Oct 31 2016

Update: Mystery Foto #44 Solved: The Hollis Court Boulevard Motor Parkway Bridge in 1940

Frank Femenias provided another Mystery Friday Foto of our favorite parkway.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the location and orientation of the photo

Hollis Court Boulevard (now Hollis Hills Terrace) looking north from Union Turnpike.

  • Identify the Motor Parkway bridge. Provide a rationale.

The potential four options based on their design were all located in Queens. With the exception of the Winchester Boulevard Bridge, they are all standing and functioning as part of the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway:

73rd Avenue Motor Parkway Bridge

Hollis Court Bouleard (Hollis Hills Terrace) Motor Parkway Bridge

Rocky Hill Road (Springfield Boulevard) Motor Parkway Bridge

Winchester Boulevard Motor Parkway Bridge

The caption for the Mystery Foto (see below) confrmed the bridge is the Hollis Hills Court Boulevard Bridge.

  • Identify the automobile.

Possibly a 1940 Ford or Lincoln.

  • What year was the photo taken?

The photo was dated 1940.  Since the Queens Midtown Tunnel opened on November 15, 1940 (see below) and the sign was in placed on Union Turnpike, the photo was likely taken from November 15, 1940 to December 31, 1940.

Congrats to Joe Osterle, Mitch Kaften, Tom Lanzillotti, Alan W. and Roy Warner for correctly identifying the location. Kudos to Sam Berliner III, Roy Warner and Michael Dickson for dating the Mystery Foto based on the Queens Midtown Tunnel sign.

Update 11/1/2016: Dave Russo added current photos of the bridge.


Howard Kroplick


A 1940 Ford

Femenias' Findings (Submitted by Frank Femenias)

Then 1940: The original photo

Now 2016:The same view as seen today. The Motor Parkway bridge is hidden behind the trees.

A closer look.

Aerial March 26, 1941

The star marks the location where the Mystery Foto was taken.

Then 2008

Today 2016 (Submitted by Dave Russo)

Queens Midtown Tunnel (Photos courtesy of MTA Archives)

President Franklin Roosevelt broke ground for the Queens Midtown Tunnel on October 2, 1936. The workers who carved the tunnel 10 stories below th East River were known as sandhogs. As seen in this December 28, 1938 photo, they often had to be treated for decompression sickness in specialized chambers. The sandhogs were paid $11.50 per day, equivalent to $196 per day today.

On November 8, 1939, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia stood beside Peggy Ann MacDonald, the daughter of the tunnel's builder and pulled a switch that set off dynamite clearing the last six feet of rock betwen the Manhattan and Queens sides of the tunnel.

Construction progress in the north tunnel on February 21, 1940.

The ceiling being installed in March 1940.

Cars lining up to enter the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The original toll was $0.25, today it is $8 and $5.54 using the EZ Pass.

The opening of tunnel was front page news on November 15, 1940.

Women officiers reporting to their first day of work on April 14, 1943.  They replaced men who were fighting World War II. After the war, all the women were replaced by men.


Oct 27 2016 Joe Oesterle 11:44 PM

Hollis Ct Blvd, looking north from Union Tpke.
Don’t know the car or the year.

Oct 28 2016 Mitch Kaften 8:31 AM

Union Turnpike and Hollis Court Boulevard?

Oct 28 2016 Tom Lanzillotti 12:06 PM

Of course, it’s Hollis Court Blvd looking North from Union Turnpike. Make that first right and it’s Richland Avenue where I lived most of my life. It’s all Korean now :-( lol

Oct 28 2016 AlanW 6:25 PM

This appears to be the intersection of Hollis Hills Terrace and Union Turnpike looking northward,familiar to me from riding my bike through the neighborhood - and along the Motor Pkwy - and from letting my son practice driving in the area (it’s the road test site).Judging from the car and the road conditions it would seem to be a 1930’s scene. Car a Pontiac(?)

Oct 28 2016 Tim Ivers 8:43 PM

Looking west at LIMP 73rd Ave. bridge (Black Stump Rd.) from Francis Lewis Blvd.
About 1941
1940 Ford

Oct 29 2016 Daniel Timothy Dey 1:39 AM

I’m going to take a wild guess and say 73rd Street west of the bridge. The existing bridge is still built the same way. There’s also a Queens-Midtown Tunnel sign on the corner for eastbound traffic, which I’d like to think is 188th Street, but that’d be too far west, and the car is an early-1940’s Ford.

Oct 29 2016 Greg O. 5:58 PM

I’m guessing this is the long-gone second Winchester Blvd bridge (built in ‘31) looking North up Winchester from Union Tpke.
Unsure of the automobile, but I’m guessing again here on the date as sometime in the early 40’s.

