What actually divides Queens and Brooklyn? There’s no great wall or border patrol to mark the line between Brooklyn and Queens. The Queens-Brooklyn border issue has been confounding the two boroughs, especially residents of Ridgewood and Bushwick, for hundreds of years.
Image source: Google Maps
Back in the day, street signs were color coded per borough, so all you had to do was look up. If the sign was blue, you were in Queens and if it was black and white, Brooklyn. Especially useful for those post-bar late night taxi rides. This was phased out in the 1980s when the city ruled all signs must be in reflective white lettering.
Image source: Forgotten NY
The border issue recently came up when Ridgewood artists were disallowed from entering the Brooklyn Museum’s GO community-curated open studio project because they had Queens zip codes, even though they consider themselves in Bushwick.
We decided to investigate further.
In 2005, Brownstoner explained that the border runs down Eldert Lane in Jamaica; the west side is Brooklyn and east is Queens. We posed the question on the Q&A site Quora, and a reader answered that the line starts at the East River, continues down Newtown Creek, Cypress Ave, Wyckoff Ave, through Highland Park, and into Jamaica Bay. Google Maps confirms the boundary.
Image source: Flickr – user georgia.kral
Turns out the border’s been marked since 1709 by a big rock at the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood. Arbitration Rock lies on the 1769 Survey Line and was buried in 1930 when the house was graded. In 2001 the rock was moved to its original site, reported Gothamist. Like the United Nations building’s extraterritoriality status, the rock still isn’t claimed by any one borough.
Image source: Flickr – user Tom Giebel
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since its original publication in 2012