Kew Gardens Hills, Queens
|Kew Gardens Hills|
|— Neighborhoods of New York City —|
|Named for||Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew|
|• Total||1.0 sq mi (3 km2)|
|• Median income||$95,847|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 917|
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.
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.
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".
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.
Community Boards 
Except for an area west of Main Street and north of the cemetery which is located within the boundaries of Queens Community Board 7, the remaining areas of Kew Gardens Hills are within Queens Community Board 8.
Civic Associations 
Several civic or homeowners associations lobby on behalf of residents of the area. These associations include the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association, the Flushing on the Hill Taxpayers Association, Cedar Grove Civic Homeowners Association, Flushing Suburban Civic Association, Georgetown Mews, and Parkway Village Historical Society.
City Council 
The entire area of Kew Gardens Hills is part of New York City Council District 24. As of 2012, the elected representative of District 24, James F. Gennaro, is serving his third term. He has represented the district since 2002.
State Assembly 
Kew Gardens Hills is split among three districts in the New York State Assembly. These districts are 22 Assemblymember Grace Meng, 25 Assemblymember Rory I. Lancman, & 27 Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz.
State Senate 
U.S. Congress 
Kew Gardens Hills is accessible thanks to the highways surrounding it and public transportation provided by New York City Transit system.
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, 73rd Avenue, and the Horace Harding Expressway.
The following local buses are operated through Kew Gardens Hills by the New York City Transit system:
- Q20 Runs along Main Street from Jamaica to College Point connecting with the Main Street and Briarwood stations.
- Q44 Runs limited stops along Main Street from Jamaica to the Bronx connecting with the Main Street and Briarwood stations.
- Q88 Runs along the Horace Harding Expressway
- Q17 Runs along the Horace Harding Expressway
- Q64 Runs along Jewel Avenue into Forest Hills connecting to the Forest Hills – 71st Avenue subway station
- Q46 Runs along Union Turnpike into Kew Gardens/Forest Hills connecting with the Union Turnpike subway station
- Q25 Runs along Kissena Boulevard from Jamaica to College Point
- Q34 Runs along Kissena Boulevard from Jamaica to Whitestone
- Q65 Runs along 164th Street
The following express buses are operated through Kew Gardens Hills by the New York City Transit system directly onto Manhattan:
- QM1,QM5,QM6,QM7,QM8 operate along Union Turnpike
- QM4 operates along Jewel Avenue
History and development 
Colonial period - 19th century 
In the northwestern part of the neighborhood was the location of the 120 acre 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. This is the near the current location of the Jamaica Train Yard. The train 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.
20th century - present day 
As a residential community, Kew Gardens Hills is a relatively young Queens community, when compared to other neighborhoods in the borough, with its earliest modern homes built in 1917 off of Union Turnpike.
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. The road ran from Jamaica Road to Fresh Meadow Road. Quarrelsome Lane is now known as 75th Avenue. Jamaica Road is now Kissena Boulevard and becomes Parsons Boulevard at the intersection of Quarrelsome Lane. The Jamaica Road was the most direct route between the villages of Flushing and Jamaica.
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. Main Street Cinemas opened in 1940. Property along 144th street, now known as Main Street, was seized by the city to complete the building 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.
Parkway Village, 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.
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 and formed the Young Israel Congregation of Kew Gardens Hills in 1951 with 15 families. That congregation now consists of 450 families. 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.
It 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) in the 1940s, such as Regency Gardens. These 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, like the Electchester Co-operative Building built to house electrical employees in 1949 on what used to be the grounds of the Pomonok Country Club. That building no longer houses electrical employees exclusively.
The Opal, a mid-rise luxury building built on the site of long-time vacant lots, opened in Kew Gardens Hills in November 2004.
The neighborhood contains an established Orthodox and Haredi Jewish population and some Israelis, 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.
The commercial areas of the neighborhood include Main Street, Union Turnpike, Parsons Boulevard and Kissena Boulevard. Fran Drescher reportedly worked at the Main Street Cinemas in Kew Gardens Hills in the early 1970s. Main Street, in particular, is home to many Jewish-themed stores and Kosher restaurants. Many of the businesses along Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills close for Shabbat Friday Evenings and Saturdays until sundown. Many businesses along Kissena Blvd. on the other hand have closed permanently.
There are several dozen houses of worship in Kew Gardens Hills, many of them 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.
This neighborhood has a large Orthodox Jewish population, including immigrants from Israel, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, France, Africa, and the Middle East. Many residents have also moved from neighborhoods such as Crown Heights in Brooklyn. The Jewish population in Kew Gardens Hills have contributed to naming of four streets in the neighborhood.
