 years, a statue depicting Catherine was supposed to be placed somewhere in Queens, but anti-colonial sentiment has seemingly tabled the project. Kings Highway in Brooklyn and Queens Boulevard took their names from the boroughs in which they circulate. In any case, the links to Charles II and Catherine are disputed.

Only one street in New York City is presently named Queen Street, and it can be found in Willowbrook, Staten Island, running approximately 15 blocks between Bradley Avenue and Manor Road. At its west end, as you can see here at Wellbrook Avenue, some of its older suburban atmosphere persists with a lack of sidewalks. Who can say if it honors a British monarch or a developer named Queen; it is surrounded by streets with vaguely British names, with Harold Street one avenue to the south.

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Peter September 10, 2022 - 12:03 am

For the first time in centuries the British have a King Charles that’s not a spaniel.

Andy September 10, 2022 - 7:53 am

In the West Village area of Lower Manhattan, just north of the Holland Tunnel, there is King Street. In the northwest Bronx you will find Kingsbridge Road, Kingsbridge Avenue, and a namesake neighborhood, all originally named for the “King’s Bridge” that once crossed Spuyten Duyvil Creek near today’s West 230th Street. The creek was filled in in the early 20th century after the Harlem River Ship Canal was cut through Marble Hill. Wikipedia article about Kingsbridge neighborhood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsbridge,_Bronx

Sunnysider September 10, 2022 - 12:16 pm

I thought the street was named for Freddie Mercury.

Edward September 10, 2022 - 7:19 pm

Queen Street shows up in the NYC 1924 aerial map as a faint dirt path. The street was wishfully mapped by Hagstrom in 1949 but not yet built, as evidenced by the 1951 aerial map which shows a somewhat longer dirt path. My guess is it was likely laid out and paved sometime in the early 1960s when Willowbrook the neighborhood grew exponentially as the SI Expressway was routed nearby to connect to the Verrazzano Bridge. Can’t say either way if it was named for a developer, but my hunch is the city picked an available name from their list, and “Queen” was not taken, so voila, Queen Street. Surprisingly, since Staten Island was definitely pro-Tory during the early part of the Revolutionary War, there are not a lot of references to British royalty, as opposed to the other boroughs with names like Fort Tryon, Kings Highway and Queens County. I suspect since 70 percent of SI’s streets were not laid out until the 1960s, there were not many streets available to name for our British forbearers (the many streets containing the ubiquitous “Richmond” being the major exceptions).

Alan Gregg Cohen September 10, 2022 - 7:38 pm

It’s probably just a typo on your part, but the references made to New York City regarding the naming Kings and Queens Counties, should be made to New York Province, as they were named prior to the Revolution, and thus well before their annexation into the City of New York.

therealguyfaux September 12, 2022 - 11:40 am

For THAT matter, New York is named for King James the Seventh [of Scotland] and Second [of England], who was the Duke of York at the time of the Dutch surrender. The Duke of York is traditionally the title of the Heir Apparent’s/reigning King’s next younger brother, Prince Andrew is the incumbent, though he’s been sort of “unpersoned” recently for his connections to Jeffrey Epstein. In theory, upon Andrew’s demise, the title could go to Henry Duke of Sussex (i.e., Prince Harry), but I won’t hold my breath.

Zalman Lev September 11, 2022 - 7:56 am

Seems the British phrase it differently, at least officially: acceded vs. ascended; accession vs. ascension (Accession, not Ascension)

Bob Singleton September 14, 2022 - 3:32 pm

British royalty was never popular in New York and there is no reference in the historic record that Kings or Queens were named after a particular monarch. Indeed, considering Queen Catherine, who was
never popular when her husband was alive, fled back to her homeland when he died would make it very very unlikely that a county, or a street, or anything would be named for her. No mention of this is in the historical record until about 1890 when a lady with an over-imaginative and under-researched book came out linking NY county names to people.

This almost got us in trouble when a group doing fundraising for an Expo in Lisbon started raising money to build a statue of Queen Catherine (who was Portuguese) across from the UN which would be
be eclipsed in height only by the Statue of Liberty.

Tal Barzilai September 18, 2022 - 9:16 pm

I know that in SoHo, there is a street known as King Street, but I don’t know if that one has to do with the British monarchy.


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