Kew Gardens Hills, Queens

Kew Gardens Hills
Neighborhood in Queens

A fruit and vegetable store on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.
Country United States
State New York
County Queens
Named for Kew Gardens, Queens; in turn named after Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew[1]
  Total 1.0 sq mi (3 km2)
Population (2000)
  Total 38,216
  White 85.1%
  Black 1.2%
  Hispanic 4.2%
  Asian 8.5%
  Other 1.%
  Median income $95,847
ZIP code 11367
Area code(s) 718, 347, 917

Kew Gardens Hills is a middle class neighborhood in the middle of the New York City borough of Queens.


Kew Gardens Hills is situated in the southwestern corner of the area historically known as the Town of Flushing, in its 6th district.

As neighborhoods in the City of New York are not designated by the city,[2] there are multiple means to determine the geographical boundaries of the area:

Adjacent neighborhoods include Forest Hills to the west, Hillcrest to the east, Briarwood to the south, and Queensboro Hill to the north.


Early settlement

In the northwestern part of the neighborhood[12] was the location of the 120 acres (49 ha) Spring Hill Farm.[13] The farm was part of the Francis Lewis estate during colonial times. By 1762 the farm was owned by Colonel Thomas Willet, High Sheriff of Flushing,[14] and was sold to Cadwallader Colden, lieutenant governor for the Province of New York. In 1763 Colden built the Spring Hill House on the property. In 1783 the property was confiscated by the government because Cadwallader's son David was a loyalist to the monarchy. By 1894 the Durkee family owned the property and sold it to the Cedar Grove Cemetery Corporation. The Spring Hill House became the office of the Cedar Grove Cemetery, until the house was later destroyed by a fire.[13] Cadwallader Colden and Thomas Willet are among those who are buried on the property on what is now the grounds of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.[15][16][17]

In the 19th century the area of Kew Gardens Hills was known as Head of the Fly,[18] for its location at the headwaters of the Flushing Creek (or Flushing River). Fly or vly, being the Dutch word for swamp. One of the oldest roads through the area was called the Vleigh Road, and still exists today as Vleigh Place.[19]

Timothy Jackson operated a horse boarding stable near where the intersection of Park Drive East and Union Turnpike, or the Kew Gardens Interchange is today.[11][20] On what is now the Jamaica subway yard was previously a horse race course, built by Timothy Jackson, and was known as Whitepot Race & Track.[21] Although the train yard is not in Jamaica, it is named Jamaica because the yard feeds the subway lines which begin (or end) in Jamaica. This area was an extension of Timothy Jackson's Willow Glen Farm for which the farmhouse was located south of Union Turnpike in the neighborhood of Jamaica that is now called Briarwood.[22] In the 1750s, William Furman was the owner of the farm he named Willow Glen.[23] Today Willow Lake, at the southern end of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, retains the Willow name.

The municipal government of the Town of Flushing, which dated back to colonial times, along with other municipal township governments in Queens County, was incorporated into the Borough of Queens on January 1, 1898. Later, the area, was named after Kew Gardens, which in 1909 was renamed after Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London, England in the United Kingdom.[1]

The area's earliest modern homes were built in 1917 off of Union Turnpike, but in the early 20th century, the area was known as Queens Valley and consisted mostly of farmland. By the 1920s many of the farms were sold to golf clubs or country clubs.[24] The golf courses that made up the area include the Spring Hill Golf Course, Queens Valley Golf Course, Pomonok Country Club, and Arrowbrook[25] Country Club. In 1939, the Arrowbrook Country Club was the home of the "Summer City Hall" of Mayor La Guardia.[26]

One road that ran through the area was called Quarrelsome Lane., which ran from Jamaica Road to Fresh Meadow Road; the road is now known as 75th Avenue. Jamaica Road, the most direct route between the villages of Flushing and Jamaica,[27] is now Kissena Boulevard and becomes Parsons Boulevard at the intersection of Quarrelsome Lane.[28]

Later years

Queens County Savings Bank on Main Street

Growth to Kew Gardens Hills came when Kew Gardens, Queens, to the south, gained a subway line at Queens Boulevard in 1936 and Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, directly to the northwest of the neighborhood, hosted the 1939 New York World's Fair. Early residents were mostly German, Irish and Italian. Many were relocating from Brooklyn and Manhattan. The area was hilly and Kew Gardens was known as a prestigious Queens neighborhood and so developers changed its name from Queens Valley to Kew Gardens Hills.[29]

