Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike
|New York City Subway station (rapid transit)|
The Jamaica bound platform at Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike, with the two parts of the station name printed in reverse order on the overhead sign.
|Address||Union Turnpike & Queens Boulevard|
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
|Locale||Kew Gardens, Forest Hills|
|Line||IND Queens Boulevard Line|
|Services||E (all times) |
F (all times) <F> (two rush hour trains, peak direction)
|Transit connections|| NYCT Bus: Q46, X63, X64, X68|
MTA Bus: Q10, Q37, Q60, QM18, QM21
LIRR: City Terminal Zone (at Kew Gardens)
|Platforms||2 island platforms|
|Opened||December 31, 1936|
|Former/other names||Union Turnpike–Kew Gardens|
|Passengers (2018)||7,680,149 1.7%|
|Rank||48 out of 424|
|Next east||Parsons Boulevard (express): E |
Jamaica–Van Wyck (Archer express): E
Briarwood (local): E F <F>
|Next west||75th Avenue (local): E F <F> |
Forest Hills–71st Avenue (express): E
|Next east||Jamaica–179th Street (via Queens Blvd./Hillside): E F <F> |
Jamaica–Van Wyck (via Archer): E
|Next west||Forest Hills–71st Avenue: E F <F>|
Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike (signed as Union Turnpike–Kew Gardens on overhead and entrance signs) is an express station on the IND Queens Boulevard Line of the New York City Subway. Located at Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard on the border of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, Queens, it is served by the E and F trains at all times, and the <F> train during rush hours in the peak direction. Despite the station's name, Union Turnpike forms the border between Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, and the station straddles that border, with multiple entrances located in each neighborhood.
The station opened on December 31, 1936 as the new terminal for the Independent Subway System's Queens Boulevard Line. The opening of the station brought significant growth to the adjacent communities of Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, transforming them from quiet residential communities to active population centers. Today, the station serves as a major transfer point between the subway and local buses. Bus service to eastern Queens or southern-central Queens is provided by the Q46, and the Q10 and Q37, respectively. Though the station is a through stop for the vast majority of trains, it serves as the terminal for a few E trains during the morning rush hours.
The Queens Boulevard Line was one of the first lines built by the city-owned Independent Subway System (IND), and stretches between the IND Eighth Avenue Line in Manhattan and 179th Street and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. The Queens Boulevard Line was in part financed by a Public Works Administration (PWA) loan and grant of $25,000,000. One of the proposed stations would have been located at Union Turnpike. A map from June 1925 shows a proposed alternate routing for the Queens Boulevard Line, that would have had the line turn via Kew Gardens Road after the Union Turnpike station instead of continuing via Queens Boulevard. After proceeding via Kew Gardens Road the line would have turned via Hillside Avenue. If this route were used, then Kew Gardens Road would have had to been widened to accommodate the four track line. This alternate routing would have provided for better access to Richmond Hill. In 1930, in anticipation of growth due to the building of the Queens Boulevard Line, several blocks of land along Queens Boulevard were rezoned so that fifteen-story apartment buildings could be built.
On December 31, 1936, the IND Queens Boulevard Line was extended by eight stops, and 3.5 miles (5.6 km), from its previous terminus at Roosevelt Avenue to Union Turnpike. The construction of the extension to Kew Gardens brought significant growth to Queens, specifically in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. New apartment buildings were being built as a result of the subway line, and it transformed both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens from quiet residential communities of one-family houses to active population centers. Following the line's completion, there was an increase in the property values of buildings around Queens Boulevard. On April 24, 1937, the IND Queens Boulevard Line was extended four stops to 169th Street, with 169th Street and Parsons Boulevard serving as terminals.
On November 23, 1941, the Q37 bus operated by Green Bus Lines was extended to the station to provide a transfer to the subway. In the 1950s, an unfinished stairway leading to the busy Q44A bus stop at Queens Boulevard and 78th Avenue was completed. Having only one staircase had resulted in dangerous conditions.
In the 1970s, when the New York City Subway was at an all-time low, following the general trend of a decrease in ridership, the number of passengers using the Union Turnpike station decreased by 2.7 million passengers. As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)'s 1975–1981 transit program, station lighting at Kew Gardens was improved. In 1981, the MTA listed the station among the 69 most deteriorated stations in the subway system.
|B1||Mezzanine||Fare control, station agent, MetroCard vending machines |
Elevator at SE corner of Union Turnpike and Kew Gardens Road
|Southbound local||← toward World Trade Center evenings, late nights & weekends (75th Avenue)|
← toward Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue (75th Avenue)
|Island platform, doors will open on the left, right|
|Southbound express||← toward World Trade Center weekdays (Forest Hills–71st Avenue)|
|Northbound express||→ toward Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer weekdays (Jamaica–Van Wyck) →|
→ toward Jamaica–179th Street rush hours (Parsons Boulevard) →
|Island platform, doors will open on the left, right|
|Northbound local||→ toward Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer evenings, late nights & weekends (Briarwood) →|
→ toward Jamaica–179th Street (Briarwood) →
Lower level tracks
|Yard track||→ No passenger service|
|Yard track||→ No passenger service|
This express station has four tracks and two island platforms. The F train stops on the outer local tracks at all times while the E stops on the center express tracks weekdays (Manhattan-bound from approximately 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Jamaica-bound from 7:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.) and on the outer tracks at all other times. During weekdays this is the easternmost transfer point between the E and F trains before they branch off toward their eastern terminals.