These include Haym Salomon Square (geometrically a triangle), across from the Kew Gardens Hills branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, named for the Revolutionary; Rabbi Kirshblum Triangle named for the first Rabbi of the Kew Gardens Hills Jewish Center; Freedom Square named in honor of Theodor Herzl's quest for a Jewish homeland; Rabbi Avraham Schechter Way named for a prominent resident of the community is located between 147 Street and 150 Street along 72nd Drive; and 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.
Public schools 
Kew Gardens Hills' public schools, as are the public schools in all of New York City, are operated by the New York City Department of Education.
The following elementary schools (grades PK-5) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:
- P.S. 154
- P.S. 164 (Queens Valley)
- P.S. 165 (Edith K. Bergtram)
- P.S. 219 (Paul Klapper)
- P.S. 255
- The Queens College School for Math, Science and Technology (Q499)
- P.S. 201 The Discovery School for Inquiry and Research (Q201)
- PS/MS 200 - The Pomonok School & STAR Academy (Q200)
The following middle schools (grades 6-8) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:
- I.S. 250 The Robert F. Kennedy Community Middle School (Q250)
- P.S. 164 (Queens Valley)
- P.S. 219 (Paul Klapper)
- P.S. 255
- The Queens School of Inquiry (Q252)
- The Queens College School for Math, Science and Technology (Q499)
The following high schools (grades 9-12) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:
- John Bowne High School (Q425)
- P.S. 255
- The Queens School of Inquiry (Q252)
- Robert F. Kennedy Community High School (Q670)
- Townsend Harris High School at Queens College (Q525) Townsend Harris High School serves academically gifted students.
- North Queens Community High School, which serves troubled New York City youths who wish to obtain their high school diploma has been in the area since 2007.
Colleges and universities 
Two university campuses are located in Kew Gardens Hills. Located in the northern portion of Kew Gardens Hills is Queens College, a liberal arts college that is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Queens College also serves as an important cultural institution for neighborhood residents with Colden Center for the Performing Arts and the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.
Private schools 
Other religious schools located in Kew Gardens Hills include St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Shevach High School (Main Street at 75th Road), Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun, Yeshiva of Central Queens (70th Road at 150th Street), Yeshiva Ketana (Parsons Boulevard & 78th Road) and Solomon Schechter School of Queens (76-26 Parsons Blvd.)
Public libraries 
Queens Library operates the Kew Gardens Hills Branch at 72-33 Vleigh Place. From 1954 until 1998 this library was called the Vleigh Branch. In 2012, the section of Vleigh place between 72 Drive and 72 Road, the block of the library building, was renamed Pat Dolan Way. Pat Dolan was the president of the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Association, until she was struck by a car a tragically killed in 2011. Pat Dolan was instrumental in securing funding for expansion of the library. Expansion of the Kew Gardens Hills branch began in March 2013 and a temporary library has been opened nearby at 71-34 Main Street.
Queens Library also operates the nearby Pomonok Branch at 158-21 Jewel Avenue, east of Parsons Blvd.
The Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library, on the Queens College campus, is a depository of U.S. government publications. The library is open to the general public for consultation and on-site use of these collections.
Public safety 
The majority of Kew Gardens Hills is served by the 107th Precinct of the New York City Police Department. The small portion of the area that is within Queens Community Board 7 is served by the 109th Precinct of the New York City Police Department.
Kew Gardens Hills is served by the Fire Department of the City of New York. Engine 315 - Ladder 125 is located on Union Turnpike at 159th Street.
Emergency Room 
The City of New York, Health and Hospitals Corporation operates the Queens Hospital Center (formerly known as Queens General Hospital) along 164th in the southeast corner of the area. Located on a Main Street, only a few blocks north of Kew Gardens Hills in Queensboro Hill, is New York Hospital Queens (formerly known as Booth Memorial Hospital).
Recreation and attractions 
Cultural institutions 
- 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.
Notable buildings 
- The Queens County Savings Bank building, constructed in 1954, is modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. The building also houses 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, located on 37 acres south of Union Turnpike was built in 1947 to house the staff of the new United Nations. There are 685 co-op apartments in 109 buildings. In 2012, Parkway Village was added to the state and national Registers of Historic Places.
- 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 include 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.
- Cedar Grove Cemetery. The entrance for automobiles is located at the intersection of Van Wyck Expressway and Horace Harding Expressway. A pedestrian entrance is located on Main Street near Gravett Road. Cedar Grove Cemetery was founded in 1894 as a non-sectarian cemetery. A major part of the cemetery was later to become the Mount Hebron Cemetery.
