Cool Car Spotting: Maspeth/Woodside Edition


    Saturday last, I conducted a walking tour along the Brooklyn and Maspeth borders, and afterwards decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking back home to Astoria. My path carried me along the fence line of Mt. Zion cemetery (Maurice Avenue side) toward Tyler Avenue, where I made a left.

    Just look at what was waiting for me to notice it when I turned onto Tyler – a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, which I believe to be the P15 model.

    Man alive, I love Queens.


    Mount Zion, for those of you who don’t know it, is a Jewish Cemetery in Maspeth. It’s bordered by the Roman Catholic New Calvary Cemetery on 58th Street, by the LIE on the 54th Avenue side, and Tyler Avenue on the north. There’s a pocket of municipal infrastructure – a large Sanitation Department complex (the smokestacks to the right in the shot above) and some sort of NYPD facility as well.

    North of Tyler there’s a few really attractive residential blocks full of one and two story homes found in the 60’s between 51st and 48th avenues. I cannot definitively say whether or not this area is Woodside or Maspeth, I’m afraid. I did ask a USPS mail carrier that I ran into, and despite being puzzled about my query, stated that the area was in Woodside. That would define the border of Maspeth, I guess, as Tyler Avenue?

    According to the inestimable Kevin Walsh, who is the highest possible authority on such matters – the border between the two communities is disputed. If you have an opinion on this weighty matter, let us know in the comments section below.


    Mount Zion Cemetery encompasses an area of 78 acres. This cemetery is located in Maspeth, Queens near the Manhattan Border. When this cemetery was first established the surrounding area was considered to be rural. There was an ongoing need for burial spaces to accommodate the explosion of the immigrant population in not only Queens, but also the nearby neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mount Zion Cemetery has more than 210,000 burials on its 78 acres making it one of the more interesting burial grounds.


    There was a “For Sale” sign in one of the rear windows. It stated that the car had a 350 Chevy engine and promised it to “run strong.” There were a number of cosmetic issues with the thing, the paint in particular was garish and badly weathered, and there seemed to be a lot of chrome missing. There should be a big silver Plymouth logo at the center of the engine hood, and restored versions of this car which I’ve seen show chromium piping contouring from the hood all the way back to the rear fenders.


    The new cars rode a longer wheelbase, yet were 4-3/16 in shorter overall than the P15 they replaced. This “larger on the inside, smaller on the outside” concept was again blamed on Chrysler’s president. “The American motorist is tired of having his hat knocked off every time he gets in or out of a car,” wrote Wayne Whittaker in the April 1949 issue of Popular Mechanics, before quoting Keller directly: “As far as design goes we wanted to build an outstanding car, a car that is easy to get into and get out of, that is easy to garage, to handle in traffic or when parking. The outsides of our new cars are actually sculptured around conditions prescribed for the inside.”


    Conversely, this is a 65 year old magenta/purple Plymouth Special Deluxe which is still operational, and casually parked next to a cemetery in Queens.

    Sometimes people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’m going to walk from Maspeth to Astoria, suggesting I take the bus instead. How can you see anything that Queens wants to show you from a bus?

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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