Queens Boulevard, a predominantly twelve-lane thoroughfare that extends from Queens Plaza off the Queensboro Bridge to Jamaica, may not be the most illustrious of roads. It’s so functional, it’s not seen as a destination in itself. It can even be dangerous: the number of pedestrian deaths garnered it the nickname “Death Boulevard.” Between 1990 and 2017, 186 people were killed either walking or driving on Queens Boulevard. Improvements by the New York City Department of Transportation, including reducing vehicle lanes and increasing cross walk times, have reduced the frequency of incidents.
All this aside, an exploration along Queens Boulevard is in fact, particularly interesting because of its long span. It stretches seven-and-a half miles southeast traversing through the borough’s most dense areas. It is quite the demographic discovery as well, beginning in rapidly developing Long Island City through Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and ending in Jamaica.
This is not surprising, given that Queens Boulevard actually follows the path of earlier laid roads, Thomson Avenue and the Old Jamaica Road from the 18th century, that were important as travel thoroughfares in the early days of settlement in Queens.
If you are up for a discovery, perhaps achieved most efficiently by bus, or going to visit these places in batches, here are ten of our favorite finds along Queens Boulevard:
1. Center of NYC Marker
Embedded in the ground at a traffic median in Woodside, Queens along Queens Boulevard is a compass rose with the words, “The Geographic Center of NYC.” It sits mostly forgotten at the intersection of 58th Street and Queens Boulevard between a Walgreens and Calvary Cemetery, but the design seems pretty official. The cardinal directions are marked, and the number 58 seems to refer to the intersection. It would have taken some effort to get this installed. The only problem: it is NOT the geographic enter of New York City.
You can explore a previous deep dive of this marker on Untapped New York, as we attempted to ascertain the mysterious origin of this incorrect marker, which no city agency has taken credit for. In fact, we have a recent update thanks to a reader who has helped locate the metal shop on Long Island in which the marker was made, the person who made it (who has since passed away), and dates it to no earlier than 1994 due to evidence in a photo documentation he acquired.