Kew Gardens Hills, Queens facts for kids

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Kew Gardens Hills
Neighborhood in Queens
A fruit and vegetable store on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.
A fruit and vegetable store on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.
Country United States
State New York
County Queens
Named for Kew Gardens, Queens; in turn named after Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Area
 • Total 1.0 sq mi (3 km2)
Population (2000)
 • Total 38,216
Ethnicity
 • White 85.1%
 • Black 1.2%
 • Hispanic 4.2%
 • Asian 8.5%
 • Other 1.%
Economics
 • Median income $95,847
ZIP code 11367
Area code(s) 718, 347, 917

Kew Gardens Hills is a middle class neighborhood in the middle of the New York City borough of Queens.

Geography

Kew Gardens Hills is situated in the southwestern corner of the area historically known as the Town of Flushing, in its 6th district.

As neighborhoods in the City of New York are not designated by the city, there are multiple means to determine the geographical boundaries of the area:

  • General borders: The western boundary of the neighborhood is considered to be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which is separated from the neighborhood by the Van Wyck Expressway. The southern playground of the park however is east of the Van Wyck Expressway, and is only accessible via an entrance along Park Drive East. Though part of the park, the playground is considered within Kew Gardens Hills. Prior to the building of the Van Wyck Expressway, the IND World's Fair Line ran along this route during the 1939 New York World's Fair.
  • Postal boundaries: Since 2003, when the United States Postal Services renamed the post office in ZIP code 11367 to the "Kew Gardens Hills Post Office", the borders of the area for ZIP Code purposes extend from the south at Union Turnpike, to the north at the Horace Harding Expressway and east to Parsons Boulevard. Prior to 2003 this Post office was called the Station C Post Office. Although the post office is named "Kew Gardens Hills", the USPS still designates the city or town for purposes of addressing as "Flushing".
    KewGardensHills EruvBoundary
    Boundary sign located over Flushing Meadows-Corona Park demarcating an Eruv boundary of Kew Gardens Hills
  • Other designations: Some areas, east of Parsons Boulevard and west of 164th Street, as well as south of Union Turnpike and north of the Grand Central Parkway are included in Kew Gardens Hills, by the NYC Department of Education, historians, the Kew Gardens Hills Eruv Committee, by residents or businesses themselves, or by real estate brokers.
    In these extended areas—with the exception of some zig-zag borders—residents north of 73rd Avenue use ZIP 11365, south of 73rd Avenue, ZIP 11366, and south of Union Turnpike, ZIPs 11432 and 11435. These areas include the Pomonok, Electchester, and Parkway Village developments, among others. Despite the ZIP codes with the first three digits as "114" being originally designated in the postal city of "Jamaica", these areas of Kew Gardens Hills are within the geographical limits of the original Town of Flushing. The present 164th Street runs along the original border between the 4th and 6th districts of the town of Flushing.

Adjacent neighborhoods include Forest Hills to the west, Hillcrest to the east, Briarwood to the south, and Queensboro Hill to the north.

History

Early settlement

In the northwestern part of the neighborhood was the location of the 120 acres (49 ha) Spring Hill Farm. The farm was part of the Francis Lewis estate during colonial times. By 1762 the farm was owned by Colonel Thomas Willet, High Sheriff of Flushing, and was sold to Cadwallader Colden, lieutenant governor for the Province of New York. In 1763 Colden built the Spring Hill House on the property. In 1783 the property was confiscated by the government because Cadwallader's son David was a loyalist to the monarchy. By 1894 the Durkee family owned the property and sold it to the Cedar Grove Cemetery Corporation. The Spring Hill House became the office of the Cedar Grove Cemetery, until the house was later destroyed by a fire. Cadwallader Colden and Thomas Willet are among those who are buried on the property on what is now the grounds of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.

In the 19th century the area of Kew Gardens Hills was known as Head of the Fly, for its location at the headwaters of the Flushing Creek (or Flushing River). Fly or vly, being the Dutch word for swamp. One of the oldest roads through the area was called the Vleigh Road, and still exists today as Vleigh Place.