The first Queen of Peace mass took place in 1939.[19] Property along 144th Street, now part of Main Street, was seized by the city to complete the construction of Main Street from northern Flushing. Main Street was paved and bus routes began to serve the area in 1941. The Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills was established in 1941. The Queens County Savings Bank opened its branch in 1949 and local school, P.S. 164, also known as the Queens Valley School, also opened its doors that year.[30]

Main Street Cinemas—designed by architect Joseph Unger, who also designed the Trylon Theatre—opened in 1940 and operated by Interboro Circuit Inc. The 600 seat single screen theater was built at a cost of $75,000, and was dubbed one of the city's finest. The theater has since been subdivided into a six screen cineplex. Of the 39 theaters once operated by Interbor, Main Street Cinemas is the only theatre still in use today.[31][32]

On July 14, 1965, the neighborhood became infamous when five-year-old Eddie Crimmins Jr. and four-year-old Missy Crimmins vanished from their garden apartment at 150–22 72nd Drive. Missy's body was found the same day in a vacant lot on 71st Avenue at 162nd Street (the area where the 107th Precinct is located today.) Eddie's body was found five days later near 68th Drive and the entrance to the northbound Van Wyck Expressway. The children's mother, Alice Crimmins, was convicted in 1971, and imprisoned, in the death of her children. She was paroled in 1977.[33]

On September 16, 2010, an EF1 tornado touched down in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, causing widespread damage to cars and homes in the Kew Gardens Hills area. John Bowne High School—located along Main Street at the edge of the CUNY Queens College campus, directly across from Mt. Hebron Cemetery—was the only New York City public school building to sustain physical damage related to the storm and was closed on the day after the storm.[34]



The neighborhood contains an established Orthodox and Haredi Jewish population and some Israelis, Bukharan Jews as well as smaller groups of Latinos, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Afghanis and African Americans. Kew Gardens Hills is home to the largest concentration of Afghanis in the New York metropolitan area.[35]


Haym Solomon Square in Kew Gardens Hills.
Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Kew Gardens Hills.

There are several dozen houses of worship in Kew Gardens Hills, many of them Jewish.

Established in 1941, the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills is the only traditional Conservative synagogue located in the heart of Kew Gardens Hills. By the 1950s, the Orthodox Jewish community began to take root. The first orthodox synagogue was formed in 1950 on Parsons Blvd and 78th road when the Jewish Center of Torath Emeth was formed with Rabbi Joel Laks as the spiritual leader. Initial congregants included the future rabbi of Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, and families of other yet-to-be-built synagogues in the neighborhood. The following year, the Young Israel Congregation of Kew Gardens Hills was founded in 1951 with 15 families. That congregation now consists of 450 families.[36] Congregation Machzikei Hadas formed by Rabbi Yosef Gelernter on 73rd Avenue, and is home to the first mikveh in Kew Gardens Hills. At Vleigh Place and Main Street, the City of New York developed and constructed a small park in 1957–58. In March 1960, the City Council named it Freedom Square to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, founder of present-day Zionism.[27][37] As the neighborhood has a large Orthodox Jewish population, many residents have also moved from traditionally Jewish neighborhoods such as Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

Other houses of congregation are not Jewish. The Roman Catholic Church Queen of Peace is located on Main Street at 77th Road. St. Nicholas of Tolentine is located on Parsons Boulevard behind east of Parkway Village. The Lutheran Church of the Ascension is located on Main Street just south of Union Turnpike. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, located on 65th Avenue near Parsons Boulevard, is also the facility used by the Korean Grace Community Church.

A sizable Muslim and Sikh population exists in areas of Kew Gardens Hills as well, most notably on the northern side with several stores catering to that population.


Shops on Main Street

The commercial areas of the neighborhood include Main Street, Union Turnpike, Parsons Boulevard, and Kissena Boulevard. Main Street, in particular, is home to many Jewish-themed stores and Kosher restaurants. Many of the businesses along Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills close for Shabbat due to the area's large Jewish population.[29] Many businesses along Kissena Boulevard, on the other hand, have closed permanently due to economic situations.[38]

Government and governmental services

PS 164, Queens Valley School of the Arts


Public schools

Kew Gardens Hills' public schools, as are the public schools in all of New York City, are operated by the New York City Department of Education.

