|The BQE wends its wavy way through the Greenpoint neighborhood. Generations of older Brooklynites knew this area as Greenpernt. It's ancient rowhouses, brownstones, wood frame houses and assorted multifamily dwellings from the late 19th and early 20th century still dominate. One of my uncles used to live here and several times he took me up to his roof where he kept a large pigeon coop. I remember that being an incredible experience. Those birds had some thing going there. Just as many of the men in Greenpoint belonged to their little corner social clubs, those pigeons had their club. For those that think pigeons are dirty birds, a coop is an education. It didn't stink to my memory. I've been in the vicinity of chicken houses. I know when birds stink and these didn't. Today Greenpoint is most known for it's Polish population, but many Italian families, like that of my uncle, still reside here, I'm sure.|
Among the main drags in Greenpoint are Humbolt Street
and McGuiness Blvd. Both run into each other roughly just about
here, beneath the highway. You may be wondering where exit 33
is, since we're headed for 32 after just passing 34. Exit 33
was the McGuiness-Humbolt exit, but it's southbound ramp disappeared
in recent reconstruction, never to return, I'm sure. Northbound,
it's still there.
McGuiness Blvd runs right from the BQE, back towards Queens, to the Long Island City neighborhood hard by the East River. It crosses it's own bridge to get there, the Pulaski, not to be confused with the New Jersey Skyway. Motorists heading into the Midtown Tunnel toll plaza can see the Pulaski flying over their heads before descending into the tunnel.
Humbolt Street heads left, towards Bushwick, where it will intersect with three key routes connecting Brooklyn and Queens; Metropolitan Ave, Grand Street and Flushing Avenue. It pretty much gives up it's importance as a major street at Grand, having lost it's place in the pecking order to it's next street neighbor, Bushwick Avenue, which will run all the way down to the East New York confluence of Jamaica, Pennsylvania and East New York Avenues and the Jackie Robinson Pkwy.
As Meeker-Morgan gets the play for southbound traffic reports, so does McGuiness-Humbolt northbound.
Among the several destinations to choose from at upcoming
exit 32, is Metropolitan Avenue, which is closing in on us from
the left, diagonally. My parents used to take me for holiday
suits at some hole in the wall kiddie clothes store, just off
of Metropolitan and the BQE. I mostly remember the old fluorescent
lighting and the ornate tin ceiling in the store. I hated being
fitted for clothes. In 1967, at age 9, I underwent the torture
of having to wear a Nehru jacket. Remember them? At least it
wasn't maroon, or was it? Every sports jacket they got me until
then was maroon. After the Nehru I graduated to navy blue. I
think the store's name was Balls. For all I know, it may still
Visible on the far right is the Manhattan tower of the Williamsburgh. Until developing this, I'd never noticed the bridge towers were visible from here. You'll see many church towers and spires throughout this area, although these photos don't show much. This neighborhood may have more churches than any other.
|Very shortly the BQE will split in two, not for the first time either. The left version will head for the Williamsburgh, the right will descend into an open cut for the trip through the Williamsburgh neighborhood, before rising again to tranverse Fort Greene. The BQE undoubtably rises and falls more often than any other highway in the city. The truck in the center southbound lane stayed with us throughout our trip over the Williamsburgh, probably headed to a delivery or pickup in Chinatown. You'll notice it throughout this series of photos and those in the Gallery's Williamsburgh Bridge section. Visible on the left is a billboard for one of our generation's icons; the Apple iMac computer. All shot 2/99.|