The platforms have dark blue columns. Both outer track walls have a yellow tile band and small "UNION TURNPIKE" signs below them, in white lettering on black tiles.
The station is near the Queens Borough Hall, the Queens Criminal Court, and the Kew-Forest School. It is also close to the Forest Hills Tower, which has housed Plaza College since 2014 and also contains administrative offices for FEMA; it formerly housed the headquarters of JetBlue Airways and a public relations office for Con Edison, but the JetBlue office has since moved to the Brewster Building in Long Island City. At the east end of Queens Borough Hall on 82nd Avenue, a retired IRT redbird, R33 car 9075, is on display. The Redbird car was formerly a visitor center for the Queens Borough Hall, but the visitor center closed in 2015 due to low patronage, and the car is now used as a landmark and for movie shoots.
This station is unusual in that its mezzanine is split in two halves: one to the northwest of Union Turnpike, and one to the southeast. This is because Union Turnpike and the Jackie Robinson Parkway cross under Queens Boulevard at this location, but over the Queens Boulevard Line tracks. The mezzanine and the Union Turnpike underpass are on the same level, and Union Turnpike splits the mezzanine in half, with no connection between the two halves outside of fare control.
Previously a grade-level intersection, the underpass was constructed simultaneously with the subway station costing $250,000. The construction of the underpass with a subway station underneath was a massive undertaking. Three levels were required in order for the underpass and the subway station to be built. The upper level that was built was Queens Boulevard, which carries traffic east and west. The second level is an underpass that carries four lanes of Union Turnpike (and now also the Jackie Robinson Parkway) under the Boulevard. The underpass is in between the two mezzanines and it would rest atop the roof of the subway station platform.
Several stairs from street level feed down to the mezzanines. In addition, walkways are located either side of the Union Turnpike underpass, which themselves lead to the mezzanine on their respective side. A staircase at the southeastern corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, along with the street elevator, leads to the eastern walkway, which then feeds into the eastern mezzanine. A staircase at the northwestern corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard led to the western walkway, but both have been sealed and converted to employee facilities. Automobiles and buses were formerly allowed to drop off and pick up passengers along those walkways (similar to stations on the IND Concourse Line), but car access is currently blocked; this was stopped because the cars caused traffic backups. The underpass is graded east to allow for natural drainage. The lower level contains the subway tracks, which are located about 20 feet (6.1 m) below the underpass that carries the turnpike. While the open eastern walkway is blocked from the underpass with glass bricks, the closed western walkway is blocked from the underpass with a solid wall with several vents.
The eastern (railroad north) half of the mezzanine contains the station's full-time token booth. In the late 2000s, the MTA undertook a $13.9 million refurbishment of the station, which was completed in July 2008; during that time, the station was upgraded with cube-glass walls, as well as an elevator and ramp in this part of the mezzanine, which serves riders of the Q10 and Q37 buses. The elevator and ramp make the station wheelchair-accessible and compliant with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Other improvements that were part of the project included the addition of station agent booths that catered to wheelchair users, as well as new railings, station signs, station payphones, tactile yellow strips along the platforms, and platform fillings to reduce gaps between trains and platforms.
However, the western (railroad south) half, which serves riders of the heavily used Q46 bus line that runs along Union Turnpike, had its token booth closed and removed (with signage indicating asbestos condemnation). A piece of artwork, Underground Skies-Cloud Forest, that was designed by artist Krystyna Spisak-Madejczyk and architect Anna Chmura was installed in this half of the station mezzanine. This was a project of the Polish American Artist Society, and it was sponsored by the MTA Arts for Transit/Creative Stations Program.
A signal and switch tower is located at the north end of the northbound platform and is active only on weekdays.
There are two diamond crossovers near this station: one is located at the eastern end, for eastbound trains, and the other is located at the western end, for westbound trains. Each switch allow trains to cross-over between the local and express tracks in the same direction. There are two punch boxes: one is located at the eastern end of the Jamaica-bound platform, allowing trains to continue along the Queens Boulevard line to 179th Street or to switch to the IND Archer Avenue Line, and the other one is at the western end of the Manhattan bound platform allowing trains to continue along the Queens Boulevard line to Manhattan.
East of the station there is a flying junction that connects to the Jamaica Yard via a wye that curves east from the yard towards Briarwood. A second side of the wye curves west to become a lower level of the subway just west of the station. The yard itself is situated just north of the station in the southern portion of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, between the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway.
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