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Transportation and Services

Throughout its history Great Neck was valuable because of its proximity to New York City. Various transportation projects bridged the gap, beginning in 1866 when the Flushing Northside Railroad was extended from Flushing to Great Neck. In the 1870s and 1880s Queens Boulevard (Jericho Turnpike) and Northern Boulevard were widened and paved and extended to Nassau County. These changes spurred investors and speculators to buy land in the rural hamlet. While some built grand estates, others waited in the wings.

At the same time the train lines brought weekend visitors from the city, eager to enjoy the fresh air and to see the celebrities who settled in Great Neck. Supporting the economy that catered to the new residents and estate owners were immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, some of who lived in modest workers houses near the train lines, while others commuted by train and trolley car.

To accommodate the new workers and residents, a wood-frame station stop was built in 1883 and renovated in 1893. There was a turntable that enabled the train to then return to New York City. As the village grew, new facilities were needed, a demand made by locally prominent investors such as William Barstow and William R. Grace.

A New York Times article from July 1924 asked for bids on new station buildings in Great Neck and Manhasset, with construction scheduled to be completed by November 1, 1924. This station remains the central focus of the Village’s commercial downtown. It was designated a Village landmark in 2005. In 1935 the tracks were lowered to eliminate the grade crossing, and a pedestrian bridge along Middle Neck Road was constructed with the help of the William Barstow family.

By 1914 the peninsula’s population was approximately 5,000. To accommodate the new residents the telephone company established a Great Neck office. After the 1920s building boom, led by the Wychwood apartments and Westminster Hall, was completed, a new switching station was needed. In 1929 the New York Telephone Company broke ground for its new offices. The Art-Deco site reflected the latest architectural style with an ornamental brick façade and decorative roof with glazed windows. The building was completed in 10 months, and opened in March 1930. It employed 30 women operators and a small staff that oversaw the equipment. Today the entire facility is fully mechanized. The building, owned by the Verizon corporation, was designated a Village landmark in 2005.

Throughout the Village were numerous automobile showrooms and service businesses, ranging from Tower Ford to the Cadillac Showroom on Middle Neck Road. The Squire theatre was originally part of the Cadillac dealership until 1935 when the theatre was created. Throughout the Village were several auto service enterprises including garages and blacksmith shops. Their styles ranged from ornate Art Deco buildings to Tudor Revival, reflecting the popular architectural styles of their time.

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