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Queens in the 1950s: A Photographic Journey of the Borough’s Streets, Homes, and Everyday Life

Queens in the 1950s? Imagine a place buzzing with change. It wasn’t just a part of New York City; it was a world of its own, growing and evolving every single day. From quiet neighborhoods to bustling streets, Queens was where families settled, dreams were built, and the American spirit thrived.

The 1950s saw families flocking to Queens. After the war, people wanted space, fresh air, and a place to call their own. And Queens offered just that. New homes popped up everywhere, especially in neighborhoods like Flushing, Bayside, and Jackson Heights.

Rows of tidy houses with lawns and fences became the typical sight. Kids played stickball in the streets, neighbors chatted over fences, and families gathered for barbecues on weekends. Life was simple, community-focused, and full of hope.

People from all over the world came here, bringing their traditions and customs. Greek bakeries sat next to Italian pizzerias, and Irish pubs shared streets with Jewish delis. This mix of cultures wasn’t just accepted; it was celebrated. It was common to hear different languages spoken on the street, smell exotic spices in the air, and experience a world of traditions without ever leaving the borough.

Entertainment and Leisure

Life in Queens wasn’t all work and no play. The borough offered plenty of ways to have fun. In the summer, families flocked to Rockaway Beach to soak up the sun and enjoy the cool ocean breeze. Coney Island, with its iconic amusement park, was just a subway ride away, offering thrills and excitement for all ages.

For a taste of culture, folks headed to Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. This vast green space hosted the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair and remained a popular spot for recreation, with its iconic Unisphere reminding everyone of the world’s interconnectedness.

Queens was a foodie’s paradise even back then. The diverse population meant a diverse menu. From the classic New York slice at local pizzerias to authentic Chinese dim sum in Flushing, there was something for everyone. Diners served up hearty American meals, while German beer gardens offered a taste of Europe.

Transportation and Growth

The 1950s were a time of growth for Queens, and transportation played a big role. The subway system expanded, connecting the borough to other parts of the city, and making commuting easier. Buses crisscrossed the streets, and more and more people started owning cars. This mobility meant that Queens was no longer just a bedroom community; it was a place where people lived, worked, and played.

#2 Main Street in Flushing, Queens with storefronts, buses, and shoppers, 1950s

#4 New York International Airport, commonly called Idlewild Airport but renamed John F. Kennedy International in 1963, Circa 1950s.

#5 An aerial view of Rego Park, Elmhurst, and Corona in Queens with the Long Island Expressway visible, 1957.

#6 Pedestrians, cars, buses, and delivery trucks in the 82nd Street shopping district, Jackson Heights, Queens, 1957.

#7 An aerial view across Flushing Bay to LaGuardia Airport, College Point, Queens, and the Manhattan skyline in the distance, 1950s.

#8 The lobby entrance with escalators at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens after a remodel, 1959.

#9 An aerial of Idlewild Airport, now John F. Kennedy Airport, New York terminal building, 1950s.

#10 Queensboro Bridge: II, Long Island City, Queens, looking southwest from pier at 41st Road, 1950s

#19 Astoria Boulevard and 37th Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#20 Astoria Boulevard and 37th Street, Queens, 1950s.

#23 Courtney Avenue and Auburndale Lane, Queens, 1950s.

#29 29th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, Queens, 1950s.

#36 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens, 1950s.

#39 Grand Central Parkway and Utopia Parkway, Queens, 1950s.

#40 Grand Central Parkway and Utopia Parkway, Queens, 1950s.

#42 Kissena Boulevard and Juniper Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#43 Kissena Boulevard and 64th Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#48 New York Boulevard and 109th Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#49 Northern Boulevard and Linden Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#50 Northern Boulevard and Main Street, Queens, 1950s.

#51 Northern Boulevard and Prince Street, Queens, 1950s.

#52 Northern Boulevard and 37th Street, Queens, 1950s.

#53 Northern Boulevard and 113th Street, Queens, 1950s.

#54 Northern Boulevard and 223rd Street, Queens, 1950s.

#55 Parsons Boulevard and Goethals Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#68 Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#69 Rockaway Boulevard and 94th Street, Queens, 1950s.

#72 Roosevelt Avenue and Bowne Street, Queens, 1950s.

#73 Roosevelt Avenue and Lawrence Street, Queens, 1950s.

#75 Seaside Avenue and Ocean Promenade, Queens, 1950s.

#82 Union Hall Street and Archer Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#83 Union Hall Street and Jamaica Avenue, Queens, 1950s.

#84 Van Doren Street and Horace Harding Boulevard, Queens, 1950s.

#85 View towards the west from Queensboro Plaza Station, 1950s.

#91 View from the top of the Queensboro Plaza Station towards Manhattan, 1950s.

#95 23rd Street, 24th Street and Jackson Avenue, 1950s.

#100 Desecration of tombstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York City, 1950s.

#101 Cars drive along the Belt Parkway close to Douglaston in Queens, New York, 1950s.

#102 Park Briar development at 110-45 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, 1952.

#103 Three rowboats tethered to the rear of houses in Ramblersville, Howard Beach, Queens, New York City, 1950s.

#104 High angle view of a housing development in Flushing, Queens, New York City, 1950s.

#105 A street under a blanket of snow in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, 1958.

#106 View of the International Arrivals Terminal of the New York International Airport, in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, 1959.

#107 A lone fisherman in the rain on the bank of the Flushing River in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York City, 1959.

Written by Adriana Palmer

Blogger, Editor and Environmentalist. A writer by day and an enthusiastic reader by night. Following the Jim Roh's prophecy “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”

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