Last week, I spent a few days scouting the College Point neighborhood of Queens. As I drove down 15th Ave, I happened to notice the gas station at the corner of 126th Street.
It’s a pretty neat little 1950s-style service station…
…but what caught my eye was the neon sign in the window that said “Established 1868.”
As the day went on, I couldn’t stop wondering how or why a gas station would have been founded in 1868. Finally, curiosity got the better of me, and I drove back to check it out.
As I headed inside, I noticed a sign over the door: “Farrington’s Service Station – Five Generations Since 1868.”
That would explain the old-fashioned car on one side…
But why were they also advertising as a “Practical Horseshoer”??
I went into the little office…
…where a wall of photographs had all the answers I was looking for about Farrington’s 145-year-old service station.
Had you been standing at the corner of 126th Street and 15th Ave in the 1870s…
This is what you would have seen:
Farrington’s was started by one John Farrington as a horseshoer/blacksmith’s shop in 1868. In the picture above Farrington is the second in from the right with the mustache. I think he’s also the man below on the left:
Today, a drawing of John Farrington hangs in the service station office…
…as does a framed collection of actual horseshoes from the Farrington blacksmith shop, chromed for posterity.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get in touch with the Farrington family to get more details on the history, but it appears that the farrier shop (technical term for someone dealing in horse hooves) transitioned into an auto service station sometime in the early 1900s. Note the beautiful globe lamps and and old pumps:
Near the end of the Depression, the original building was torn down (note that the pumps have changed style)…
And a new one put up in its place (I know there must be some car lovers out there who can identify the rough year of this picture!).
Pictured below are two members of the Farrington family who continued to run the garage – George Farrington on the far left, and William (Bill) second from left.
In fact, William can be seen as a child in one of the blacksmith pictures, held on a horse by John Farrington. When you consider the changes between the two pictures, it’s frankly mind-boggling (also, note the two horse insignias on the building, now featured on the service station’s sign):
At some point later, the station switched from Sinclair to Gulf – note the change yet again in pump-style:
And that brings us to today. Sadly, George Farrington passed away just a few weeks ago on February 14, just 8 days short of his 84th birthday. He lived his entire life in College Point.
For all of its incredible 145-year run, Farrington’s has been in the business of transportation maintenance and repair, dating to a time when said transportation ran on oats instead of gas. Could Farrington’s be the oldest family-owned service station in New York City? I’m going out on a limb to say it is – someone prove me wrong!