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Queens Chronicle

To Jackson Heights and its gardens, by bus

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Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011 12:00 am

The Fifth Avenue Coach Company was founded in 1885 to benefit wealthy residents of that storied thoroughfare who did not want to use the street railway mode of transportation. The first stagecoach operations started in January 1886.

More than two decades later, entrepreneur Edward Archibald MacDougall (1874-1944) was buying up as many farms in western Queens as he could. He started in 1909 after the opening of the Queensboro Bridge and envisioned creating a beautiful city of gardens in what was then called Trans Meadow. It became Jackson Heights.

To get people out to his new development, he bought a bus line — the Fifth Avenue Coach Company. The firm obtained a permit on July 1, 1925 and on July 9 began operating Routes 15 and 16.

The 15 (now the Q32) began in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, at Madison Square Park, and traveled north on Fifth Avenue to 57th Street and the Queensboro Bridge, then along Queens Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue and 25th Street ( now called 82nd Street) and on to Northern Boulevard.

Route 16, called the Elmhurst Crosstown line, later the Q89, began on Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street and used Baxter Avenue to reach Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

Today MacDougall’s dream is landmarked from 76th to 88th streets, and is home to a diverse population including many South Asians, Hispanics and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

The area is known for its delicious food and its gay pride parade, New York’s largest outside of Manhattan.The community anxiously looks forward to the next parade, this June 5.

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