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Forgotten NY was the first recipient of the Outstanding NYC Website award by the Guides Association of NYC in March 2015! Forgotten New York is a program of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, a non-profit organization supported by the Long Island City community. Situated on the edge of the glacial terminal moraine, Kew Gardens offers historic architecture, winding streets, and a village environment. Designed by Richmond Hill builder Albon Platt Man and developed by his son Alrick Hubbell Man, the neighborhood is a combination of winding park-like streets and an alphabetic street grid.
Like the neighboring Forest Hills Gardens,the early homes of Kew Gardens had strict covenants to prevent overdevelopment. By the 1930s, the Kew Gardens Corporation was bankrupt, the early film stars who owned property in Kew Gardens had moved west, and the Kew Gardens Country Club was razed in favor of a movie theater. In 1937, the streetcar line along Queens Boulevard was supplemented by a subway line, with an express station at Union Turnpike. At this time, the city was also imposing the numbered grid upon Queens, forcing neighborhoods to ditch their street names in favor of numbers. The pedestrian entrance to this tunnel resembles a subway station entrance, minus the bathroom tiles. The Kew Gardens station on the Long Island Railroad has been operating since 1910, with the same station house on the city-bound platform. Austin Street runs along the tracks from Eliot Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue, as a less crowded parallel to Queens Boulevard.
PS 99, the alma mater of Jerry Springer, faces the local Reformed Church, presently housing a Korean congregation.
The cemetery led to the creation of a train station, which led to the creation of the neighborhood. The Classic condos opened in 2008 [Kew Gardens Road and 83rd Drive], an apartment palace fashioned out of the former Chatillon Scale factory, a rare manufacturer in the neighborhood. While some local preservationists hoped to see the factory’s Tudor style incorporated into the condo, it has a decidedly Mediterranean palace look. A private park runs through the Georgian-style Dale Gardens campus (125th and 126th Streets, between Austin Street and Maple Grove Cemetery). Every village has a center, and for Kew Gardens, it’s the Tudor-style Homestead building [Lefferts Blvd.
The borough’s sole Anglo-Japanese building [84-62 Beverly Road] is in near ruin, with first-floor windows cemented and rain gutters hanging over. One of a kind homes can be found around the neighborhood, including one bisected by a driveway and one [at 80-55 Park Lane] that coincidentally resembles the Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn. Grosvenor Road [properly pronounced Gruh-ve-ner] shows the dangers of unrestricted development as ugly brick condo boxes elbow their way into a village of Tudor houses. Before Kew Gardens, Albon Platt Man founded Richmond Hill in 1869, a suburb of Victorian homes named after Richmond-on-Thames, a suburb of London. Large porches, round windows, and sizable yards define the oldest homes in both neighborhoods.
In Kew Gardens, the English theme is also echoed with the Hampton Court apartments, tucked inside Forest Park. The highest point in Kew Gardens (outside the cemetery) is on Audley Street, where a water tower has stood in one form or another since the early years of Richmond Hill.
With the right height and appearance, a modern building can fit into the village, as demonstrated by Anshe Shalom. Often with synagogues, Reform and Conservative build big, but the children tend to move away or assimilate.

