Kew Gardens is a middle–upper class neighborhood in the central area of the New York City borough of Queens. Kew Gardens, shaped roughly like a triangle, is bounded to the north by the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly the Interboro Parkway), to the east by Van Wyck Expressway and 131st Street, to the south by Hillside Avenue, and to the west by Park Lane, Abingdon Road, and 118th Street. Forest Park and the neighborhood of Forest Hills are to the west, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park north, Richmond Hill south, Briarwood southeast, and Kew Gardens Hills east.
Kew Gardens was one of seven planned garden communities built in Queens from the late 19th century to 1950. Much of the area was acquired in 1868 by Englishman Albon P. Man, who developed the neighborhood of Hollis Hill to the south, chiefly along Jamaica Avenue, while leaving the hilly land to the north undeveloped.
Maple Grove Cemetery on Kew Gardens Road opened in 1875. A Long Island Rail Road station was built for mourners in October and trains stopped there from mid-November. The station was named Hopedale, after Hopedale Hall, a hotel located at what is now Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike. In the 1890s, the executors of Man’s estate laid out the Queens Bridge Golf Course on the hilly terrains south of the railroad. This remained in use until it was bisected in 1908 by the main line of the Long Island Rail Road, which had been moved 600 feet (180 m) to the south to eliminate a curve. The golf course was then abandoned and a new station was built in 1909 on Lefferts Boulevard. Man’s heirs, Aldrick Man and Albon Man Jr. decided to lay out a new community and called it at first Kew and then Kew Gardens after the well-known botanical gardens in England. The architects of the development favored English and neo-Tudor styles, which still predominate in many sections of the neighborhood.
n 1910, the property was sold piecemeal by the estate and during the next few years streets were extended, land graded and water and sewer pipes installed. The first apartment building was the Kew Bolmer at 80–45 Kew Gardens Road, erected in 1915; a clubhouse followed in 1916 and a private school in 1918. In 1920, the Kew Gardens Inn at the railroad station opened for residential guests, who paid $40 a week for a room and a bath with meals. Elegant one-family houses were built in the 1920s, as were apartment buildings such as Colonial Hall (1921) and Kew Hall (1922) that numbered more than twenty by 1936.
In July 1933, the Grand Central Parkway opened from Kew Gardens to the edge of Nassau County; this road was extended in 1935 as the Interborough Parkway to Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York. Since the parkways used part of the roadbed of Union Turnpike, no houses were demolished. However, the greatest change was wrought by the opening of the Independent Subway System line along Queens Boulevard to Union Turnpike on December 31, 1936; four months later, the subway was extended to Jamaica, Queens. Residents could now reach Manhattan,Brooklyn, and the Bronx twenty-four hours a day for a five-cent fare, stimulating the construction of larger apartment buildings like Kent Manor and high-rise buildings along Queens Boulevard and the last vacant land disappeared.
Despite its historical significance, Kew Gardens lacks any landmark protection
Surrounded by Forest Park, residents in Kew Gardens enjoy what many Manhattanites lack: greenery and quiet nights. The Park, which is very well preserved and is the third largest in Queens, has a private road where residents can jog or walk year round. There are some horse back riding paths and hiking paths actively used by residents. Frederick Law Olmsted conceived the design of the park. Some of the Queens courthouses are also located in Kew Gardens on the side of Queens Boulevard.
The neighborhood also has many airline personnel because of its proximity to the Q10 to John F. Kennedy International Airport, as well as to Delta Air Lines and other airlines’ special shuttles that serve pilots and flight attendants staying in Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens’s commercial center is Lefferts Boulevard between Austin Street and Metropolitan Avenue. This street is the home to many favorite spots, including Kew Gardens Cinemas with a selection of independent international films, Dani’s Pizzeria, Austin’s Steak and the Austin Ale House, and Comic Den. The county’s civic center, Queens Borough Hall, along with one of the county criminal courts, stand at the northern end of the neighborhood, on Queens Boulevard, in a complex extending from Union Turnpike to Hoover Avenue.
Schools of note located in Kew Gardens include Yeshiva Tifereth Moshe, Bais Yaakov of Queens and Yeshiva Shaar Hatorah. P.S. 99, the local public school, has special programs for gifted students such as the Gifted and Talented program, where children start to learn advanced material beginning in second grade.
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