Two blocks east of Yellowstone, where
one of the less lesser roads, 70th Road, gets a full court cross-through,
but no left turn lane, which is an amenity saved for not-quite-lesser
lesser roads. 70th Road doesn't take any back seat however, when
it comes to danger. It ranks right up there with the first tier
killlers it has for neighbors, 71st Avenue and Yellowstone. It
is one of the eight some-odd Death Blvd. intersectors qualifying
as a mass murderer over the last decade. The six story apartment
house on the right at the corner of 70th Avenue probably dates
from the immediate postwar years. It sported what must have then
been an extremely luxurious extra; terraces, at least on corner
apartments. Not until the late 1950's would such an amenity become
common in new construction. The building following it at the
corner of Yellowstone, also sports corner balconies. Not that
this is a slum now, but back in the late 1940s, this must have
been a truly exclusive area to live in. Today, these buildings
are no more than middle class.
A closer look points out the steep
grade curving sharply down into the dangerous Yellowstone crossing
from the west. Though straight at least since Continental Avenue,
the westbound lanes also slide down a slippery stretch into the
valley sheltering Yellowstone. As speed limits go, 30MPH is already
pretty slow. Even the most insignificant side streets will offer
around 25 here. Many other secondaries, like Francis Lewis, boast
much higher speed limits, making the shirll calls from community
activists to further slow Death Blvd. traffic sound kind of extreme.
There is no good reason to slow down those with green lights.
What they have to do most of all is stop jaywalkers and convince
people that it is actually okay to take two lights to complete
your trip across. Particularly bad locations like this will also
need walkbridges; however ugly they may prove to be, they have
to get built. What are those giant shopping bags? Some sort of
avante-garde sculpture? Shopping bags full of body bags, ready
for action? Extra pedestrian impediments?
Looking eastward at 70th Road from
the jealous, cut-off 70th Avenue. Both of them undoubtably resent
71st Avenue, which not only gets the big express subway stop,
but carries a bonafide official second name, Continental Avenue.
Why Jewel Avenue never adopted a post-numbering apellation like
Continental did is beyond me. I think it is fairly obvious that
Jewel was intended to become 69th Drive. The way it works in
Queens-numbered-avenue taxonomy is for every number there is
an Avenue, Road and Drive, in that exact order. In many spots
you'll find one or more missing, but the spots are reserved because
elsewhere, as the gaps between longer routes grow, new shorter
routes spring forth. On the left between 70th Road and 71st Avenue
sits a local landmark of sorts, the Ridgewood Savings Bank building,
which is oval shaped and used to have its own funky castiron
twinheaded lampposts with ice cream cone type luminaires. Now
it has boring, modern knockoffs that wouldn't fool the blind.
In front of it a Triboro Coach bus loads up fares. On the right
is another local icon, the T-Bone Diner. The brown glass tower
is at the corner of 71st Avenue. 71st/Continental Avenue may
be the crosstown star on the south side of Death Blvd., but on
the north, to the left, it surrenders the limelight to 108th
Street, which heads off behind the bank building towards Corona.
Won't have to wonder when these
shots were taken. It always helps to have a time marker like
a movie ad on a roll, and what could be more fitting to mark
the Hannibal Lechter of Boulevards than the Hannibal Lechter
of Hannibal Lechters. The red globes indicate that this subway
entrance is closed after a certain hour. Another marker dating
this shot in coming months is the green G. Starting August of
2001, a new line, the V, will take over as the G gets truncated
out in Long Island City. Planned for the 6th Avenue trunk line
along with the F, expect the V logo to be orange, which upsets
the color balance somewhat. The phone booth behind the entrance
has the new markings of Verizon, which Bell Atlantic renamed
itself in the heady days after it swallowed GTE and before telecom
stocks got flushed down the proverbial toilet. Shot 2/22/2001.
© 2001, Jeff Saltzman.