Riding under the BQE (Gowanus Expressway) I pulled off to catch a shot of this beat up old El Camino. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, when you explore under an overpass you are bound to find a different world. Trash, beat up cars, graffiti, homeless people, people drinking, construction; a little bit of the grit and grime that left the rest of the city long ago. Fun for a photographer, not so fun when you are walking home by yourself late at night.
I admit: I have a love-hate relationship with the Prospect Expressway. I know Sufjan Stevens already got dibs on the BQE, but I would be more than happy cursing and praising the Expressway while I’m hula hooping in the South Slope.
The majority of my hate (or serious dislike, since we’re all about the love here) stems from living next to the Expressway three stories up from the traffic below. Its lovely dim roar was a kind of post-apocalyptic urban lullaby from which I could never escape. It also afforded beautiful views of Manhattan and the Empire State Building… as long as you could drown out the noise.
On the flip side, because the city knew what a grand gesture it was to split the South Slope up with a massive highway in the 1950′s, they planted a beautiful series of parks which line the Expressway with benches and picnic tables and trees and dog runs and small community gardens. Whew.
And lots of nice walking paths. I love them especially.
Check out a map here to see how these 15 small parks are laid out. And do yourself a favor next time you’re in the neighborhood — Take a walk, even if it’s nighttime!
[ed. note - Thanks to the fine folks at Brownstoner for featuring this shot. I learned from one of the commenters that the dog run along this stretch of the Expressway is unofficial, but there is a petition out to get it recognized by the city. If you're so inclined, sign it here!]
This weekend marked the seventh annual Open House New York celebration, which grants public access to many architecturally-significant and culturally interesting landmarks in the NYC area not otherwise open often (or ever, in some cases). The program this year featured loads of really exciting tours, many of which sold out in advance.
I opted to try and grab tickets for the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel tour, and to my good fortune, I was able to reserve two spots before it sold out. The tour takes you down below the street level into the world’s oldest subway tunnel, which was lost for decades until a man named Bob Diamond rediscovered its location in 1980. After excavating the tunnel and trying (without success) to petition the city government to put it to good re-use, Diamond founded an organization to lead tours, preserve its history, and promote the tunnel as a fascinating historical landmark in New York city history. Check out his organization’s website (and full history of the tunnel) here.
I can heartily recommend the tour, which they give monthly, and with plenty of excitement, I brought my tripod and a flashlight. Check out my Open House photos and captions below!
My neighbors up the block have been growing wheat all summer in their front yard. While I’m mildly surprised on a regular basis by all the things I see in my neighborhood, this one takes the cake for this week. I’m just waiting until someone is out there, threshing the grains with old farm tools and grinding them into flour out on the sidewalk.
I really wouldn’t be that surprised.