Pearsall's Books

This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Photoblog: A Long Walk On An Ugly Day

Yesterday I set out from my home in Astoria, Queens on a long walk. The weather was a sort of weak drizzle, which, although unpleasant, was quite good for capturing the Sunday desolation of the rather gloomy industrial areas I was (mostly) wandering though. My original plan was to walk down through Brooklyn and over the Williamsburg Bridge to Delancey Street in Manhattan. From there the plan was to walk up through the Lower East Side and the East Village to Union Square, where I would get the train home. Unfortunately, the battery on my digital camera died when I got to Williamsburg, so I only got about half of the distance covered. Still, it was a pretty reasonable walk, taking around an hour and a half to get to New York City's main nexus of hipsterism.

As ever, click on the thumbnails for a larger version of the picture.

After leaving home I stopped in at the corner deli at Broadway and Crescent Street to pick up a bottle of water(L) before continuing up Broadway, where I took the picture on the right of 'Freddy's Street Meat' (as it's known), at the corner of Broadway and 30th Street.

In Queens the N and W trains run overground as they head up 31st Street through Long Island City and Astoria to the end of the line at Ditmars Boulevard.

As you walk down 31st Street from Astoria into Long Island City the neighborhood becomes steadily less residential and more industrial, such that on a Sunday it's really empty (l). There are still a fair amount of people around, as you can see from the poster for a Brazilian evangelical church on the right.

These are two more pictures from 31st Street. On the left is a little sign on the front yard of an abandoned house at the corner of 38th Avenue. The Coptic Church on the right is by the corner of 39th Avenue.

31st Street brings you straight to Queens Plaza, a traffic-swamped no-man's land, where the Queensboro Bridge belches out its cargo into a maze of junctions, where Jackson Avenue, Queens Boulevard, Northern Boulevard, 21st Street, and 31st Street all meet.

Queens Plaza is not just busy at ground level. Several stories above your head the entire area is covered in a metal latticework that supports the N, W, and 7 trains as they arrive and depart from Queensboro Plaza station.

On the far side of Queens Plaza from 31st Street is Jackson Avenue, where you can finally see the Citibank Tower (L) shimmering like a spaceship in the distance. It's a pretty incongruous sight when set against the rather grimy street-level reality of Long Island City (r).

Walking down Jackson Avenue is a curious experience, taking you from the light industrial grime with which the area has long been associated (L) through the area's relatively recent shoots of gentrification (R).

At the junction of Jackson Avenue and 14th Street I crossed the street to the Pulaski Bridge, which runs over the canal that separates Brooklyn from Queens and provides superb views across the East River to Manhattan.

On the other side of the bridge is the heavily Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, which is happily tidy and residential after the deserted industrial gunkiness that is (most of) Long Island City.

I lived for a time in Greenpoint, so I swung by my old building on Franklin Street and took a picture (R).

Between Greenpoint and Williamsburg, which are both fairly bustling residential neighborhoods, there's an industrial buffer zone which is pretty busy during the day but completely deserted and wildly creepy by night. When I lived in Greenpoint I'd often go to Williamsburg to have a drink or hang out with my cousin Ben, and I'd always get mega paranoid walking through this bit on my way home.

The other barrier between the two neighborhoods is McCarren Park, which gets really busy on nice summer days, with families, barbecues, ball games, and general hanging out. This was not one of those days, as you can see from the shot of the tennis courts on the left. Once you are past the park you are in the North Side of Williamsburg, the center of all that is hip(ster) in New York today, a huge agglomeration of artists, musicians, and hangers-on. Galleries, bars, restaurants, concerts, exhibitions, boutiques, questionable hairstyles, drug habits - its all here. Over the last couple of years it has been slowly beginning to break up as the yuppies begin to move in and rents shift upwards. The pic on the right was taken at the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 7th Street, where the L train gets out. Unfortunately, this was the point at which the battery on my camera died, thus prematurely ending my walk.

|| RPH || 4:51 AM || |