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Queens Blvd. at Grand Ave
& Broadway - Elmhurst/Newtown
Photo Gallery: Queens Blvd

Death Blvd

a pedestrian was killed crossing hereIt's mid March 2001 at one of Death Boulevard's favorite bowling lanes, and several pins are nearing completion of their 12 lane odyssey. We're looking south from the corner of Broadway. Seaman's Furniture has been at the southern corner for eons. I'm sure they'd just as soon not have the giant Pedestrian Killed sign in the way of peoples' view of their store. It is not likely to leave anyone in the mood for buying sofas and chairs. It's more likely to leave visions of wheelchairs in customers' minds. This area has always been big on furniture stores; now it's more notorious as a vibrant part of the infamous human bowling alley; the Boulevard of Death.
Even as I write this, the pins keep getting knocked down. On March 22nd, 2001, a woman was crossing, apparently against either the light or the walk signal, and was struck by a motorist turning right here from Grand onto the boulevard eastbound. The irony is that the motorist had come to a stop, yielding to the crosser, when he was rear ended by another driver and thrust into the woman, breaking her ankle.
north 1
north 2
The two shots above look north from Grand Avenue to Broadway. Death Boulevard, of course, is the terminal junction of both major thoroughfares. Broadway is really an east-west route for much of its run, only swinging south at the last minute a couple of blocks up from here. Grand Avenue likewise swings north on a sharp dime after a long diagonal route through Maspeth to Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, where it changes the Avenue designation for Street. There, it runs all the way to the East River, where as the crow flies, it comes damn close to continuing as the Grand Street of Manhattan's Lower East Side. In actuality, it misses by about three blocks, and is really directly across from Houston Street. It also misses hitting Brooklyn's Broadway by only a few blocks, which would have made it a Broadway to Broadway...well...way! Given that Manhattan's Grand Street intersects with THREE Broadways, East, West and "Regular", that would have cemented one of the oddest street-name relationships on earth.
As on the Grand Avenue side, the Broadway corner also hosts furniture dealers. A circular building on the left houses a bank. This area, considering the nearby circular department store edifice, has a strange penchant for round buildings.
Looking west from the Broadway side. The large dark building on the left is the Elks Lodge. I'll bet alot of you from outside NY wouldn't think New Yorkers belong to such lodges. The cream colored building beyond it is the Pan American Hotel, which apparently has fared much better than its namesake airline. It has a website, by the way, linked to on the QB section homepage.
This area was originally called New Town, or Newtown for short. Officially it is now part of Elmhurst, a name foisted upon Newtown by its civic boosters around the turn of the previous century, I'm sure in no small part because some unwary folks pronounced the old name like the cookie. Who wants to have people joke that you live in Fig Newton? Now, however, the name Elmhurst is under attack as having negative connotations, because parts of Elmhurst are kind of seedy. South Elmhurst, a few blocks southeast of here, wants to secede and join Middle Village. Meanwhile, as it is prone to doing, the Transit Authority still thinks the neighborhood is Newtown, as they include the name on the Grand Avenue subway station beneath this spot. The local high school is also called Newtown.
eastboundAs for the aforementioned subway, this is the point where the line named for Queens Boulevard finally returns to it for the first time since making a guest appearance at Queens Plaza. The trunk line IND swerves eastward beneath Death Boulevard from Broadway, where the local tracks have spent several miles running under. The express tracks have logged significant Bway time too, but also took a sneaky little detour through Woodside along Northern Boulevard, which some consider even more dangerous than Queens Boulevard, but, as I often note elsewhere, that's another story.
For a Grand Avenue, the subway station here got real westboundshort shrift in the design department. Unlike every neighboring station on the line, the distinctive two-color mosaic forming the names Grand Avenue and Newtown along the platform walls look as if they were done in a rush, with thin ugly lettering and a crampy, stingy appearance, ill enhanced by the atrocious shade of blue used. Elmhurst Avenue's station also uses that blue, but its nameplates at least were of normal size and brightly lettered. The support pillars at Grand are also very thick and ceiling beams low. It looks more like a bunker than a station, and given the war above between walkers and wheels, perhaps it should be.
east 2More photos of the station are on's Queens Boulevard IND Line
page. They call the color True Blue, and that's exactly what it will make you feel like.
The IND (The 3 letters are not legit initials as are IRT and BMT, but simply the beginning of INDependent) remains under the Boulevard of Death until Hillside Avenue, just two blocks short of the boulevard's ignominious deadending by the very Long Island Railroad that it so successfully vaults over in Sunnyside and barrels through in Woodside. Fool'em once, fool'em twice, you're the fool if you try thrice!
Subway photos taken 6/1/2001 with digital camera.
NEWS: 04/21/2001: Death stalks the Grand Avenue intersection again, only this time the street level isn't to blame. According to NY1 News, "Jesus Rodrigo Garcia Duque, 13, died Wednesday night when he was run over by a southbound R-train at the Grand Avenue station in Elmhurst. According to investigators, witnesses saw the boy jump into the path of the oncoming train. Police say school papers found in his knapsack led them to believe that the straight-A student committed suicide." The family disputed the suicide allegation and as of this writing, the investigation continues.

© 2001, Jeff Saltzman. All rights reserved.