North & South
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd
|The corner of Queens Blvd. East & 64th Road, facing south; the top shot from all the way back in 1992, and the rest from February 2001. I lived for 13 years, 3 blocks up the hill. The Boulevard of Death stuff was never an issue back then, however in retrospect, maybe it all began then. See the fruit stand on the left? Back in the 1970's it was part of the then new phenomenon of immigrant Korean convenience store operations. One day, a couple of years after it opened, the owner took off after a teen who had swiped some fruit and chased the kid into the now notorious 12 lanes of lunacy. The kid and the fruit got to the other side intact. The owner did not. He was struck and killed in what was then a deeply saddening and touching neighborhood tragedy, made tens of times worse by the common knowledge all of us had of the exhaustive hours this man, and his entire family, worked to make that store, and their American experience, succeed. Until that moment, the dangers inherently built into the great boulevard's design were never on my mind. I even took it as a point of pride that Queens Blvd's green lights were so long, compared with the pansy 20 second long green lights of such lesser boulevards, like the smaller Linden of St. Albans, which barely eclipsed the green time of the lowly sidestreets traversing them. It seemed like the natural order of things, that the king of Queens boulevards should get two minutes to the 30 seconds, if that much, that the side streets got before turning red. Now of course, the red everyone worries about is blood, not lights.|
You've seen these traffic lights from
the back; now you got'em eyeball to eyeball, along with their
new hallway monitor, the "Be Alert" sign that lets
you know 64th Road and it's northside crosswalk buddy 64th Avenue
qualify as Tier 2 killers. Hey, what can I say; they can't all
be 51st Avenue.
Blimpie has been at the 64th Avenue corner for quite a while now, but throughout my growing years, that spot was home to Barton Candy. Barton's candies always came in square metal tins. As a kid, I loved getting the tins more than the candy. Maybe that's one reason why Barton ain't around no more. It doesn't say much for your culinary skills when a community favors Blimpie over you. Okay, enough Barton bashing. The storefront next to Howard News with the lighter shade of green in its awning is Avellino's Pizzeria, which has been a popular pizza place since the 1970's. It was still a newbie to the hood when I was in my teens, but at this juncture, it is an old timer. Let's face it all you aging hipsters; the 70's is like a quarter century ago already!
|Now if 64th Road-Avenue was 1st Tier in the Death department, there might have been a uniformed crossing guard helping these folks along, but with three quarters of their trip done and the walk signal still in their favor, they have an excellent chance of survival. The six story apartment house on 64th Road was the scene of a murder back in 1971 that ripped Rego Park's innocence to shreds. An old timer named Richard Raber was returning home from the Rego Park Jewish Center. It was already dark and he had apparently just left evening services taking place over the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashona. Two thugs mugged him just outside his building yonder and shot him to death because he had no money. You see, the more observant among Jews do not carry cash on either the Sabbath or the high holy days. Until that night, most residents of Rego Park did not know from muggings or murder. The city had finally caught up with them and Mr. Raber's death left the community shaken for a long time. The case did not help neighborhood race relations either, contributing mightily to the uproar that soon ensued over a planned project several blocks to the north on 108th Street; an ugly brouhaha that foisted Mario Cuomo into prominence. As for the late Richard Raber, I just want you to know that you haven't been forgotten.|
©1997, 2001, Jeff Saltzman.