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Queens Blvd. at 70th Road
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd

Death Blvd
west wide
a pedestrian was killed crossing hereTwo 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.
west 2
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.