Timothy Jackson operated a horse boarding stable near where the intersection of Park Drive East and Union Turnpike, or the Kew Gardens Interchange is today. On what is now the Jamaica subway yard was previously a horse race course, built by Timothy Jackson, and was known as Whitepot Race & Track. Although the train yard is not in Jamaica, it is named Jamaica because the yard feeds the subway lines which begin (or end) in Jamaica. This area was an extension of Timothy Jackson's Willow Glen Farm for which the farmhouse was located south of Union Turnpike in the neighborhood of Jamaica that is now called Briarwood. In the 1750s, William Furman was the owner of the farm he named Willow Glen. Today Willow Lake, at the southern end of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, retains the Willow name.

The municipal government of the Town of Flushing, which dated back to colonial times, along with other municipal township governments in Queens County, was incorporated into the Borough of Queens on January 1, 1898. Later, the area, was named after Kew Gardens, which in 1909 was renamed after Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London, England in the United Kingdom.

The area's earliest modern homes were built in 1917 off of Union Turnpike, but in the early 20th century, the area was known as Queens Valley and consisted mostly of farmland. By the 1920s many of the farms were sold to golf clubs or country clubs. The golf courses that made up the area include the Spring Hill Golf Course, Queens Valley Golf Course, Pomonok Country Club, and Arrowbrook Country Club. In 1939, the Arrowbrook Country Club was the home of the "Summer City Hall" of Mayor La Guardia.

One road that ran through the area was called Quarrelsome Lane., which ran from Jamaica Road to Fresh Meadow Road; the road is now known as 75th Avenue. Jamaica Road, the most direct route between the villages of Flushing and Jamaica, is now Kissena Boulevard and becomes Parsons Boulevard at the intersection of Quarrelsome Lane.

Later years

Independencehallkgh
Queens County Savings Bank on Main Street

Growth to Kew Gardens Hills came when Kew Gardens, Queens, to the south, gained a subway line at Queens Boulevard in 1936 and Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, directly to the northwest of the neighborhood, hosted the 1939 New York World's Fair. Early residents were mostly German, Irish and Italian. Many were relocating from Brooklyn and Manhattan. The area was hilly and Kew Gardens was known as a prestigious Queens neighborhood and so developers changed its name from Queens Valley to Kew Gardens Hills.

The first Queen of Peace mass took place in 1939. Property along 144th Street, now part of Main Street, was seized by the city to complete the construction of Main Street from northern Flushing. Main Street was paved and bus routes began to serve the area in 1941. The Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills was established in 1941. The Queens County Savings Bank opened its branch in 1949 and local school, P.S. 164, also known as the Queens Valley School, also opened its doors that year.

Main Street Cinemas—designed by architect Joseph Unger, who also designed the Trylon Theatre—opened in 1940 and operated by Interboro Circuit Inc. The 600 seat single screen theater was built at a cost of $75,000, and was dubbed one of the city's finest. The theater has since been subdivided into a six screen cineplex. Of the 39 theaters once operated by Interbor, Main Street Cinemas is the only theatre still in use today.

On July 14, 1965, the neighborhood became infamous when five-year-old Eddie Crimmins Jr. and four-year-old Missy Crimmins vanished from their garden apartment at 150–22 72nd Drive. Missy's body was found the same day in a vacant lot on 71st Avenue at 162nd Street (the area where the 107th Precinct is located today.) Eddie's body was found five days later near 68th Drive and the entrance to the northbound Van Wyck Expressway. The children's mother, Alice Crimmins, was convicted in 1971, and imprisoned, in the death of her children. She was paroled in 1977.

On September 16, 2010, an EF1 tornado touched down in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, causing widespread damage to cars and homes in the Kew Gardens Hills area. John Bowne High School—located along Main Street at the edge of the CUNY Queens College campus, directly across from Mt. Hebron Cemetery—was the only New York City public school building to sustain physical damage related to the storm and was closed on the day after the storm.

Demographics

Races

The neighborhood contains an established Orthodox and Haredi Jewish population and some Israelis, Bukharan Jews as well as smaller groups of Latinos, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Afghanis and African Americans. Kew Gardens Hills is home to the largest concentration of Afghanis in the New York metropolitan area.

Religions

Haymsolomonkewgardenshills
Haym Solomon Square in Kew Gardens Hills.
Queenofpeacekewgardenshills
Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Kew Gardens Hills.

There are several dozen houses of worship in Kew Gardens Hills, many of them Jewish.