The following elementary schools (grades PK-5) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:

The following middle schools (grades 6–8) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:

The following high schools (grades 9–12) are located within Kew Gardens Hills:

Colleges and universities

Two university campuses are located in Kew Gardens Hills. Located in the northern portion of Kew Gardens Hills is Queens College, a liberal arts college that is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Queens College also serves as an important cultural institution for neighborhood residents with Colden Center for the Performing Arts and the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.[24]

Notable graduates of Queens College include native son Jerry Seinfeld, who was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1994, Ron Jeremy,[39] and Paul Simon.

Lander College, the men's college of Touro College, has a large campus on 150th Street at 75th Road.

Private schools

Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim (76th Road & 147th Street), Lander College for Men (75th Road and 150th Street, a division of Touro College), and Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim (71st Avenue & Main Street, a division of Touro College) are large yeshivas located in Kew Gardens Hills.

Other religious schools located in Kew Gardens Hills include St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Shevach High School (Main Street at 75th Road), Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun, Yeshiva of Central Queens (70th Road at 150th Street), Yeshiva Ketana (Parsons Boulevard & 78th Road) and Solomon Schechter School of Queens (76-26 Parsons Blvd.)

Public libraries

Kew Gardens Hills Library Branch of Queens Library
New Kew Gardens Hills library building under construction

Queens Library operates the Kew Gardens Hills Branch at 72–33 Vleigh Place.[40] From 1954 until 1998 this library was called the Vleigh Branch. It was the first Queens Library to have air conditioning.[41] In 2012, the section of Vleigh Place between 72nd Drive and 72nd Road, the block of the library building, was renamed Pat Dolan Way. Dolan was the president of the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Association until she was killed in a 2011 car crash. She was instrumental in securing funding for expansion of the library.[42] Expansion of the Kew Gardens Hills branch began in March 2013 and a temporary library has been opened nearby at 71–34 Main Street.[40]

Queens Library also operates the nearby Pomonok Branch at 158–21 Jewel Avenue, east of Parsons Boulevard.[43]

The Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library,[44] on the Queens College campus, is a depository of U.S. government publications. The library is open to the general public for consultation and on-site use of these collections.[45]

Police, fire, and emergency

The majority of Kew Gardens Hills is served by the 107th Precinct of the New York City Police Department. The small portion of the area that is within Queens Community Board 7 is served by the 109th Precinct of the New York City Police Department.[46] Kew Gardens Hills is served by the Fire Department of New York City Engine 315 – Ladder 125, located on Union Turnpike at 159th Street. Emergency medical services are run by the FDNY Bureau of EMS, and the City of New York, Health and Hospitals Corporation operates the Queens Hospital Center (formerly known as Queens General Hospital) along 164th in the southeast corner of the area. Located on Main Street at Booth Memorial Avenue, only a few blocks north of Kew Gardens Hills in Queensboro Hill, is New York Hospital Queens (formerly known as Booth Memorial Hospital). Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance, Queens Division also serves the Kew Gardens Hills community, with 3 ambulances.


Except for an area west of Main Street and north of the cemetery which is located within the boundaries of Queens Community Board 7, the remaining areas of Kew Gardens Hills are within Queens Community Board 8.[47] The entire area of Kew Gardens Hills is part of New York City Council District 24.[48] In January 2014, Rory Lancman, was inaugurated as the 24th district's Councilmember, replacing James F. Gennaro, whom after serving three terms, was unable to run for re-election due to term limits.

Several civic or homeowners associations lobby on behalf of residents of the area. These associations include the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association, the Flushing on the Hill Taxpayers Association, Cedar Grove Civic Homeowners Association, Flushing Suburban Civic Association, Georgetown Mews, and Parkway Village Historical Society.[49]

Kew Gardens Hills is split among three districts in the New York State Assembly. These districts are 24; Assemblymember David Weprin, 25; Assemblymember Nily Rozic, and 27; Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz. Kew Gardens Hills is also split among three districts in the New York State Senate. These districts are 16; Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, 14; Senator Leroy Comrie and 15; Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. Finally, Kew Gardens Hills is split among two congressional districts in the United States Congress. These districts are New York's 5th congressional district and New York's 9th congressional district.


Main north-south arteries through and around the perimeter of the neighborhood are Main Street, Kissena Boulevard, 164th Street, and Parsons Boulevard. East-west arteries are Jewel Avenue, Union Turnpike, and the Horace Harding Expressway. Highways to and around the neighborhood include the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, and the Jackie Robinson Parkway (Interboro Parkway), which all intersect at the Kew Gardens Interchange.

