Kew Gardens (LIRR station)

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Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens LIRR Station & Lefferts Boulevard Bridge.jpg
Kew Gardens Station and Lefferts Boulevard Bridge
Location Austin Street & Lefferts Boulevard
Kew Gardens, New York
Coordinates 40°42′35″N 73°49′50″W / 40.7096°N 73.83066°W / 40.7096; -73.83066Coordinates: 40°42′35″N 73°49′50″W / 40.7096°N 73.83066°W / 40.7096; -73.83066
Owned by Long Island Rail Road
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 4
Connections Local Transit MTA Bus: Q10, Q37
Parking Yes
Other information
Fare zone 1
Opened 1879, 1883
Closed 1882, 1909
Rebuilt September 8, 1910
Electrified June 23, 1910
750 V (DC) third rail
Previous names Maple Grove (1879-1910)
Kew (1910-1912)
Passengers (2006) 1,631[1]
Preceding station   MTA NYC logo.svg LIRR   Following station
toward Penn Station
Main Line
(City Terminal Zone)
toward Long Island
Current and former locations
Hopedale station Main Line Westbridge station

Kew Gardens is a station on the Main Line of the Long Island Rail Road in Kew Gardens, Queens. The station is located at Austin Street and Lefferts Boulevard. One of Kew Garden station's unique features is the 119th Street (Lefferts Boulevard) Bridge which has one story commercial buildings on both sides for local businesses.


The former Maple Grove Station, 18 years before the LIRR realignment project
From 82nd Avenue
All the shops to the right of the pizzeria are on the Lefferts Boulevard bridge over the station

Kew Gardens station originally opened in May 1879, however a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article points out that the station was not finished as of May, and others claim it was opened on December 6, 1879[2] as Maple Grove, a flag stop solely to give access to Maple Grove Cemetery. Using today's landmarks (which did not exist then), the Station was located in back of the Mowbray and Kew Gardens Plaza Apartments.[3] A letter to THE LONG ISLAND FORUM, Vol 4 (Dec. 1941) says, "In 1897, I was a locomotive fireman on the L.I.R.R. and at that time the main line of the road between Jamaica and Long Island City was a single track road ... located about 150 or 200 ft. to the east of the present tracks which pass through ... Kew Gardens. A flag station known as Maple Grove was the only station between Jamaica and [Elmhurst]. This track was mostly used by freight trains except in commuting hours when some passenger trains ran over it." [John Tooker, Babylon, LI.][4] The station was closed in 1882, reopened in 1883, and removed in 1909 as part of the Maple Grove track realignment project.

Maple Grove Cut-Off[edit]

The Maple Grove relocation was a project to reduce the curvature of the Main Line track in Kew Gardens; the Long Island Rail Road on the eve of the 1910 opening of the Pennsylvania Railroad's East River Tunnels, wanted a straight, low grade, high speed, four-track road between New York and Jamaica, and a realignment of the roadbed at Maple Grove would both straighten the road and reduce the distance by about a half mile. The new cut-off began at the present 84th Drive on the east and continued to about the present Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills. The old line ran straight from Winfield to within a few feet of Queens Boulevard at Lefferts Avenue (now Boulevard) and then curved sharply southeast and around the southern edge of Maple Grove Cemetery, producing a sharp and undesirable radius of curvature. The cut-off cut 328 feet off of the Main Line.[5]

East of Lefferts Avenue the new cut-off passed through the high ground of the A. P. Man estate, the Richmond Hill Golf Club, and on the west side of the turnpike, through farms recently acquired by the Cord Meyer Development Company. The railroad, after consultation, careful study and negotiations between the engineers of the railroad and the city, established a grade line for the railroad that significantly reduced the old gradient and so made it possible to achieve a higher rate of speed. Maple Grove station, at that time was only 500 feet south of Kew Gardens Road (old Newtown Avenue), was now about to be moved about 600 feet south farther down Lefferts Avenue to a new site north of the tracks and on the west side of Lefferts Avenue.

Much of the success of the Maple Grove cut-off was due to the good will of Alrick H. Man, the founder of Richmond Hill. The railroad bought out his estate of 25 acres on the west side of the turnpike and also the property of the Richmond Hill Golf Club also owned by Man, which organization was now forced out of existence since the new cut-off cut the grounds in two. Alrick Man, who in 1908 still owned a large part of Richmond Hill and many of its fine houses, gained materially by the railroad move since the railroad station would now be far closer to the built-up section of Richmond Hill. He also lost no time in cutting streets through the golf club property nearest the new "Kew" station and building handsome, high-quality houses in what was already an exclusive, expensive section. Although this mile and a half of relocation cost roughly $500,000—the railroad felt that the heavy expense was justified on the ground that the improvement was a permanent one and that it affected the main line of the road, so that all Long Island would be benefited by shorter running time.