Established in 1941, the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills is the only traditional Conservative synagogue located in the heart of Kew Gardens Hills. By the 1950s, the Orthodox Jewish community began to take root. The first orthodox synagogue was formed in 1950 on Parsons Blvd and 78th road when the Jewish Center of Torath Emeth was formed with Rabbi Joel Laks as the spiritual leader. Initial congregants included the future rabbi of Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, and families of other yet-to-be-built synagogues in the neighborhood. The following year, the Young Israel Congregation of Kew Gardens Hills was founded in 1951 with 15 families. That congregation now consists of 450 families. Congregation Machzikei Hadas formed by Rabbi Yosef Gelernter on 73rd Avenue, and is home to the first mikveh in Kew Gardens Hills. At Vleigh Place and Main Street, the City of New York developed and constructed a small park in 1957–58. In March 1960, the City Council named it Freedom Square to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, founder of present-day Zionism. As the neighborhood has a large Orthodox Jewish population, many residents have also moved from traditionally Jewish neighborhoods such as Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

Other houses of congregation are not Jewish. The Roman Catholic Church Queen of Peace is located on Main Street at 77th Road. St. Nicholas of Tolentine is located on Parsons Boulevard behind east of Parkway Village. The Lutheran Church of the Ascension is located on Main Street just south of Union Turnpike. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, located on 65th Avenue near Parsons Boulevard, is also the facility used by the Korean Grace Community Church.

A sizable Muslim and Sikh population exists in areas of Kew Gardens Hills as well, most notably on the northern side with several stores catering to that population.

Transportation

Main north-south arteries through and around the perimeter of the neighborhood are Main Street, Kissena Boulevard, 164th Street, and Parsons Boulevard. East-west arteries are Jewel Avenue, Union Turnpike, and the Horace Harding Expressway. Highways to and around the neighborhood include the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, and the Jackie Robinson Parkway (Interboro Parkway), which all intersect at the Kew Gardens Interchange.

Local New York City Bus routes are the Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q44 SBS, Q46, Q64, Q88, and the Q74 bus used to serve the neighborhood nearly exclusively until 2010. MTA Bus routes are the Q25, Q34, Q65. All express buses to Manhattan are operated under MTA Bus Company; they are the QM1, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8. However, no New York City Subway stations serve the neighborhood directly; instead, they are accessible via local buses.

Co-named streets

Because of the large Jewish population in Kew Gardens Hills, six streets in the neighborhood were named or co-named after notable Jewish persons:

  • Freedom Square named in honor of Theodor Herzl's quest for a Jewish homeland
  • Rabbi Kirshblum Triangle, named for the first Rabbi of the Kew Gardens Hills Jewish Center
  • Rabbi Joel Laks Way on 78th Road between Parsons Boulevard and 160 Street, named for the founder of the first orthodox synagogue in the area
  • Rabbi Avraham Schechter Way, named for a prominent resident of the community is located between 147th Street and 150th Street along 72nd Drive
  • Haym Salomon Square (geometrically a triangle), across from the Kew Gardens Hills branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, named for the Revolutionary
  • Abe Wolfson Triangle, named for an environmental activist and one of the founders of the Queens Historical Society is located along Kissena Boulevard near 75th Avenue.

Other streets named or co-named for non-Jewish persons include:

  • Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Avenue is the co-name for Jewel Avenue, after the labor leader whose union built Electchester.
  • Pat Dolan Way, a block of Vleigh Place facing the Kew Gardens Hills Library. It is named after Pat Dolan, a longtime president of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association who was killed in 2011 in a car accident.
  • Pat Dolan Trail: A park trail cut into the marsh in Park Drive East park in Flushing Meadow Park which extends to Willow Lake.

Structures

Gardenaptkewgardenshills
One of many Kew Gardens Hills garden apartments
Outsidepark apt150-20
The intersection of 71st Avenue and 150th Street in eastern Kew Gardens Hills

Kew Gardens Hills is a mixed neighborhood of single-family homes – detached or in rows – as well as three to six-story garden apartment buildings mostly built during the years immediately following World War II, such as Regency Gardens. These apartments are characterized by their lawns and internal pathways that give the complexes a small-neighborhood feel. There are several homes in Kew Gardens Hills that predate Main Street, whose property was subject to eminent domain in the 1930s to widen 144th Street into the Main Street extension from northern Flushing. A few public housing projects in one part of the neighborhood were also built. Other buildings in that area were built to house employees of certain unions, including the Electchester Co-operative Building, built for electrical employees in 1949 on what used to be the grounds of the Pomonok Country Club, which no longer houses electrical employees exclusively.