The landscape of Forest Park has the same verdant setting as Central Park, but it has only a few sculptures in it. At the northern tip of Forest Park [Park Lane and Union Turnpike] is the Overlook, a knob-like hill that provides views of Forest Hills Gardens. The Crossroads Building of the 1980s [Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike] was an ugly addition to the skyline, replacing the Kew Gardens General Hospital, which itself was a former hotel. It also encountered local opposition, but its 300,000 square feet of space, including a garage, community room and numerous law offices.
In a grotesque parody of the Lefferts Boulevard bridge, the Union Turnpike overpass also has buildings along its shoulders- the massive Park Lane Towers co-op, built in 1975 by developer Samuel Lefrak, who later affected the spelling LeFrak. Newcombe Square is a little semicircle at the split of Queens Boulevard and Kew Gardens Road.
In the background are the Kew Bolmer apartments, which mark the first stop on the Q10 bus line. The mezzanine of the Union Turnpike station mezzanine is bisected by Union Turnpike, and it once had a platform for buses inside the subway station. No talk about local subways is complete without mentioning the retired Redbird car stationed outside Borough Hall, literally above the working subway line. The restricted area on the map to the left was limited to single-family homes, with larger apartment buildings relegated to the neighborhood’s periphery. The Kew Gardens grid once had Ibis, Juno, Kingsley, Lefferts, Mowbray, Newbold, Onslow, Pembroke, and Quentin.
A complicated engineering solution encompasses three separate bridges on Lefferts: one for the roadway, and two on each side that support the buildings.
Just across the street, the storefront without the awning is the Q Gardens Gallery, where you can find Ron Marzlock, local historian and Queens Chronicle contributor.
The former tennis courts of the country club are presently a rundown sitting area with a film-themed mural. The cemetery [Kew Gardens road south of 83rd Avenue) dates to a time when "burial parks" were beautiful, with ponds, winding streets, and grove of trees: not like today's crowded graveyards. Kew Gardens Road is a colonial period route whose traffic had been siphoned off by nearby Queens Boulevard in the late 19th century. As the city continues to phase out local water tanks, the end of Austin Street, at 126th, will no longer be so easily defined. Most of the city’s remaining tanks are located in Queens, and Kew Gardens has two of them. For Kew Gardens, the Homestead Hotel [83 Grenfell Street between Audley Street and 83rd Avenue] served that purpose.
In contrast to the home above, these two are lovingly maintained by their respective owners. Windsor Court on the left is an excellent example of a building that fits into the village. This winter scene appears as bucolic as 1869, but behind the camera are apartment buildings of a different style. It was once surrounded by a golf course, and the clubhouse stood next to the water tower until 2005, when it was replaced by this brick mansion. In contrast, the Orthodox generally, avoid building large temples, preferring to use their funds for yeshivas (religious schools). Its location is ideal, with 4 bus lines, an express subway station, and three major highways nearby. At a height of 20 floors, many local homeowners opposed their creation, hiring attorney Mario Cuomo to represent them.

His interest in journalism can be traced back to childhood, when he made a hobby out of writing letters to the editors of local newspapers. A sense of place, a relationship with nature, one that gives residents pride and makes a trip to the grocery feel like a leisurely stroll. To the south of the old station [at about today's 83rd Avenue and Grenfell Street] there was a glacial kettle pond called Crystal Lake. Metropolitan Avenue (left), Lefferts Boulevard (bottom) Union Turnpike (top) and Newtown Road, now Kew Gardens Road, and Hoffman Boulevard, now Queens Boulevard, are recognizable on the map. According toKew Gardens: Urban Village in the Big City author and PBS-TV host Barry Lewis, the store’s bridges actually run through the buildings’ roofs, with the storefronts hung from the bridges like a curtain on a rod. Marzlock welcomes old photos of Queens, and I always stop by to visit him whenever I’m in Kew Gardens. The apartments above the nearby Austin Ale House once housed a young Rodney Dangerfield and waitress Kitty Genovese, who was murdered under shameful circumstances nearby in 1964. The longtime co-op recently turned condo and renamedTalbot Gardens, restoring its full-time concierge and gate.
Its southern end was once East Hamilton Beach, a fishing enclave that was razed for the airports expansion in the 1950s. Sadly, residents hoping to cash in on their homes largely oppose landmarking, arguing that it impedes their freedom to alter their homes. From the top of the tower, it is possible to see much of Queens, but I chose not to trespass. Responding to local demographic changes, it became Orthodox in 2008, renamed Anshe Shalom Chabad. The Orthodox are more attached to their shuls and schools, and are often the last to leave a neighborhood. I have no idea what the architect was thinking by giving the building wings on its roofline.
The neighborhood’s midway location between JFK and LaGuardia makes it popular with airline workers. The engineering principle is similar to that of the circa-1565 Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) in Florence, Italy. Situated at the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Talbot Street, the building takes up half a block. Over the years, this building has been reduced in size, but he baker on its corner keeps its name in mind. In 2006, an out-of-context brick box was built behind the Homestead, sandwiched between two Tudors. One of the Job statues was donated to the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, and the other to Forest Park [at Forest Park Drive and Park Lane]. His memorial sculptures can also be found in Liberty State Park, Warsaw, and kibbutz Yad Mordechai. I presume the namesake is British diplomat Lord Curzon, who demarcated the Russian-Polish border in 1919. Both hotels once attracted crowds of tennis spectators, when the US Open played in Forest Hills.

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