Goodbye yellow brick road

Photo courtesy of Thomas Curry

Somewhere under the asphalt, bricks are yellow.

That somewhere is in Woodhaven, where a routine repaving revealed a long-buried patch of yellow bricks.

And while this yellow brick road leads to Jamaica Avenue rather than the Emerald City,  it offers a glimpse of Belgian bricks that once covered most of Woodhaven and other parts of New York City.

Woodhaven resident Thomas Curry noticed that yellow bricks were peeking out of 88th Street near Park Lane South in June.

“When they ripped up the streets to repave last week – they revealed the old Belgian Blocks that the streets in Woodhaven once had,” he wrote on Facebook. “Follow the yellow brick road.”

According to Forgotten New York, a blog about New York City’s history, these bricks were used for many streets before blacktop roads substituted them in the 1940s. The bricks can still be found in places like DUMBO and the South Street Seaport.

In a picture taken during the 1940s of Schmidt’s Candy Shop, which is still around, Belgian blocks can be seen on Jamaica Avenue with trolley car tracks.

“All of Woodhaven used to be covered in those bricks. I wish it was like that now,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Historical and Cultural Society. “Or that they could be kept somehow. But then I guess bricks like that pose their own problem especially in the winter when you try to plow the area.”

Wendell said he saw the yellow bricks and noted that every so often the tornado of progress reveals Woodhaven’s history.

“The best is when a business closes and a new owner takes the building and removes the awning of the old business,” he said. “That’s when you get to see the original signage of whatever the building originally was and for a second Woodhaven is taken back to an earlier time.”


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