Buildings

  • The Godwin-Ternbach Museum is located on the grounds of Queens College. Founded in 1981 by art historian Frances Godwin and noted art restorer Joseph Ternbach, the Museum's mission has grown with the changing times from a teaching museum for the benefit of art students to a public museum that reaches out beyond the college campus.
  • Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts is a concert hall located on the campus of Queens College, and provides an accessible and affordable facility to enrich the cultural environment of the region with classical and pop performances for general audiences.
  • The Queens County Savings Bank building, constructed in 1954, is modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. The building also has a full-size replica of the Liberty Bell. In 2005, the building was placed on the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior's National Register of Historic Places.
  • Parkway Village, designed by Leonard Schultze and Associates, between Parsons Boulevard, Union Turnpike, and Grand Central Parkway, was built to house United Nations employees in the late 1940s. Some owners are seeking landmark historic status for the co-op. Parkway Village was developed as a rental community with 685 units on 37 acres (150,000 m2) of rolling parkland in 1947. Today the buildings are in need of maintenance and upgrading, and the vegetation needs some management.
  • The Opal, a mid-rise luxury building built on the site of long-time vacant lots, opened in Kew Gardens Hills in November 2004; along with Lander College, it was built on marshland that is the source for Kissena Creek.
  • Six Spanish-style buildings built about 1908 for the New York Parental School are still in use on the Queens College campus today. These buildings are the G Building, originally the infirmary for the NY Parental School; Colwin Hall; Delaney Hall; Frese Hall; the J Building, and Jefferson Hall, the administration building. The architecture of Jefferson Hall has earned it the description of turn of the [20th] century Central American capitol.
  • Adereth Eliyahu Congregation, built in 1983 and bisecting 147th Street, was awarded the Excellence in Design and Civic Value by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Cemeteries

  • The Willett Family Burial Ground is located just inside the main gate to Mount Hebron Cemetery. Here, members of the Willet and Colden families, former owners of the property, are said to have been laid to rest. The stone of Elizabeth Willet, dated 19 OCT 1773 is still standing. Another stone dated 1722 is partially covered but visible.
  • Colored Cemetery, also known as the Troytown Cemetery, was a private cemetery in the estate of Troy Rantus, and was located on Cravett Place, which today is 149th Street between Melbourne Avenue and Gravett Road. Wilson Rantus, writer, educator, and editor known as "The Anglo African," was an abolitionist instrumental in establishing a weekly black newspaper and a school for black children in Jamaica was buried in this cemetery. This private family cemetery was established in 1853, but the land was sold by Troy's descendants in 1915. In 1952, the bodies were removed to Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn. An 1861 gravestone attributed to abolitionist Wilson Rantus was found in a backyard on the site of the cemetery in June 2014.

Parks and playgrounds

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation maintains several playgrounds and parks in the Kew Gardens Hills area:

In popular culture

  • The storefront of Stuart Electronics on Parsons Boulevard was featured in Season 14 Episode 14 of Law & Order. The real life owner of the store is Peter Guggenheim, father of Law & Order writer Mark Guggenheim.
  • Scenes from the 2000 movie Boiler Room were shot in Kew Gardens Hills. Kew Gardens Hills was referenced in the movie as well.
  • Kew Gardens Hills is home to Max and Mina's Ice Cream, named number 1 of the top 10 unique Ice Cream Parlors in America in Everybody Loves Ice Cream, the Whole Scoop on America's favorite treat by Shannos Jackson Arnold, Emmis Books, July 2004. Some Manhattan restaurants offer Max & Mina's Ice Cream on their dessert menus. The Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary Edition featured the question "What kosher product is served in flavors like lox, corn on the cob, and horseradish, at Max & Mina's in Flushing, New York?"
  • The 1939 PGA Championship was played at the Pomonok Country Club, now the site of the Pomonok and Electchester housing in the northern section of Kew Gardens Hills. Henry Picard won the championship that year.
  • Slackwire Sam Johnson's quarter-final act of Season 8 on America's Got Talent was filmed at Queens College during the summer of 2013.
  • Scenes from Still Alice were filmed at Campbell Dome in Queens College.
  • Scenes from HBO's The Leftovers were filmed at Queens Hall.
  • Scenes from Saturday Night Live's skit Bern Your Enthusiasm, starring Larry David as Democrat Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, were filmed in front of Jefferson Hall and the Queens College Student Union buildings. The episode aired on NBC on 6 February 2015.

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