The 145-Year-Old NYC Gas Station That Started Out As A Blacksmith Shop

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.

001

It’s a pretty neat little 1950s-style service station…

002

…but what caught my eye was the neon sign in the window that said “Established 1868.”

003

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.

103

As I headed inside, I noticed a sign over the door: “Farrington’s Service Station – Five Generations Since 1868.”

104

That would explain the old-fashioned car on one side…

105

But why were they also advertising as a “Practical Horseshoer”??

106

I went into the little office…

107

…where a wall of photographs had all the answers I was looking for about Farrington’s 145-year-old service station.

108

Had you been standing at the corner of 126th Street and 15th Ave in the 1870s…

202

This is what you would have seen:

301

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:

301c

Today, a drawing of John Farrington hangs in the service station office…

301e

…as does a framed collection of actual horseshoes from the Farrington blacksmith shop, chromed for posterity.

301f

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:

302

Near the end of the Depression, the original building was torn down (note that the pumps have changed style)…

303

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!).

304

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.

304a

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):

304b

At some point later, the station switched from Sinclair to Gulf – note the change yet again in pump-style:

305

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.

401

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!

-SCOUT

If you enjoyed reading this post, would you consider making a donation to help me make my first movie? The goal is $30,000, and already, 1,401 generous readers have donated $30,604.00. Just $5 or $10 can make a difference - AND you get a snazzy Scouting NY sticker or magnet as a Thank-You gift! Click here to donate today!

And hey, if you've made it this far, why not follow us via RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr?

25 comments

  1. Great story. Love those old photos. History is fascinating.

  2. I’m going to say that pic is early 50s. The cars look to be accurate for that time, and the Sinclair “World’s First Anti-Rust Gasoline” ad on the wall is from around that same time.

  3. This is great! I love knowing that not all 19th century family businesses in NYC have disappeared. Even as a 4th and 6th generation New Yorker, I sometimes feel rootless here. Nice to see some roots for a change.

  4. Wonderful. Thank you very much.

  5. Janice Delaney Stearns

    Cool!! Scout – you have quite the eye to find things that others just ignore! Thank you!

  6. Great article! A pleasant photo essay to start the day. Thank you!

  7. I grew up in College Point the daughter of a 4 generation College Point family. Great to see these old photos. I remember Farrington’s very well.

  8. Love this! Thank you.
    (a little side note: few years back I got a wrong number at my apartment. The person calling asked if I was a farrier. I actually knew the term–and kind of wished I was!)

  9. Get article!!! Looks like John had to have his information re-painted due to his name being spelled wrong in the 12th picture (only one r instead of two) Love the history and love the site! Keep up the great work!!

  10. Great story!

  11. The question is not whether it’s the oldest in the city, but whether it’s the oldest in the country. Quite possibly the answer’s yes.

  12. I wonder if the family is related to Farrinton Street in Flushing

  13. I am surprised no one has made a guess on the car picture. I have National Geographics going back to the twenties and late teens. One of the staples of advertising in them is advertising for cars. I will go on a limb and say that the photo in question dates to about 1939-40. The style seems right. Any car nuts out there?

  14. The photo of the building being torn down is most likely just post WWII. The panel truck at center rear of photo is a GMC or Chevy of the style built 1948 – 1954, the fastback sedan under the street sign is also a GM body style available 1942 – 1948. Photo below shows a 1941 Packard six cylinder sedan at right and a 1940-41 Chrysler product sedan (Plymouth, DeSoto, Dodge, and some Chryslers shared the body shells).

    • Walt, I sort of figured the Chrysler body. Good call on the Packard. Fallen flag railroads, defunct cars and grounded airlines, Lots of history out there for us to track down.

      • Defunct cars have been a passion of mine for 50 years,(bought my first one in 1963)as has their history, which I have researched and written about. I love old architecture too which is why Scouting NY is just so great. Some people are “tree huggers” I am a car and building hugger!

  15. A very touching and interesting edition of Scouting NY. Nice investigative work.

    I’m guessing this pic of the teardown was 1949, maybe 48. The style of the cars with WWII era and post WWII design lure me to that date.

  16. Linda Farrington

    Hi Nick-your article was great. I am George’s daughter in law and I apologize neither son got back to you yet, but have been getting our lives back in order after George’s passing. My husband John (oldest son) would love to talk to you. Please email me and i’ll forward his cell # to you. Thank you for a lovely piece about the station, and ‘yes’ Farrington Street in Flushing (over by the bowling alley) is named after our ancestors (one of which was married to a Bowne). Decades ago the now defunct Long Island Press had also done an article on the station.

  17. Great photos, and a great story!

  18. I’ve known Linda Farrington for [censored] years, she’s my daughter!
    In the pic of 2 cars the smaller one reminds me of my father’s 1939 Plymouth and the BIG car looks like a ’38 Packard a friend owned in 1947 that he wrapped around a telephone pole. There were 4 of us in the car at the time and no one was injured…and…no seat belts back then, just 4 lucky teenagers in a car built like a tank.

  19. When I saw the NY Post take YOUR story yesterday, all I could say (after I said “I already knew that”) was – “IS NOTHING SACRED?”

    Your story is the best and has BETTER pictures. So there!!

  20. Chris Farrington

    Oh, more leads to look into :) Awesome history to see this, and more possible relatives to investigate

  21. I used to live near by. I would stare at those photos while getting my car worked on. Nice people and fascinating story! Glad you found them.

  22. Loved your pictures of our favorite service station “Farrington’s” in College Point.
    Have you seen the interior of our local landmark “Poppenhusen Institute”? It’s located at 14 Rd. and 114th Street. PoppenhusenInstitute.org. We also have great water views..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>