How long does it take to change the name of a post office?
To take down the lettering of the old name and replace it with the lettering of the new name warrants several hours, if the workers take their time.
But in the case of the Kew Gardens Hills post office, changing the name did not take hours but decades.
On Monday afternoon, U.S. Rep Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) joined other local politicians in officially unveiling the name of the post office at 75-23 Main St.
The office, known as "Station C Post Office" since its inception, was renamed "The Kew Gardens Hills Post Office."
"It may not seem like much, but for some in the community it has been a life labor," Weiner said.
No one at the gathering could give an exact age of the brick post office, although estimates on the date of its opening ranged from 1939 to the early 1950s.
While most post offices in the borough took the name of their neighborhoods, "Station C" joined two other offices of its kind, said Bill Rogers, postmaster of Flushing. "Station A" was based in downtown Flushing and has since closed. "Station B" still exists and is located at 164th Street and Station Road in Flushing.
But the "Station B" name has not been as controversial as its Kew Gardens Hills counterpart.
Over the years, the name of the post office became symbolic of the identity crisis of Kew Gardens Hills.
The neighborhood's postal code, 11367, is called Flushing, also a cause for concern. For a while, residents were even unsure of the name of their own neighborhood.
Michael Sidell, current vice president of the Kew Gardens Hills Community Council, said the neighborhood was called both "Kew Garden Hills" and "Kew Gardens Hills" when he moved there in the 1970s.
He had to consult a historic map to find out that Kew Gardens Hills was the correct name, and afterward he spread the word to his neighbors.
Sidell said he had notified the post office about the name three decades ago.
"My fight started 30 years ago when I sent a letter," Sidell said. "At the time, I got a response basically saying, 'What, are you crazy?'"
At the time, Sidell was told that changing the name of a post office required congressional legislation and simply was too difficult. Those who brought up the matter over the years got the same response.
But recently, Weiner took another look at the issue. He learned from Rogers that legislation was required only if a station was being named after a person, and the congressman managed to convince the post office to OK the change.
The ceremony was well attended by Queens politicians. In addition to Weiner, state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) also showed up.
"The name now actually reflects this community," Stavisky said. "As far as I know, there is no geographic location known as 'Station C.'"
No one in Kew Gardens Hills was particularly happy with the old name, those gathered said.
Weiner said "Station C" sounded like "a place where the Martians landed in New Mexico."
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.
©2003 Community News Group