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Queens Blvd. at 51st Avenue
North & East - Elmhurst
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd

Death Blvd

northeast 1
A pedestrian was killed crossing here Have you ever seen Edward Scissorhands? Well, now meet Edward Scissor-section! The vortex of 51st Avenue and Queens Boulevard is clearly a crossing that should never have taken place. Some may argue in favor of Yellowstone, 71st Avenue or Union Tpke, but for sheer physical extremity, 51st Avenue has to take hands down the title of Most Dangerous Intersection, and that most likely to inflict pain and death.
These two roads slash through one another at such a sick crazy angle, Isoceles might have had second thoughts on inventing the triangle had he known what this would one day be here. The sharply angled crosswalk lines betray the long treacherous path that walkers must navigate to get from one end of this mess to the other. They say Death Boulevard is at its widest at Yellowstone, but the longest trek from north to south as the crow flies and the feet walk, must be 51st. Getting from one side to the other, given the wild slant, is at least a two block long hike. Standing guard, waiting for new crossers to guide across the parted sea, is one of many traffic agents assigned to various notorious intersections throughout this winter of 2001.
 Looking east, two area landmarks occupy the next block; the Sage Diner and the Elks Lodge that follows it. Since I went to Russell Sage Junior High, I used to imagine the diner was also named for him, and it might well be, but it could also be for the spice. Look closely now at the indentation in the sidewalk right at the end of the eastbound crosswalk. That indentation should serve the crossers reaching or stepping off the curb. It also acts, however, as the entrance and exit to and from the diner's parking lot. Many cars make wild turns off the both the boulevard and southbound 51st, into that lot through that indent. Many others also leave that lot and get right onto the boulevard, even when 51st has the red light. In a way, they can claim that indentation is in limbo, neither 51st Avenue nor Queens Boulevard, and therefore they are not running a 51st Avenue red. I witnessed this constantly while shooting. Despite all the police activity, nobody entering or leaving that lot carelessly got stopped. Someone has to prevail on the Sage to move their entrance and exit farther down 51st, away from the corner.
 With the venerable Elks Lodge in the background, that guard finally collects a group to escort.

©2001, Jeff Saltzman. All right reserved.