At the northeastern corner of the Kissena Park Golf Course is a depression in which there is a Department of Transportation garage and a pumping station. Looking at old maps of this site, Kissena Creek passed though it before the area was urbanized. Was there ever a pond here?
What was there
The earliest image that I was able to find of the old Flushing Pumping Station is the 1924 aerial survey on the DoITT NYCity Map that shows Fresh Meadow Lane passing by a collection pond with a pumping station on its shore. Kissena Creek is seen following the road and then turning west into this pond.
A closer view of the pumping station comes from the Queens Borough President’s archive that also appears in the Queens Library online collection, showing the pond in 1947. The caption describes the facility` as the former College Point Water Works Pumping Station. According to one map in the library’s archive, the land belonged to James Lawrence and was acquired by the village of College Point in 1873 for a pumping station. As the map shows, the brook had a few springs flowing into it within the property.
The 1908 Belcher-Hyde map of Queens shows the pumping station and Kissena Lake. Along with the College Point Water Works, the private Citizens Water Supply Company also collected water from Kissena Creek. The abandoned railroad running across this map is the short-lived Stewart Line that ran across central Queens from 1873 through 1879. Its route was later acquired by the city to form the Kissena Corridor, a series of connected parks running between Flushing Meadows and Cunningham Park.
The pond is gone but the former pumping station building is still there today surrounded by DOT vehicles. Prior to joining New York City, Queens County contained towns and villages within it, each with its own public and private sources of water that originated from local streams and springs. These local sources were often inadequate, polluted, salty, and foul tasting. One of the reasons why so many Brooklyn and Queens residents voted in favor of joining New York City was because of its highly praised Croton-Delaware aqueduct, which was extended to these boroughs after the 1898 consolidation.
The garage is a reminder of a time before Queens was part of New York City. Other local reminders on the map include Flushing Town Hall and the quaintly spelled Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, a former cemetery for the town’s Native Americans and blacks.
In the News:
Curbed contributor Nathan Kensinger visits the city’s hidden beaches.