Kew Gardens, Queens, New York City
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Kew Gardens is a neighborhood in central Queens bounded to the north and east by the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly Interborough Parkway), the Van Wyck Expressway, and Queens Boulevard, also to the east by 127th Street, to the south by 85th Avenue, and to the west by Babbage Street and Park Lane South. Forest Park and the neighborhood of Forest Hills lie to the west. Jamaica, Queens lies to some extreme parts of the South East and Briarwood along the south. Much of the area was acquired in 1868 by Albon P. Man, who developed the neighborhood of Richmond Hill to the south, chiefly along Jamaica Avenue, while leaving undeveloped the hilly land to the north.
History and Development
Maple Grove Cemetery on Kew Gardens Road opened in 1875. A LIRR station was built for mourners in October and trains stopped there from mid-November. The station was named Hopedale, after Hopedale Hall, a hotel at what is now Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike. In the 1890s, the executors of Man's estate laid out the Richmond Hill Golf Course on the hilly terrains south of the railroad. This remained in use until it was bisected in 1908 by the main line of the Long Island Rail Road, which had been moved six hundred feet (180 meters) to the south to eliminate a curve.
The golf course was then abandoned and a new station was built in 1909 on Lefferts Boulevard. Man's heirs, Aldrick Man and Albon Man Jr. decided to lay out a new community and called it at first Kew and then Kew Gardens after the well-known botanical gardens in England. The architects of the development favored English and neo-Tudor styles, which still predominate in many sections.
In 1910, the property was sold piecemeal by the estate and during the next few years streets were extended, land graded, and water and sewer pipes installed. The first apartment building was the Kew Bolmer at 80-45 Kew Gardens Road, erected in 1915; a clubhouse followed in 1916 and a private school in 1918. In 1920, the Kew Gardens Inn at the railroad station opened for residential guests, who paid $40 a week for a room and a bath with meals. Elegant one-family houses were built in the 1920s, as were apartment buildings such as Colonial Hall (1921) and Kew Hall (1922) that numbered more than twenty by 1936.
In July 1933, the Grand Central Parkway opened from Kew Gardens to the edge of Nassau County; this road was extended in 1935 as the Interborough Parkway to Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York. Because the parkways used part of the roadbed of Union Turnpike no houses were sacrificed.
The greatest change was wrought by the opening of the Independent subway along Queens Boulevard to Union Turnpike on December 31, 1936; four months later, the subway was extended to Jamaica, Queens. Residents could now reach Manhattan and Brooklyn twenty-four hours a day for five cents: midtown Manhattan is still a mere half hour away. The immediate effect was to stimulate the construction of larger apartment buildings like Kent Manor and high-rise buildings along Queens Boulevard, and the last vacant land disappeared.
Kew Gardens remains a densely populated residential community with its commercial center being Lefferts Boulevard between Austin Street and Metropolitan Avenue. This street is the home to many favorite spots, including Kew Gardens Cinemas (indie films and cheap matinée prices), Dani's Pizzeria, and Comic Den ( http://www.comicden.com ) The county's civic center, Queens Borough Hall, along with one of the county criminal courts stands at the northern end of the neighborhood, on Queens Boulevard, in a complex extending from Union Turnpike to Hoover Avenue.
Important schools located in Kew Gardens include Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe, Bais Yaakov of Queens and Yeshiva Shaar Hatorah.
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