In 1894, the Long Island Electric Railway was incorporated for the purpose of building and operating street railways in Queens County (at that time Queens County included all of present-day Nassau County), and the first route began operating in 1896 from the Kings County Elevated Railroad station at the Brooklyn city line to downtown Jamaica. In the following year service had been extended along present-day Guy R. Brewer Boulevard to Far Rockaway, and along Jamaica Avenue to 212th Street.

In 1899 the Long Island Electric was purchased by the New York & North Shore Railway Company, a subsidiary of the New York & Queens County Railway Company - then the largest street railway operator in Queens. However, the company eventually faltered. In 1902, the original route of the New York & North Shore (Flushing-to-Jamaica along present-day 164th Street) was sold at foreclosure to the New York & Queens County, and the New York & North Shore changed its name back to the Long Island Electric the following year.

The last section of track to be built by the company was a short one-mile extension from 212th Street to the city line on Hempstead Avenue at Belmont Park, this track was placed into service during 1904.

In 1906, August Belmont, president of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and a director of the Long Island Rail Road, announced that he had acquired a controlling interest in the Long Island Electric; half of his interest in the company was transferred to the Interborough Rapid Transit, and the other half to the Long Island Consolidated Electric Companies, a subsidiary of the Long Island Rail Road.

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