Street Fight Round Two: What’s with All the Broadways in the Outer Boroughs?

Posted On Mon, January 26, 2015 By

Posted On Mon, January 26, 2015 By In Features, History, Transportation

Broadway in Brooklyn via wallyg via photopin cc

Last week we took a look at why there are three Broadways in Manhattan–the thoroughfare proper, East Broadway and West Broadway– and learned that Broadway actually extends through the Bronx and into Westchester. There’s even a one-block street in Harlem called Old Broadway. As if that weren’t enough confusion, though, there are four other Broadways in the outer boroughs–one in Brooklyn, one in Staten Island, and two in Queens.

Broadway in Brooklyn

Let’s start with Brooklyn, where Broadway runs from the East River in Williamsburg southeast to East New York. The 4.32-mile stretch first appeared when Williamsburg was an independent city, which it existed as between 1827 and its incorporation into the borough of Brooklyn in 1855. Beginning in the 1830s, Broadway was called South 7th Street from the East River to South 6th Street, and from there to its terminus it was known as Division Avenue, which separated Williamsburg from the town of Bushwick.

Broadway Ferry, WilliamsburgView of the Broadway Ferry and el in the 1920s via Mellow One’s

After being renamed Broadway, the street was the main drag in Williamsburg, lined with mansions that were home to the Vanderbilts, Pratts and Havemeyers. In the early 19th century, the Broadway Ferry was constructed between Brooklyn, at the East River end of Broadway, and Manhattan. By the 1860s, the ferry was carrying over 200,000 passengers per day and connected to the elevated rapid transit system in 1889, making Broadway the main commercial area of Williamsburg.

Broadway in Brooklyn, Kings County Savings Bank, Williamsburg Savings BankKings County Savings bank on the corner of Broadway with the Williamsburg Savings Bank down the street, photo via wallyg via photopin cc

Today, only the section of Broadway between Kent Avenue and the Williamsburg Bridge plaza is not shrouded by an elevated train platform. Some of the notable structures and establishments along the street are Peter Luger Steakhouse (built in 1876), the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, and the Kings County Savings Bank.

Broadway in Queens

Over in Queens, Broadway runs from the East River in Ravenswood southeast to the center of Elmhurst. It’s made up of several now-extinct roads, including Ridge Road in Ravenswood, the colonial-era Hellgate Ferry Road which connected Elmhurst and the East River, and Woodside Avenue. It’s not known exactly when they were joined to make present-day Broadway, but historic maps show that it had occurred by the 1910s.

Reformed Dutch Church of Newtown, Elmhurst QueensThe Reformed Dutch Church of Newtown via Hobo Matt via photopin cc

Queens’ Broadway starts at the popular Socrates Sculpture Park and then continues through an industrial stretch of Astoria, followed by more residential blocks. A major part of Broadway in Woodside is the Woodside Houses, a 22.3-acre complex that houses close to 4,000 people. The stretch of the street between Corona and 51st Avenue in Elmhurst is chock full of historic buildings, many dating back to the colonial-era founding of Newtown, which was first settled by the Dutch in 1652. These buildings include the Reformed Dutch Church of Newtown, an official city landmark built in 1831, St. James Episcopal Church, erected in 1734 and holding the title of Elmhurst’s oldest building, and a branch of the New York Public Library built in 1908 by Andrew Carnegie.

Broadway, Hamilton Beach

Broadway, Hamilton Beach

Out in Hamilton Beach, Queens there’s yet another Broadway, though it’s much shorter than the other in the borough. The small community borders JFK airport and is mostly comprised of dead-end blocks, Broadway being one of them. The area is commonly referred to as West Hamilton Beach, as there used to be an East Hamilton Beach that is now the site of the airport. Broadway here is lined with small single-family homes and often sees flooding as it’s surrounded by water.

Broadway in Staten Island

Broadway, Staten Island

Our final outer-borough Broadway is on Staten Island, running from Clove Road at St. Peter’s Cemetery in West New Brighton north to Port Richmond/Richmond Terrace. Historically, there were at least five different Broadways in Staten Island, but all except one were renamed in 1898 when the borough was consolidated as part of New York City. The majority of the street looks like a typical suburban thoroughfare, with one of its most popular attractions being the Staten Island Zoo.

That wraps up our tour of Broadways in the outer boroughs. Know of any fun factoids about these streets? Let us know in the comments.

[Related: Street Fight: Why Are There Three Broadways in Manhattan?]

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