You are looking at what was considered the downtown hub of Jamaica in 1916 — Washington Street and Jamaica Avenue.
At the time there were 36 Washington streets throughout the Borough of Queens. Can you imagine the problems encountered by the police department, fire department and the post office? In 1917 the name was changed to 160th Street.
Prior to 1910 Jamaica was largely known as one of the largest farmers trading markets, with goods hauled in from farms in southeastern Queens. That year the Long Island Rail Road was electrified and a strong residential area began to develop.
Shown here is one the last photographs taken shortly before the Jamaica Avenue El was built, obscuring the street in darkness for the next 60 years. The El went up quickly and cheaply and was completed in 1917. Transit buffs refer to the job as contract route M-25. The new overhead trains, running all the way to 168th Street from Brooklyn, were a big boon to the economy.
At this corner were two landmarks, the Minden House Restaurant and Daly’s Corner Restaurant. Both were torn down by 1930. Martin’s Wallpaper and Paints was dominant on the avenue. Owner Samuel Martin and his wife, Mary, lived in Jamaica Estates. Upon his death in 1942, the store was sold and developed into a large chain. The growth of the area made this photo look quaint by the 1950s, and today it is totally unrecognizable.