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Queens Chronicle

When 69th St. was Fisk Avenue

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:30 am

Woodside Avenue may be the main artery that goes through its namesake neighborhood, but it’s hardly the only storied street in town.

The main cross street in Woodside is 69th Street, a wide strip known for many years under its original name, Fisk Avenue. The thoroughfare runs through Maspeth and Jackson Heights too.

The name Fisk derived from the inventor Almond Dunbar Fisk, who invented the first metallic burial coffins. Fisk opened a coffin foundry near 50th Avenue and 69th Street to be near the railroad station then called Winfield Junction to make it easier to ship the coffins.

The coffin business closed in 1888 and the Winfield Junction railroad station closed in 1929.

In the 1930s the street was home to a Fisk Garage, Fisk Shoe Repair and the Fisk movie theater, at No. 68-02. The Fisk theater originally opened around 1915 as the Apollo Theater, but owners Lou Goldberg and Jacob Weinberg changed the name in 1936 so as to avoid confusion with the Apollo in Manhattan.

How things change. When this photo was taken in 1939, as part of a survey for the taking of land to build the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Queens telephone directory listed 90 theaters in the borough. The vast majority are gone. The last mention of the Fisk Theater was in the 1940 Queens telephone directory.

Today a triangle-shaped building exists in the Fisk’s old corner location, showing how the lot was probably sliced up for the service road for the new expressway. Another casualty of progress in the ever-changing borough of Queens.

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