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Long Island Stations - NY&Q Waiting Room

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Long Island Stations & Structures

by Paul S. Luchter

Photo by Paul S. Luchter

 

  New York and Queens County Railway Waiting Room

This is known as the New York and Queens County Railway Waiting Room.  This twin towered structure was the at the corner of the large NY&Q Co trolley barns. It is on the SE corner of Woodside Avenue and Northern Boulevard (to the right of photo) in Queens, NY.

When this was built in 1896, Woodside Avenue was the border of Long Island City and the New York and Queens County Ry. was at the height of its glory, having just bought the pioneering Steinway System, and soon planning to expand far into what would become Nassau County. Trolleys were serviced at this facility going to Flushing, College Point, Maspeth, Jamaica, and Long Island City.

Northern Boulevard opened in 1862 as the Hunterís Point, Newtown and Flushing Turnpike Road Co.; as a turnpike it lasted until 1871. Long Island City was formed in 1870, as 6 western hamlets of the village of Newtown seceded to form the city: Hunterís Point, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Astoria, Bowery Bay and Steinway (Blissville is in Dutch Kills area). The sheet-music publisher, Benjamin W. Hitchcock, developed Woodside as a residential area in 1867.

The last trolleys that passed this point were in 1939, it was a truck/express building afterwards. In 1986, it was demolished for a shopping center, but a human ring protected this corner structure from destruction and it became a Pizza Hut and gave the name to the shopping area.

The streetcars of the area (as horsecars) began as parts of two systems, that of Pat Gleason (the first mayor of LIC), and of William Steinway, the piano manufacturer. In 1870 Steinway moved his piano company to the area; in 1881 he built his own settlement for workers near Bowery Bay (unlike Pullman, this was not a closed area, it was open to anyone who wanted to live there and his workers could choose to live elsewhere.)

Steinway was an innovator, not only were his pianos considered possibly the best in the world, but he built his own power plant (today still there and operating as the Con Ed Ravenswood plant in north Astoria). Interestingly, this power plant eventually eliminated most of the old mansions in Ravenswood. Ravenswood was the first "Gold Coast" of Long Island, begun by the Roach brothers in 1848 - to the west today there are still magnificent views- also for railfans, the magnificent Hells Gate Bridge bisects this park high above.

Steinway had an agreement with Daimler-Benz Motor Co. to build diesel horseless carriages in Long Island City. It is one of the earliest auto factories in the US (circa 1896 - it survived until around World War One), and among other things basically invented the modern transit system, color coding and designating his various lines for easy identification by waiting riders. (White, for instance, was the color for Flushing Ave. traction cars, yellow for the second line to Flushing, etc.)

Steinwayís first lines included the Astoria and Hunterís Point RR and the Steinway Avenue and Bowery Bay RR. Eventually he bought most of Gleasonís lines and in 1892 consolidated them together as the Steinway System, electrifying in 1893. The Broadway and Bowery Bay RR (blt. 1883) was earlier bought by the Steinway and Hunterís Point.

So far seeing was he that he planned the first tunnel into Manhattan in 1887. It wasnít actually operated until 1907, but it was built before even the H&M tubes. Since 1915 it has carried subway cars (today the #7 Flushing line) from Queens to 42nd Street.

The Broadway (Queens) line was extended down Northern Boulevard in 1893.

The Newtown Railway Company was the name given in 1895 to the line built from Woodside to Flushing Bridge.

The Steinway Railway Company was sold to the NY and Queens County Railway Company in 1896. This company, controlled by the Drexel interests in Philadelphia, had 35 miles of routes in 1895, 41 by 1906. IN 1897, THE NY&Q Co. organized the NY and North Shore Traction Company (29 miles), which would extend its influence further eastward. In 1897, the NY&NS bought the Long Island Electric (27 ,miles) the LIE had spurned offers from the BRT), this further extended the Drexel Long Island empire into Far Rockaway and eastern Queens County.

In 1901 the NY and North Shore was renamed the Queens Railway Co, the connection to this line at Flushing was not completed until 1910. In 1903, the IRT bought the NY & Q Co. Railway. From 1909 to 1919, the NY&Q County ran on the inner tracks of the Queensboro Bridge, sharing the underground station in Manhattan (one kiosk still survives above the current underground parking lot) with the Manhattan and Queens Traction Company (the line that got the franchise down Queens Boulevard to Jamaica-"motorized" 1937).

The Steinway lines became independent again in 1922Öthe IRT gave up the NY&Q Co Ry.

The NY&Q Co abandoned the service to Corona 1925, and to Jamaica, College Point and down Northern Boulevard in 1937, and was dissolved in 1939. They didnít motorize though they tried for the franchises - Robert Moses and Mayor LaGuardia coveted the NY&Q Co. routes, putting them in financial difficulties by ripping up their tracks and wires for road building projects (The entire downtown corner in Maspeth that the traction line used was removed and replaced with the Long Island Expressway) and not paying to put them back. They especially wanted the NY&Q Co line between Flushing and Jamaica (today's Van Wyck Expressway). So they probably helped reject the companyís "motorization" plans as well. The Steinway lines ended up terminating at the old LIRR 34th Street ferry, even after the ferry ceased this was the end of line, so it was abandoned 1935

The last line of these that survived was a 1.64 mile route that went over the 59th Street Bridge on the remaining outside tracks. This
was because there was no other way but by boat to reach Welfare Island (today's Roosevelt Island). There were elevators at the eastern pier on that island, the "station" building was on the north side of the pier, today a tower supporting the Roosevelt Island Tram is near that site.

The line was run by a subsidiary of the Steinway Omnibus Company and was known as the Queensboro Railway Company. A road bridge was finally built from Queens to the island in the East River, and thus this became the last trolley line to run in NYC, ending in 1957. The last cars were not PCCs, but the narrow traction cars built for the Manhattan Bridge 3Ę Line(1912-1929).

The New York and Queens County Railway Company (1895-1939)

 

 

This page was last updated Tuesday, February 15, 2000

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