Since Benji was with his grandparents this weekend, and Paula was going to be out all day having brunch with a friend and then going to rehearsal, I decided that today would be an excellent day for a very long walk.
Having walked Bedford Ave., the longest road in Brooklyn, I decided that today I’d tackle Northern Blvd., the longest road in Queens. For completeness sake, rather than just Northern Blvd. I decided to walk the entire path of New York Route 25A in the County of Queens. I have a crazy idea of walking the entire route, which goes well into Suffolk County. But not today…
NY 25A begins at 21st St., the moment it emerges from the Midtown Tunnel. Here is an illustration:
It takes a right when it gets to Jackson Ave., then proceeds down Jackson until Queens Plaza. After that, I hope you like Northern Blvd., ’cause you’re getting lots and lots and lots of it until the end of Queens and beyond…
Many long roads tell a story, but Northern Boulevard’s story is the story of the car. The pedestrian choosing this road to journey down is much abused. As it meanders along the northern edge of the Sunnyside Train Yard, the senses are assaulted by row after row of car dealerships shouting for attention. The offspring of these dealerships whiz by on the generously apportioned four-lane road. It is not until one crosses the BQE and enters Jackson Heights that the road becomes a little more sane and New York-like.
The Jackson Heights story is an immigrant’s story. While the neighborhood is famous for its Indian and Pakistani population, the Northern Blvd. area is heavily Hispanic. It was here that I stopped for a yummy treat called a Cholado. It’s basically crushed ice, fruit syrup, sweet condensed milk, and lots of fresh fruit. It was refreshing and nutritious and exactly what I needed on a not particularly hot but oppressively humid day.
Then, as I’ve documented before when I tried to walk the length of Astoria Blvd., you hit the Citi Field area, and Northern Blvd. becomes a vehicle-only limited access highway for a bit, so I had to make a detour down to Roosevelt Ave. and walk by Citi Field. Willet’s Point seemed to be bustling today for some reason. I did not investigate why. I was on a mission.
The Flushing story is an immigrant’s story. While the neighborhood is famous for its Chinese population, the Northern Blvd. area is heavily Korean. It was here that I stopped for a yummy treat called Bubble Tea. You all know what bubble tea is, so I can stop pretending I just cut and pasted from the paragraph above. Seriously, though, I never knew how Korean Flushing was until my trip down Northern Blvd. today. The Korean signs decreased in density, but I’d say that there was at least one Korean language sign per block all the way out to Bayside.
After Flushing I reach Terra Incognita. Which is New York speak for “there’s no subway here.” The world suddenly becomes more suburban. The streets of Bayside would not look out of place in any moderately urban suburb, with strip malls, parking, and houses on their own lots. Then, I cross the border between Bayside and Douglaston: Alley Pond Park. I was treated to this unexpected sight:
If it weren’t for the building far in the background, it’d seem almost wild.
I soldiered on knowing the end, or at least my arbitrary end meaning the city line, was near.
Glancing on the side streets of Douglaston and Little Neck, there are hints of cul-de-sac’ed wealth that I’m not used to seeing in New York City. I mean, there’s certainly wealth in New York, but usually it’s shown ostentatiously in Manhattan, rather than secluded in Queens. The area became woodsy, and downright pleasant for a time.
Then, after six-and-a-half hours of constant walking, I saw it. The promised land, to which I would briefly escape as my ancestors before me did considerably more permanently… Nassau County! Not the end of the road, but the end of the road in the city.
After customarily smacking the sign, I turned right around, got a piece of pizza, and sat exhaustedly on the Q12 bus heading back to Flushing. Upon reaching Flushing, I was lucky to be able to just catch the very last Q19 of the evening, which took me within one block of my house… accomplishing in about an hour the journey I’d just walked in almost seven.
Now my feet are the good kind of sore. My nether regions are the bad kind of chafed. But I am filled once again with the sense of accomplishment that comes from a very, very long walk.