Local New York City Bus routes are the Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q44 SBS, Q46, Q64, Q88,[50] and the Q74 bus used to serve the neighborhood nearly exclusively until 2010.[51][52] MTA Bus routes are the Q25, Q34, Q65.[50] All express buses to Manhattan are operated under MTA Bus Company; they are the QM1, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8.[50] However, no New York City Subway stations serve the neighborhood directly; instead, they are accessible via local buses.[53]

Co-named streets

Because of the large Jewish population in Kew Gardens Hills, six streets in the neighborhood were named or co-named after notable Jewish persons:

Other streets named or co-named for non-Jewish persons include:


One of many Kew Gardens Hills garden apartments
The intersection of 71st Avenue and 150th Street in eastern Kew Gardens Hills

Kew Gardens Hills is a mixed neighborhood of single-family homes – detached or in rows – as well as three to six-story garden apartment buildings mostly built during the years immediately following World War II, such as Regency Gardens. These apartments are characterized by their lawns and internal pathways that give the complexes a small-neighborhood feel. There are several homes in Kew Gardens Hills that predate Main Street, whose property was subject to eminent domain in the 1930s to widen 144th Street into the Main Street extension from northern Flushing. A few public housing projects in one part of the neighborhood were also built. Other buildings in that area were built to house employees of certain unions, including the Electchester Co-operative Building, built for electrical employees in 1949 on what used to be the grounds of the Pomonok Country Club, which no longer houses electrical employees exclusively.[27]



Parks and playgrounds

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation maintains several playgrounds and parks in the Kew Gardens Hills area:

Notable residents

Notable residents past and present of Kew Gardens Hills include:

  • Aaron Alexis (1979–2013), gunman in the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting, lived on 77th Road.[76]
  • Ellen Barkin (1954–), an American actress, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills.[77]
  • Ralph Bunche (1903–1971), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1950, lived in Parkway Village.
  • Robert Chartoff (1933–), film producer, grew up in the neighborhood.[78]
  • Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), Lieutenant Governor for the Province of New York, maintained his summer residence at Spring Hill[79]
  • Cadwallader David Colden (1769–1834), Politician. Mayor of New York from 1818–1821 was born in Spring Hill Farm[79]
  • Fran Drescher (1957–), actress, from The Nanny.[80] She lived at 147–49 72nd Avenue, Ambassador Gardens, and then at 150–58 71st Avenue, and worked at the Main Street movie theater as a teenager.[81]
  • Bob Dylan, musician, once lived in the neighborhood, near Queens College.[78]
  • Betty Friedan (1921–2006), American activist, feminist and writer, lived in Parkway Village in the early 1950s.
  • Ashrita Furman, set more than 160 official Guinness records.[82]
  • Art Garfunkel lived at 136–58 72nd Avenue.[83]
  • Lenny Hambro (1923–1995), jazz musician, lived on 77th Road.[84]
  • Fiorello La Guardia (1882–1947), former congressman and mayor of New York City maintained a summer residence in the area.[85]
  • Martin Landau (1928–), actor, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills.[78]
  • Michael Landon (1936–1991), actor, grew up in Kew Gardens Hills and attended Forest Hills High School.[86]
  • Rose Meth (1925–2013), surviving participant in the October 7, 1944 "Sonderkommando uprising"[87]
  • Mark Olf (1905–1987), Jewish folksinger and recording artist, lived in Kew Gardens Hills.
  • Michael Simanowitz, New York State Assembly Member, lives in the Electchester development.
  • Paul Simon (1941–), lived at 137–62 70th Road[83]
  • Paul Stanley (1952–), lead singer of KISS lived on 70th Road near Main Street[88][89]
  • Kalman Topp (1972–), American rabbi, educator and author, lived on 72nd Crescent.
  • Leroy Watson, rapper, makes his home in Kew Gardens Hills.[90]
  • Moses Weinstein (1912–2007), American lawyer and politician lived in Kew Gardens Hills, and now has a playground named for him.[91]
  • Roy Wilkins (1901–1981) one of America's leading civil rights leaders, heading the NAACP. He lived at 147–15 Village Rd. in Parkway Village. A major park in south Queens now bears his name.


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Coordinates: 40°43′46″N 73°49′12″W / 40.72937°N 73.82012°W / 40.72937; -73.82012

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