Queens could get its own High Line – the QueensWay, from Rego Park to Ozone Park

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Image source: Friends of the QueensWay

Fans of the High Line in Manhattan will be interested to know that Queens has its own deserted train line that is begging to be turned into a park. The tracks of the former Rockaway Beach LIRR line branch off in Rego Park, and a group of residents wants to turn a 3.5-mile stretch into a public greenway. But besides the transformation of an abandoned, elevated railway, the proposed idea for the QueensWay is quite different from the design of the High Line.

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Image source: Friends of the QueensWay

The vision for the park put forth by the Friends of the QueensWay includes a bike path, pedestrian paths, community gardens, and arts and cultural venues. The 8.45-acre space would connect to Forest Park, public transportation, and the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park. Besides providing much-needed recreational space for residents, the QueensWay would likely boost economic growth and attract visitors to this under-the-radar area of Queens.

The train tracks, which once offered New Yorkers a 30-minute ride to the Rockaways, have been out of use for 50 years. The remains of the Ozone Park station can still be seen from the A train near the 102nd Street stop, and a section of the tracks is visible in Forest Park. This line of the LIRR was in service for almost a century; eventually part of it became the A train to the Rockaways, and the rest was abandoned.

Now the leftover stretch of tracks is overgrown with trees and dotted with garbage and graffiti. To get a better sense of what it looks like, check out the photos on Untapped New York, Abandoned NYC, Forgotten New York, and TreeHugger.

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Image source: Tim Drivas on Flickr

The group pushing for the transformation of the space, the Friends of the QueensWay, is a collection of people who originally had different ideas for the space; the bicycling and community garden advocates came together to form a joint vision for the project. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization that helps communities conserve land for the public good, has teamed up with the group of residents to bring the idea to fruition.

Making it happen won’t be easy, as there are plenty of bureaucratic, political, logistical, and economic barriers to overcome. The Friends of the High Line, who had an abundance of community (and celebrity) support, worked for 10 years before seeing the first section of the park open to the public.

Currently, the Friends of the QueensWay are attempting to raise $50,000 in donations from the public to help fund a feasibility study, so that the project can gain credibility and move forward with realistic plans. This fundraising goal is only 10% of what is needed to conduct the study, which will test the structural integrity of the elevated railway and determine what can be done with the site. Besides donating, other ways to support and receive updates about the project include signing the petition on Change.org, liking the Friends of the QueensWay on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and joining their email list.

One Comment

  • I grew up on 63rd Avenue, west of Woodhaven Boulevard. It was a treat to walk to the Rego Park station, climb the stairs, and navigate over to 63rd Drive, watching the trains roaring by between Penn Station and Jamaica. Some were still pulled by steam engines in those days.
    Once a train stopped at the station, and as I watched it pull out, it disappeared around a curve that I had never known was there. Thus began my romance with the Rockaway line.
    It would be fabulous to convert the right of way to a rails-to-trails project. Your model will be the procedures used to acquire the old Brooklyn Union Gas (Elmhurst Tank) property. Those folks just didn’t give up.