Oct 30 2016 S. Berliner, III 1:03 AM

Easy one (I theenk).  1926 73rd Avenue bridge looking west from Francis Lewis Blvd. towards the “swoop” that’s still there.  See my LIMP Queens page 1, <http://sbiii.com/limp-qn1.html>, and specifically the same view I shot on 16 May 2002, <http://sbiii.com/limppix/mp199pk6.jpg>.  1940-41 Lincoln?  Hate these fuzzy pix!  Queens Midtown Tunnel (sign) opened 15 Nov 1940, so sometime thereafter.  Sam, III

Oct 30 2016 Roy Warner 10:05 AM

1.  I think it’s the Parkway Bridge over, what was then, Hollis Court Boulevard; I grew up in Fresh Meadows from 1953 on. However, my first inclination was Horace Harding Blvd. But, based upon the westbound Tunnel sign, this has to be wrong because the Parkway Bridge that it shown would then have been on the northbound side of Horace Harding.
2.  The orientation is looking north from the intersection of Hollis Court Blvd. and Union Turnpike.
3.  I don’t know the make of the car.
4.  I think the picture was taken between the end of 1940 until the start of the war. Regardless, it was taken during the winter.
5.  Rationale. The Queens-Midtown Tunnel opened in 1940. The cross street that is shown has a small concrete median, which was the way Union Turnpike looked at the time; the extension of Union Turnpike from it’s intersection with Homelawn St. and, what was then, Fresh Meadows Lane, started in the mid ‘30s as a WPA project.

Oct 30 2016 Dick Gorman 6:27 PM

I believe it is Long Island Motor Parkway Rocky Hill Road (Springfield Boulevard) Bridge in Queens. The car looks like a 1940 Studebaker to me. I can’t really date the photo.

Oct 30 2016 Steve Lucas 8:24 PM

I think the photo was taken from a few feet south of Union Turnpike looking north along Rocky Hill Road (Springfield Blvd.) with the Rocky Hill Road bridge in the background. It looks like the road curves slightly to the left (northwest) just past the bridge which I think Springfield Blvd. still does today. Also, could that be a part of the Rocky Hill Road kiosk on the right-hand edge of the photo? That could mean the photo is from early 1941 since I believe the kiosk was removed that year. Just a guess but the car could be a 1941 Ford.

Oct 31 2016 Howard Kroplick 8:57 PM

From Michael Dickson:

I believe that this is looking at the Springfield Blvd (Rocky Hill Road) Bridge looking North from Union Turnpike in Oakland Gardens constructed in 1926.  The NYC government site has a photo that shows Union Tpk looking east from the location of Mystery Photo.  The east view I posted contains the same Type of lamp post.  Although I can’t read the state shield sign on the lamp post in your picture, I would bet it indicates NY 25C.  Union Turnpike was also known as NY 25C in the 1930s and 1940s. The sign for the Queens Midtown Tunnel is indicating Left (to the west) so the view in definitely looking North.  The Queens Midtown tunnel did not open until 1940.

I date the mystery photo to the 1940s.  Union Turnpike was widened to a dual carriage road in the mid to late 1930s as part of a WPA project and based on the Queens Midtown Tunnel Sign.  Two other similar bridges exist on 73rd Avenue, but 73rd Avenue is not a dual carriage road.  Secondly, it’s not the bridge at Hollis Court Blvd since Hollis Court Boulevard was a 30 foot wide triple slab concrete road as was Springfield Blvd south of Union Tpk until both roads were covered with asphalt when the city widened the roads in the 1950s.  The road in the mystery photo is macadam. Finally, I doubt it is the Winchester Blvd bridge since this bridge was very close to Union Turnpike

Oct 31 2016 Howard Kroplick 8:58 PM

From Michael Dickson:

I incorrectly indicated Springfield Blvd in the first picture. It is Union Tpk, 25C looking east toward the Grand Central Parkway and Creedmore.  Cambridge Hall Apartments are at the location in the right side of the photo from the 1930s, during the Union Tpk widening project in the 30s.

Oct 31 2016 Michael Dickson 10:13 PM

Hi Howard, I was quite surprised to learn that was taken from Hollis Court Blvd as the road is clearly macadam and Hollis Court Boulevard is a 30 foot concrete roadway.  If you look at the NYC Archives Records with the following hyperlink, you will see the picture.  I don’t doubt the correctness of the response being the 73rd ave bridge, but how does one explain the macamized surface of hollis court blvd (as opposed to concrete) in the photo?



From Howard Kroplick

Michael, excellent point. The caption in the photo is very clear and indicates it is associated with additional parcels to Cunningham Park.


Nov 01 2016 frank femenias 2:26 PM

Those Midtown Tunnel construction photos are amazing; what a massive project it was to build.

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