by Kevin Walsh

CLOSING out 2022 (how long can FNY go on?) 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. In this photo, the rails have been broken up and will soon be carted off.

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.

In the 1950s, Horace Harding Boulevard was converted into the west end of the Long Island Expressway, with its service roads retaining the Horace Harding name, after an obscure commissioner and friend of traffic czar Robert Moses.

Photo: Al Ponte’s Time Machine

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Andy December 31, 2022 - 3:56 pm

The exact photo location is difficult to determine, but it appears to be near the intersection of 164th Street and Jewel Avenue. The bus is a Queens Transit vehicle of the type that replaced the trolleys in 1937, on today’s very busy Q65 route that connects Jamaica, Flushing, and College Point. Queens Transit and its affiliated firm Steinway Transit (locally called “The Orange Bus”) controlled about ten routes between 164th Street (on the east) and the East River (on the west) that were mostly inherited from two trolley companies – New York and Queens County Railway and Steinway Railway. Some routes, notably the busy north-south Q25-34 that parallels the Q65 along Kissena and Parsons Boulevards, and the Q65A Jewel Avenue (now Q64) were always buses.

The distance from subways in Flushing and Jamaica, and also from LIRR lines, kept this general area, roughly between today’s Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway and east of Main Street, very undeveloped until after World War II. After that, new postwar housing, both private homes and garden apartments, filled the vacant lots very quickly.

The two companies also developed a network of express routes to/from Manhattan after 1968, giving denizens of this area a one seat ride without the inconvenience of subway transfers. The combined Queens-Steinway Transit route network, most recently known as Queens Surface Corp., became MTA property in 2005.

Anonymous January 2, 2023 - 7:57 pm

It’s looking south from Horace Harding. The building on the right is still there just before you reach 65th.

Howard Kotarski December 31, 2022 - 6:29 pm

thank you,something did not know, I lived off of 196 place and the L I E drove 164 st for years and never knew, thank,you

Michael Lagana January 1, 2023 - 12:32 am

Happy New Year

Allan Berlin January 1, 2023 - 9:52 am

How long can FNY go on? While one want to say forever, in truth it will be as long as you – Kevin – find things to write about.

redstaterefugee January 1, 2023 - 11:17 am

“How long can FNY go on?” you ask. T. S. Eliot concluded “The Hollow Men” with these lines:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Full text:

2023: The new year, just like the old year but probably even worse. “Sic transit gloria mundi”

Kevin Walsh January 1, 2023 - 11:10 pm

Sick transit, Gloria!

redstaterefugee January 2, 2023 - 11:23 am

Gloria has departed for Florida because she is sick of public transit like your MTA.

Ron S January 1, 2023 - 1:21 pm

It’s interesting that Brooklyn’s streetcar system was so highly developed and intricate while Queens’ system was widely scattered and the routes (by today’s map) seem haphazard.

Andy January 2, 2023 - 10:26 am

There are many reasons why the Brooklyn and Queens trolley (and later bus) route networks are so dissimilar, as the poster correctly noted. A single firm, the BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Company, originally the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company), controlled all trolley and bus routes, as well as the vast majority of the borough’s subway and elevated mileage. Both networks were focused on Downtown Brooklyn, with important secondary nodes at Coney Island and East New York.

Queens, by contrast, was prior to 1898, much larger, as it included today’s Nassau County. Even today, it is larger in area than Brooklyn (110 square miles versus 71). Its western towns (Flushing, Jamaica, Newtown), plus Long Island City and the Rockaways, became part of the 1898 New York City consolidation. There was no one central node in Queens, unlike Downtown Brooklyn. Important commercial hubs developed in Jamaica, Long Island City, and Flushing, due to Long Island Rail Road and trolley routes that focused on those areas. There were large areas in between the three hubs that were sparsely settled, as exemplified by the photo of 164th Street. Thus, each Queens commercial hub spawned a multitude of relatively small surface transit operators, in contrast to Brooklyn’s omnipresent BMT.

Jamaica, for example, hosted routes of New York and Queens County Railway, (the bus in the photo is Queens Transit, the successor to NY&QC), Jamaica Central Railway (later Jamaica Buses), and BMT trolleys originating in Brooklyn. Additionally, there was Green Bus and North Shore Bus, networks that were always bus because they originated after the 1920s. Finally, by 1913 Jamaica emerged as the Long Island Rail Road’s principal hub. When the BMT elevated reached Jamaica in 1918, a large shopping network developed along its namesake avenue below the last mile of the elevated, creating a natural market for local transit routes.

Long Island City and Flushing route networks were similar, if not as large.

Fred P January 2, 2023 - 7:53 pm

Everything except the large house on the left is still standing today. The houses in the left background are on 65th Ave.


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