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Archive for November 21st, 2009

Why I love NYC Marathon day

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

I make it a point of walking the borderlines between contestant and spectator when the NYC Marathon comes hurtling through Long Island City. The big show always delivers easy photos of runners and acolyte crowd, but for me, the NYC Marathon offers something else. An untrammeled and traffic free opportunity to explore Queens Plaza without the suspicious attentions of the NYPD focusing upon me as a potential anarchist or possible adherent to some fifth columnist group’s philosophies.

for 2008 marathon coverage- and discussion of the physical culture movement, click here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally impossible angles and vantage points- forbidden by either those security regulations so rigorously enforced by the NYPD or that unyielding flow of traffic entering Queens from Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge- are available during the Marathon due to the wholesale diversion of traffic away from the event.

for 2009 ING NYC marathon coverage, click here. If you’re looking for photos of the runners as they hurtled through LIC, click here for the entire set of photos at flickr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Incongruously empty of their reason for existence, the utilitarian patience of Queens Plaza’s cement clad steel roadways is tried only by the sound of thousands of runners, a cheering crowd, and a complex of actively running elevated subway tracks. The comparative silence offered to your harried narrator during such moments is nepenthe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been lucky in the last few months. The occasion of the Queensboro Bridge Centennial, with its associated parade and historical community events, allowed unprecedented access to the structure- associated onramps– and approaches, and the rich historical vistas normally rendered unreachable by the dangers of oncoming and uncountable waves of vehicular traffic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Work has already begun on the renovation of Queens Plaza into a form more to the liking of the oligarch masters of New York, hidden in their Manhattan towers, but what fate will befall the past?

Look to ancient Millstones for prognostications about the future, and commentary on the regard shown the past by those self same urban masters. Forgotten-NY‘s Kevin Walsh, in the syndication feed of his Huffington Post column, has written a great history of the Queens Plaza Millstones- click here.

Queenscrap has been all over the controversy. So has the NY Daily News. Your humble narrator was allowed to video a community meeting on the subject, and it can be viewed here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accompanying the municipal re-rendering of the Plaza will be the construction of multiple tower buildings- condominium apartments and hotel complexes, as well as the opening of a Long Island Railroad and MTA Subway crossover station at Skillman Avenue. Progress has been girdled by the recent financial crisis, but this is hardly the first cycle of boom and hopeless bust that Queens Plaza has weathered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wonder what it might look like in another 100 years, when the archaic elevated subway tracks are rusted away and replaced, in a time when vehicular traffic as we know it will be considered quaint. Wonder if you’ll still be able to see the sky in Long Island City in just 10 years, and whether or not America’s great cities will be anything other than amusement parks and tourist attractions in 50.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm

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