- Mount Hebron Cemetery uses the same roads as Cedar Grove cemetery but since 1909 has operated independently as a Jewish cemetery. As of 2012, over 217,000 burials have taken place at Mount Hebron.
- 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.
Parks and playgrounds 
The City of New York, Departments of Parks & Recreation maintains several playgrounds and parks in the Kew Gardens Hills area:
- Cedar Grove Playground. Located on Main Street at Gravett Road. The playground is next to JHS219.
- Electric Playground. Located along 164th Street in the Electchester development.
- Emerald Playground. Located on 164th Street off of Jewel Avenue.
- Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The southern pedestrian and bicycle entrance to the Park is located on Jewel Avenue just south of Park Drive East. The Albert Mauro Playground near Willow Lake is accessible from Park Drive East near 73rd Terrace. An overpass over the Van Wyck Expressway connects the playground to Willow Lake. However the overpass is closed to the public except during scheduled events near the lake. Willow Lake is also no longer accessible to the general public.
- Freedom Square Playground. Located on Freedom Square at the intersection of Vleigh Place and Main Street.
- Judge Moses Weinstein Playground. The playground is located on Vleigh Place, north of Union Turnpike.
- Playground 75. Located on 160th Street at 75th Road.
- Pomonok Playground. Located on Kissena Boulevard at 65th Avenue, across the street from Queens College.
- Queens Valley Playground. Located on 137th Street at 76th Road. The playground is behind PS 164.
- Vleigh Playground. Located on 70th Road east of 150th Street, behind PS 165. The playground is located along the route of what was The Vleigh Road.
Tornado of 2010 
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 subsequently closed the day following the storm.
The Crimmins Affair 
In 1965, the neighborhood gained news notoriety when five-year-old Eddie Crimmins Jr. and four-year-old Missy Crimmins vanished from their garden apartment at 150-22 72 Drive, on July 14. 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 north-bound Van Wyck Expressway. Despite physical evidence, the children's mother, Alice Crimmins, was convicted in 1971, and imprisoned, in the death of her children. She was paroled in 1977.
This real-life mystery was the subject of two true-crime books, Kenneth Gross The Alice Crimmins Case and George Carpozi, Jr.s Ordeal By Trial. Two best-selling novels, The Investigation by Dorothy Uhnak and Where Are The Children? by Mary Higgins Clark are thinly veiled fictionalizations of the case. Where Are the Children? was made into a movie of the same title that was released in 1986. A made-for-TV movie called A Question of Guilt based on the Crimmins affair was aired in 1978. John Guare wrote a Crimmins inspired play called Landscape of the Body that opened in 1977. Neal Bell authored a play called Two Small Bodies that also opened in 1977. Two Small Bodies was made into a film by Beth B. in 1994.
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.
Notable residents 
Notable residents of Kew Gardens Hills include:
- Ellen Barkin (1954-), an American actress, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills.
- Ralph Bunche (1903–1971), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1950, lived in Parkway Village
- Robert Chartoff (1933-), film producer, grew up in the neighborhood.
- Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), Lieutenant Governor for the Province of New York, maintained his summer residence at Spring Hill
- Cadwallader David Colden (1769–1834), Politician. Mayor of New York from 1818-1821 was born in Spring Hill Farm
- Fran Drescher (1957-), actress, from The Nanny. She lived at 147-49 72nd Avenue, Ambassador Gardens, and then at 150-58 71st Avenue, and worked at the Main Street movie theater as a teenager.
- Bob Dylan, musician, once lived in the neighborhood, near Queens College.
- Betty Friedan (1921–2006), American activist, feminist and writer, lived in Parkway Village in the early 1950s
- Ashrita Furman, set more than 160 official Guinness records.
- Art Garfunkel lived at 136-58 72nd Avenue.
- Fiorello La Guardia (1882–1947), former congressman and mayor of New York City maintained a summer residence in the area.
- Martin Landau (1928-), actor, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills.
- Michael Landon (1936–1991), “Little Joe” from the hit TV show Bonanza and star of Highway to Heaven grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and attended Forest Hills High School.[dubious ]
- Michael Simanowitz, New York State Assembly Member, lives in the Electchester development.
- Paul Simon (1941-), lived at 137-62 70th Road
- Moses Weinstein (1912–2007), American lawyer and politician lived in Kew Gardens Hills, and now has a playground named for him.
- Roy Wilkins (1901–1981) one of America's leading civil rights leaders, heading the NAACP. He lived at 147-15 Village Rd. in Parkway Village. A major park in south Queens now bears his name.
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