It’s easy to tell if you’re dealing with a Queens address–there’s the hyphenated street number and the variety of numbered thoroughfare names (Street, Place, Road, Avenue, Lane, Terrace). The really hard part, however, is actually getting to that address in Queens, especially if you’re a resident from another borough to whom it feels like trying to maneuver your way in another country where you don’t know the language. But instead of continuing to find ourselves lost, we decided to get to the bottom of this complicated system.
Prior to the consolidation of New York City in 1898, what is now known as the borough of Queens was only a hodgepodge of unconnected towns, each of which had its own road system and addresses. Once the towns were combined into one borough, having multiple road systems was becoming a hindrance to fast-growing Queens. So by 1911, the borough hired engineer Charles U. Powell to replace the old systems with a carefully planned grid system.