Long Island Mews

Long Island Mews

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

A British term, “mews” originally referred to stables built around a small street, and then to apartments around a small street which had been converted from such stables. Today it denotes a small residential row of houses, and this park was named Long Island Mews for its proximity to such a neighborhood and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

The LIRR was chartered by the New York State Legislature on April 24, 1834, making it the third oldest railroad in the United States. Its construction was intended to decrease the distance and time of travel between New York City and Boston by connecting Jamaica and the Greensport Harbor. The first train ran on April 18, 1836, but production ceased with only 15 miles of track completed after the collapse of the J.L. and S.I. Joseph and Company granite office building on March 15, 1837. The collapse, known as the Panic of 1837, not only affected every building on Wall Street, but the companies housed within these buildings, of which the LIRR was one.

The railroad managed to extend to Hicksville in 1837, Hempstead in 1838, and Greensport in 1844. Unfortunately, the New York, New Haven, Boston Rail Road Line was completed in 1848, creating a more efficient path to Boston, and the LIRR went bankrupt in 1850. The railroad resurfaced in 1861 with a new terminal in Hunter’s Point in Queens, and extended the line to Northport, Sag Harbor, and Port Jefferson. Hunter’s Point thrived as a result of the railroad, and the LIRR reached its peak between 1880-1914 until it gradually declined into bankruptcy again in 1965. That same year, the state gained control of the railroad and enhanced the service. By the mid-1990s, the Long Island Railroad had 350 miles of track, and was the largest commuter rail system in the nation. Today, 60,000 commuters a day, as well as thousands more during the summer months, use the railroad.

Long Island Mews rests between 51st Road, 51st Avenue, and the LIRR, and is located in the center of the Maspeth, Elmhurst, Woodside, and Sunnyside neighborhoods. The city acquired the land on November 1, 1965. In 1997, Council Member Walter McCaffrey provided $631,000 for reconstruction of the park as well as the planting of various trees and flowers, including the Kwanzan cherry, Japanese dogwood, Butterfly bush, New Jersey tea, Sweet pepperbush, Compact inkberry, Butterfly weed, Common milkweed, Dense blazingstar, Meadow blazingstar, Sky blue aster, New England aster, Black eyed Susan, Purple prairie clove, Wild bergamot, and the Stiff goldenrod. Parks named the land Long Island Mews in 1998.

Today the park holds benches, play equipment with safety surfacing, swings for tots, cast concrete urns, a drinking fountain, and a flagpole with a yardarm displaying the flags of the United States, the City of New York, and Parks & Recreation. One of the more prominent features is the butterfly animal art and pathway. The path is made of steel plates illustrating the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Moving along the path from the Northwest corner towards the flagpole, the plates read “Egg Conception,” “Caterpillar Birth,” “Molt Slumber,” “Cocoon Wonder,” and “Metamorphosis Rebirth.”

Park Information

Directions to Long Island Mews


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