HISTORY OF QUEENS BOULEVARD: Originally called Hoffman Boulevard, Queens Boulevard dates back to the early years of the twentieth century, when the road was constructed as a connecting route between the new Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and central Queens. In 1913, a trolley line was constructed from 59th Street in Manhattan east along the new boulevard.

During the 1920's and 1930's, New York City began a program to widen Queens Boulevard. The project, which was conducted in conjunction with the building of the IND Queens Boulevard subway line, widened the boulevard to 12 lanes in some locations, and required a right-of-way of up to 200 feet. Once completed, local and express traffic flows were provided separate carriageways.

EXPRESSWAY PLANS: In 1941, the New York City Planning Department recommended that an expressway be constructed along eight miles of Queens Boulevard (NY 25) from the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City east to Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. The City's plan for the highway was as follows:

This highway is the major approach from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk to Manhattan. Its conversion to an express highway could readily be accomplished by the construction of grade separation structures at the more important intersections, and by improved mall treatment to close off access to the express roadways from minor streets.

As part of the project, the express lanes of Queens Boulevard were depressed in the area of Woodhaven Boulevard and Horace Harding Boulevard (later developed as the Long Island Expressway), while the local lanes were kept at grade level.

However, the plan to upgrade Queens Boulevard to an expressway was delayed by the onset of World War II, and ultimately, was never implemented. In the postwar era, Robert Moses, the arterial coordinator for New York City, shifted attention to creating an express route between the Queens-Midtown Tunnel (now under the jurisdiction of his Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority), Queens and Long Island. First proposed as improvements to the Queens-Midtown Highway and Horace Harding Boulevard, the route evolved as the Long Island Expressway (I-495).

According to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), Queens Boulevard now carries approximately 50,000 vehicles per day (AADT). In recent years, speeding motorists who exceed the 30 MPH speed limit and jaywalkers have created a lethal mix along densely populated stretches, prompting officials to enact tough measures against both offending groups.

This 2001 photo shows the express lanes of Queens Boulevard (NY 25) at the Woodhaven Boulevard overpass in Elmhurst. The Long Island Expressway (I-495) looms in the background. The depressed treatment of the express lanes in this area was an artifact of the proposed Queens Boulevard Express Highway. (Photo by Jeff Saltzman.)

SOURCES: "Master Plan: Express Highways, Parkways and Major Streets," New York City Planning Commission (1941); Office of the Queens Borough President; Jeff Saltzman.

  • NY 25 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Jeff Saltzman.


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