Home About Us Email Us Find It What's New Back Cont'd

Search this site - powered by FreeFind                        
In the Beginning
The Long Island Rail Road Station
Maple Grove Cemetery and Vicinity
Kew Cards
Homes of Kew
Lefferts Boulevard and Vicinity
Queens Boulevard and Vicinity
Metropolitan Avenue and Vicinity
Kew Garden Apartments
Kew Gardens in the News
PS99 Photographs and More

Read Guestbook
Post Message
Guestbook Archives
Where Are They?

Special Feature
Kew Gardens Improvement Association
Links to Other Web Sites of Interest


Click image to enlarge
This c. 1941 photograph shows Koopman's Florist at the five corners end of the Kew Corners Apartment Building. Click on image to enlarge.
Random Recollections

by ALAN LINSKY - Page 1 of 3

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

I've seen a number of references to "ye olde shoppes" in Kew Gardens. So I thought I'd take you for a little stroll down memory lane, with my unusual penchant for the trivial! The era is circa 1940-1960 and we start our tour at the famous "five corners" (at Lefferts Boulevard, 83rd Avenue, and Grenfell Street).

The most prominent store facing you at the intersection, as seen from the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), is Koopman's Florist with its name emblazoned in heavy green script over a large catty cornered display window. Koopman's, a source of lovely flowers and house plants, was originally situated across the way in the Homestead building and took the larger quarters after the Kew Corners opened in the late twenties. Tom, the proprietor, is congenial and works miracles with potting soil.

Continuing on, the next stop is Walter Bachmann's Kew Gardens Jewelers with the giant Bulova clock over the doorway, and a fine line of watches and other baubles.

Forging ahead, we come to Carl Wolf's Kew Cozy ("Where the Elite Meet to Eat") which was originally "Levins" (I'm not sure if Carl or the previous owners changed the name). Great breakfasts and lunches with the best burgers in town (I should know, I've eaten enough of them!).


Click image to enlarge
The view is on Lefferts Boulevard c. 1940 looking north to five corners. The store front signs are for Supreme Radio and Television, the Semigraham Dress Shop, and Levine's Garden Hardware. Click on image to enlarge.
Sam Levines Garden Hardware and Paint comes up next, and it isn't just a hardware store, it's the hardware store! Whatever you need Sam has, and if you don't happen to see it he'll bring it up from the basement for you. No bubble wrap here - you buy your screws, nails, nuts and bolts by the pound.

The next stop is Mrs. Semigraham's dress shop (which I really wasn't into!). Passing Semigraham's as quickly as possible we arrive at Moskowitz's tailor shop. A dingy relic of the twenties with faded gold leaf covered glass letters (half of which had already fallen away) spelling out "Premier Tailoring" in an arched shape in the front window. Mr. Moskowitz sits at the window stitching his wares and watching the world go by.

A step back into reality for a moment. Moskowitz =burned two small light bulbs (one at his sewing table and one over the pressing machine in the rear). If his monthly electric bill exceeded $1.35 (in 1947) it was a lot. Suddenly his bills soared to $135 and, simultaneously, he began to notice that his lights would blink every time his neighbor demonstrated a T.V. set! The utility company discovered that Klein's electrician inadvertently plugged into Moskowitz's meter during the alterations.


Click image to enlarge
Still looking north on Lefferts Boulevard c. 1940, this photograph shows part of the awning of George';s Meat and Poultry Shop and the local spirit shop. Click on image to enlarge.
The eye catching Supreme Television and Radio follows. Opened in the late forties to accommodate the demand for a new craze called television, owner Harry Klein sank a fortune into the latest fixtures and an ultra modern (for the time) stainless steel storefront.

Moving along, we come to the local spirits shop. Being that I wasn't much of a drinker (yet) we'll pass right by it to George's Meats and Poultry which is always sparkly clean with shiny ming green ceramic tile walls and floors covered in sawdust. George's is the last store in the Kew Corners and is followed by an alley that gives ingress to the utility basement of the building (I used to use it as a short cut to get home and was often chased by Mr Trommer the superintendent).

The last four stores in the block are found in a small building between the alley and Beverly Road. The first being Winkler's Grocery Store. I remember the telephone number (Cleveland 3 2410) because my mother used to call it three times a day! After Mr. Winkler sold out it became an Associated.