In November 1908, a number of substantial wooden barracks were erected on the railroad's property by the contractor in Forest Hills; the heavy machinery was rapidly being assembled and steam shovels were soon to begin work at Kew Gardens and near Forest Hills. Winter slowed down progress but work began in earnest in March 1909. Two new bridges were added to the plans in 1909 for the Forest Hills section: Ascan Avenue and Penelope Avenue, each of these a new 650 foot high-way. So rapidly did the work go all during the summer of 1909 that by September both grading and track laying had been completed. On September 4 Main Line service opened over the Maple Grove cut-off and through Forest Hills.[6]

The new Kew station was moved approximately 600 feet south alongside and perpendicular to the tracks for use as a real estate office of developers of Kew on September 8, 1910. The former station was razed a short time later, and the existing station was renamed Kew Gardens in 1912.

The Kew Gardens station has the unfortunate distinction of being the site of the worst accident in Long Island Rail Road history, as well as the worst in New York state history. On November 22, 1950, a collision between two Long Island Rail Road commuter trains killed 79 people and injured hundreds.[7][8] This occurred nine months after a collision at Rockville Centre station on February 17, 1950, that resulted in the deaths of 32 people, and serious injury of 158 people.[9] A far more notorious historical aspect is the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, which occurred near this station and Genovese had parked her car at its parking lot before her murder.

Hopedale Station[edit]

West of the original Maple Grove station was a station known as Hopedale, which was named after a hamlet near today's Union Turnpike west of Queens Boulevard.[10] It was established in July 1875 and was first listed on the timetable of May 1877 and is listed in the book made for the LIRR Long Island and where to go. In 1877 there were three daily trains going west and one daily train going east.[11] Money for a new building was contributed by the people of Richmond Hill and Whitepot (Forest Hills). Built by Mr. Earl Lee of Corona and the building was erected in October 1875. Trains began stopping here about November 15, 1875. The depot was located opposite Hopedale Hall on Queens Boulevard at Union Turnpike.[12] In March 1879, all new rails were laid from Hopedale to Jamaica. This station served Maple Grove Cemetery until the Maple Grove station opened, and the station was a fourth of a mile away from the cemetery.[13] However, due to the proposed construction of a second track, and its close proximity to Maple Grove Station, it was closed on April 28, 1884, relocated, and converted into a private residence.[14]

Platforms and tracks[edit]

3  Main Line toward Penn Station (Forest Hills)
1  Main Line no stop
2  Main Line no stop
4  Main Line toward Long Island (Jamaica)

This station has two high-level side platforms each four cars long;[15] generally, the first four cars of a train in either direction will receive and discharge passengers at this station. The north platform next to Track 3 is generally used by westbound or Manhattan-bound trains. The south platform next to Track 4 is generally used by eastbound or outbound trains. Most LIRR trains that pass through the station do not stop. The Main Line has four tracks; the two middle tracks not next to either platform, are used by express trains.


  1. ^ Average weekday, 2006 LIRR Origin and Destination Study
  2. ^ Vincent Seyfried's notes @ Stony Brook University
  3. ^ "The 1950 LIRR crash at Kew Gardens/Richmond Hill". July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ "A Picture History of Kew Gardens, NY - The Maple Grove Long Island Railroad Station.". 
  5. ^ "LIRR Branch Notes". 
  6. ^ Seyfried, Vincent F. "Part Seven: The Age of Electrification 1901-1916". The Long Island Rail Road A Comprehensive History. pp. 150–154. 
  7. ^ "The Maple Grove Station". 
  8. ^ "About the Long Island Rail Road's Worst Train Crash". Richmond Hill Historical Society. 
  9. ^ "Long Island Rail Road Wrecks". 
  10. ^ "A Picture History of Kew Gardens, NY - The Hopedale Long Island Railroad Station". 
  11. ^ Long Island and where to go!! A descriptive work compiled for the Long Island R. R. co. for the use and benefit of its patrons. 1877. p. 15. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  12. ^ The Long Island Rail Road: The age of expansion, 1863-1880 Vincent Seyfried Page 186
  13. ^ "26 May 1879, Page 4 - at". 
  15. ^ Proposed MTA Capital Program 2010-2014, DRAFT - August 2009

External links[edit]