1957: The Streetcars Stop
Vestiges Remain Of Ancient Breed
By MATT HAMPTON
The remnants of the Jackson Mill Trolley in East Elmhurst can be seen here.
In some neighborhoods across the borough, the ghosts of the past travel a straight line down Northern Boulevard, through Corona and Jackson Heights, progressing towards Manhattan.
While they aren’t always visible, or ever easy to spot if they are, these ghosts represent a lifestyle and a change in society towards the inevitable speed of progress, and the growth of a city that could not be stopped.
Even today, as roads have been re-mapped and rearranged in many of the neighborhoods of Queens, the former trolley tracks can be seen poking through the pavement, like fossils of a bygone era.
The last of the streetcars of Queens stopped traveling their regular routes in 1957, the relics of a bygone era in transportation, replaced by automobile ownership, the subway system, and buses.
The growth of the Interborough Rapid Transit, and the booming “car culture” of the United States put antiquated public transportation stet like streetcars out of commission in areas across the country.
In New York, however, the city and areas like Queens and Brooklyn had a unique need for massive public locomotion. This great public need resulted in both the explosion of trolley activity, and their eventual demise, as more people wanted to get where they needed to go – and faster.
The laundry list of trolley and streetcar companies that operated in Queens in the early part of the century represents a handful of organizations that are unfamiliar to modern residents, used to the all-encompassing blanket transport of the MTA.
At one time, however, companies servicing Queens included the Long Island Electric Railway, New York and Long Island Traction Company, Ocean Electric Railway in the Rockaways and the New York and North Shore Traction Company, among many others.
The trolley routes criss-crossed one another in heavily trafficked areas of the borough, particularly areas along Northern Boulevard, Jamaica neighborhoods and near the Queensborough Bridge.
Even today, the “Trolley Car Triangle” at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard and 97th Street is a reminder of the ubiquitous nature of the streetcar in many neighborhoods throughout the borough.
According to the New York Transit Museum, the first electric Trolley line began on Jamaica Avenue in 1887 (see Page 17), operated by the Jamaica Road Company. The success of the line encouraged other companies to open lines all over the borough. It represented an efficient and inexpensive way for residents of the outer boroughs to travel from one destination to another, with an ease of use that made the entire prospect beneficial for the community.
These lines enjoyed their heyday before the advent of underground subway tunnels, which freed the street for automotive traffic.
With the advent of the bus, which traveled faster than a trolley and without the use of overhead wires and in-ground tracks, the trolley was slowly but surely put out to pasture. One of the last of the lines, according to speculation from the Queens Historical Society, was a car connecting Manhattan to Queens via the Queensboro Bridge.
1957: Elmhurst Hospital’s Site
124-Year-Old Hospital Moves
By Brian M. Rafferty
Inside the Pediatric Emergency waiting room.
For the last 50 years, Elmhurst Hospital Center has been serving the surrounding communities of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona and beyond – serving an area population of about 1 million residents as only one of two public hospitals in Queens.
The hospital itself dates back to well before the current facility opening on 79th Street and Broadway March 18, 1957.
The facility that would one day become Elmhurst Hospital opened its doors as Island Hospital several miles away on Blackwell’s Island – later called Welfare Island and now named Roosevelt Island – as a prison hospital in 1832. It changed its name to City Hospital some years after its opening, and moved to its current home in 1957.
Elmhurst Hospital Center, affiliated with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, serves an area of nearly 1 million people who come from across the globe, speak a multitude of languages and dialects and bring with them their particular beliefs and customs.
In 2006, Elmhurst Hospital’s 556 beds were filled thanks in part to the 590,352 clinic visits, 125,896 Emergency Room visits and 4,059 children who were born in the hospital last year.
Just two years ago, the hospital opened its new Pediatric Emergency Department to complement a massive modernization that included an update to the adult and psychiatric emergency departments, the Level I Trauma Center, a stroke center and a cardiac unit.
From the outside, the Hospital appears as modern as its new interior.
The new pediatric emergency center, with its brightly colored walls and decals of favorite childhood characters, like Spongebob Squarepants and Blue’s Clues, is also meant to make the hospital experience a little more pleasant for the youngest of those patients. “Children come in here scared and we want to make it warm and more inviting,” said Executive Director Chris Constantino.
Many of the patients at Elmhurst Hospital arrive via ambulance, with the facility a serving as a designated 911 receiving hospital. Elmhurst is a regional referral center for trauma services, cardiac catheterization, renal dialysis, neurosurgery, psychiatric services and rehabilitative medicine, according to the hospital’s Web site.
But part of being a successful hospital is not just relying on the patients that get brought in, but in doing more to lure patients for special services that make Elmhurst Hospital Center competitive with the private healthcare providers in the borough.
This spring the hospital will premiere its new six-story, 22,400-square-foot cancer center next door to the current building. This state-of-the-art facility will have cutting-edge equipment, including a 64-slice CAT scan and brachytherapy suite which is right next door. The hospital will be able to provide a wellness center, cancer screening services including mammography, colonoscopy, endoscopy and chemotherapy services as well as a day care center on other floors.
The new site will also give hospital workers a place to leave their children- in a new child acre facility for employees and the public.