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Queens Blvd. at Ascan Ave
Looking South
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd

Death Blvd
a pedestrian was killed crossing hereLooking down Ascan towards Austin Street, the Long Island Railroad and Forest Hills Gardens. Note the tudor style buildings there.Ascan was probably slated to be knighted 73rd Avenue before the earls of the Gardens probably complained and saved its name. As kids, of course, we called it Ash Can , and that wasn't all. Think of any combination with a-s-s, and we also applied it to this hapless road.
The main landmark at Ascan and Death Blvd is the Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church below, one of the largest and best heeled parishes in the city. The curse of Queens Blvd, however, could not even leave the church alone. In late 2000, a scandal broke in which the monsignior in charge of the parish was suspected of funneling contributions from the church's poor fund to a couple of shady characters, who some felt might have been extorting the money. The elderly priest had only just retired, and had to be whisked from his home to a church retreat, his reputation shattered. I believe the case remains under investigation.
Ascan merited only the "Be Alert" signs as opposed to the sinister "Pedestrian Killed" classics due to the comforting fact that only a couple of people have been run over here in recent years. The more prolific assasins like Yellowstone, 71st Avenue, or 51st Avenue in Elmhurst qualified for the more draconian message. Studying the direction of the traffic lights, one can see a glaring source of danger. Though a two-way south of the boulevard, Ascan's direct northside counterpart, 72nd Drive, is one way leading away from the boulevard. Hence, since no cars ever head south from that direction into the boulevard, the city felt no need to point traffic lights north. Pedestrians heading south have little else to guide them save for the walk signals, which can be rendered useless in bad sun glare. Virtually all intersections around NYC involving one way traffic suffer from this short sighted effort to save a few bucks. Death via the automobile and church troubles aren't all that has plagued this crazy corner, however. Some years ago, a lunatic with religious and political motives firebombed the supermarket on the left. Both it and the corner restaurant were obliterated and the market owner was killed. Again, as with many of the prewar buildings between Queens Blvd and Austin Street in Forest Hills, pseudo-Tudor is the standard style.

© 2001, Jeff Saltzman.