Click image to enlarge
This view shows the northwestly corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Beverly Road c. 1940, the site of a local gin mill. Click on image to enlarge.
The second store is Harry and Ruth Rothman's "Andre Beauty Salon". At some point in the early fifties they moved over to a newer and more modern facility on the Austin Theater side of the bridge.

Store number three is a newspaper, candy, toy and soda shop (best egg creams this side of Brooklyn!) owned by an elderly couple by the name of Lucas (I got my first set of Lionel trains there).

Last but not least is a local gin mill at the corner of Beverly for which I have no personal memories (remember, I didn't drink yet).

Before the Beginning

Nobody talks much about 83rd. Avenue between Kew Gardens Road and Queens Blvd., but I believe the street may hold a very prominent place in the history of Kew Gardens possibly as the site of one of the first settlements.

On the Maple Grove Cemetery side of the road and stretching almost all the way down to Queens Boulevard stood a row of nearly a dozen wood framed and clap board sided cottages very typical of "farmhouse" design circa 1880 to 1900. The austere dwellings were nothing like the luxury homes that dotted the area beginning in the second decade of the twentieth century, which leads me to believe that they may have been built originally as residences for cemetery staff and employees.


Click image to enlarge
A house at the corner of 83rd Avenue and Kew Gardens Road in 1936. Click on image to enlarge.
The theory makes sense because the properties abutted Maple Grove and were probably part of the original parcel. Additionally, with the stark desolation of the area in the 1880's it would have been most practical for the cemetery to have provided on-site lodgings.

The houses, which eventually became havens for the homeless and gained a reputation as the local slum existed well into the forties before they were abandoned and boarded up by order of the city. One home, which sat at the corner of Kew Gardens Road and was more substantial then the others, burned to the ground in a spectacular fire sometime around 1950 (research indicates that it may have belonged to a well known stone cutter by the name of John Budion). The remaining structures were eventually bulldozed to make way for what was to become the present apartment complex.


Click image to enlarge
The P.S. 99 schoolyard c. 1957. Click on image to enlarge.]
The school side of 83rd. Avenue also has an interesting bit of history. The property between what was the rear of PS 99's grade level playground and Queens Blvd. remained undeveloped until the construction of the Silver Towers high-rise in the early sixties, which still left a good sized tract in the center of the block.

Nathan Kalikow, a developer of multiple dwellings throughout Queens and Manhattan, showed interest in erecting another high-rise on the vacant site. However, he found that the then Board of Education owned approximately one third of the land. Being the politico that he was he managed to work a deal with the city, which allowed him to put up his edifice and, for the use of the school property, build additional classrooms and other facilities where the original playground stood. Unfortunately, other than the original school building itself, that part of 83rd. Avenue has been lost to the pages of history!

A Farewell to an Old Friend

Green Bus Lines, whose Q10 route plies Lefferts Blvd., and has served Kew Gardens unswervingly for the past '72' years will now become another page in our history.

As of January 1st. 2005, and following numerous stays of execution, New York City Transit will officially take over not only the routes of Green Line but also those of six other regional private carriers. The change will be basically in color only as the MTA has had control of the franchises since 1975. The name Green Line will disappear and its familiar green banded buses will take on the equally familiar blue hue of New York City.

I had a very personal relationship with the company being that its founder and president was a second cousin of mine. In fact, my first part time job at age 14 with working papers, was as a passenger counter at the Kew Gardens subway station (I think they created the title just for me). I was paid a whopping 75 cents an hour and rode free wherever I wanted to go!. Then, after obtaining a chauffeur's license and learning how to drive a bus, I spent a couple of summers (between school terms) hauling passengers on the Woodhaven Boulevard/Crossbay Boulevard line to Rockaway Beach (sans air conditioning, power steering and automatic transmission). [Continued on the next page]

  • Al Linsky lived in Kew Gardens from 1938 to 1963 and attended P.S. 99 from 1944 to 1953. He is now retired, splitting his time between Brentwood, CA and Woodmere, NY. His avocation is as a broker of antique vehicles to the motion picture and television industry.
  • School Yard photograph courtesy of Lenny Schneir
  • All other photograps courtesy of the Queens Borough Public Library Long Island Division, Illustrations Collection - Kew Gardens

Back  |  Cont'd