Prior to the construction of Grand Central Parkway in the 1930s, Union Turnpike was heavily used, and developed businesses throughout its length. Among the landmarks found along the turnpike are Forest Park, Queens Borough Hall, St. John's University, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, and the Queens County Farm Museum. The turnpike crosses into Nassau County at the city's easternmost point, 271st Street, entering the village of New Hyde Park.
With the exception of a section in Glendale, most of Union Turnpike consists of four traffic lanes divided by a narrow concrete median. The Glendale section contains a wide mall with trees, and in Kew Gardens, the turnpike acts as a service road for the Jackie Robinson Parkway rising dramatically above the Long Island Rail Road, before dipping below Queens Boulevard. Between Kew Gardens and the city line, the Q46 bus line travels along Union Turnpike.