The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

miniature avalanche

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It’s National Strawberry Shortcake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the cool people I’ve met over the last few years is a fella named Matt Malina, who’s a showrunner at an environmental educational operation that calls itself NYC H2O. NYC H2O offers tours of High Bridge, resovoir paddles, Ridgewood Resovoir – if it involves water, Matt and his gang are there. I’ve done tours of Newtown Creek for Matt, btw, in fact I’ll be announcing an upcoming one is tomorrow’s post.

So, I got an email from NYC H2O offering a lecture for science educators that would occur at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, which would discuss the ecology of the location and the biology of Horseshoe Crabs in particular. Soon, I found myself on the train, heading from Astoria in Queens to the old neighborhood back in Brooklyn.

Why? I had my reasons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Until recently, I’d have just walked over to 31st street and caught the Q line there, but since the Second Avenue Subway opened, the Q doesn’t enter Queens anymore. A connection between the two goldenrod badged trains was instituted at 57th street in Manhattan, and off to Sheepshead Bay Road and deep into Brooklyn went I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in high school, I used to work in a shop on this corner, for a locally owned photo finishing company called “Foto Depot.” Things haven’t changed too much around these parts, except for a change of the secondary “lingua Franca” from Spanish over to Russian. Didn’t linger and reminisce too long, however, as I still had a bit of walk ahead of me to get to the “House of Moses” at Plumb Beach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I turned east on Emmons Avenue, and walked along the bulkheads of Sheepshead Bay. Last July, I offered a couple of posts about the area. This one discusses the Ocean Avenue Bridge pictured above, amongst other things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A continuation of the same excursion, Mute Swans like the one above were discussed in this post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued along Emmons Avenue, and I beat down the urge to enter the Roll-N-Roaster to gorge on their wares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The eastern side of Emmons Avenue terminates at the entrance to the Shore Parkway section of what’s now called just “The Belt Parkway” by the powers that be. This is another one of NYC’s master builder Robert Moses’s arterial road system projects, which opened in 1940.

from wikipedia

The Belt System is a series of connected limited-access highways that form a belt-like circle around the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The system comprises four officially separate parkways; however, three of the four are signed as the Belt Parkway. The three parkways that make up the signed Belt Parkway—the Shore Parkway, the Southern Parkway (not to be confused with the Southern State Parkway), and the Laurelton Parkway—are a combined 25.29 miles (40.70 km) in length. The Cross Island Parkway makes up the fourth parkway in the system, but is signed separately.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moses called certain of his high speed roadways “expressways,” others “highways,” but the Belt is a “parkway.”

In Moses speak, parkway means that it hosted what he referred to as “shoestring parks,” which are both the green shoulders of the roadway itself and the entrances to the “buttonhole” parks that can be found periodically along the way. Given the relatively undeveloped shoreline of South Eastern Brooklyn in the 1930’s, when construction on the Belt Parkway project began, Moses and his team had a lot of leeway in designing out this shoestring concept between Bay Ridge and Cross Bay Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Plumb Beach hosts a sandy littoral zone which rises from the surf to a series of dunes. Behind the dunes, there’s a tidal salt marsh which has a muddy rather than sandy character. Famously, it’s one of the spots in NY Harbor where – during the late afternoon and evenings of May and June – you can witness Horseshoe Crabs both mating and digging nests. If you hang out till dawn, you’ll then see what seems like millions of birds descend on the nests to feed.

Now… why did a humble narrator travel way across the City to attend the NYC H2O lecture? Was it just to watch the arthropoda snuggle?

from wikipedia

Plumb Beach (sometimes spelled “Plum”) is a beach and surrounding neighborhood along the north shore of Rockaway Inlet, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is located near the neighborhoods of Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach, just off the Belt Parkway. Originally an island, Hog Creek was filled in during the late 1930s. Since 1972 it has been a part of Gateway National Recreation Area, though the parking lot and greenway that provide primary access to the shore are the responsibility of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Department of Transportation. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community District 15, although a section of the beach is not part of a Community District.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was actually the instructor which drew my interest this time around, a fellow named Alan Ascher.

Alan Ascher was my high school marine biology teacher. I apologized to him, for being thirty four years late to bio.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

inappropriate interludes

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It’s National Cupcake Lovers Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lonely path one such as myself walks often reveals hidden facets of the great human hive which are unnoticed or uncommented upon by most. An often quoted line from the 1980’s film Buckaroo Banzai is “no matter where you go, there you are,” and that’s something I couldn’t agree with more. Under the LIRR tracks at 43rd street nearby Barnett Avenue, an enterprising family has been collating the collections of the neighborhood “Canners,” who harvest recyclable beverage containers from residential trash. These containers are literally “money left in the street” and prove out the old aphorism that the streets of NYC are paved in gold if you’re willing to work hard enough to get it.

I first became aware of the “collectors” around twenty years ago when I was working a night shift and living in Manhattan, and I’d encounter trucks filled with bags of bottles. The exchange rate was three or four cents a can (depending), as opposed to the five cents you’ll get at a redemption center, with the extra pennies compensating the truck driver and saving the canner the hassle of using the slow and often out of order bottle redemption mechanisms found at supermarkets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a timing thing, getting the blue arc of electrical energy that lights up the train on the local Queens bound track at Queens Plaza. Cannot tell you how many times I miss it, even though I can utterly predict when the flash will occur as the R line local enters the station. My normal predication is to walk home to Astoria, from Queens Plaza, but at night you need to be worried about the pestilential Vampires who are known to infest the area. The 108th and 114th precincts will both deny the existence of this crowd of blood drinkers.

There’s also teenagers, who are wildly unpredictable creatures given to sudden flights of fancy and best avoided.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as I’ve been able to discern, the only vampire we’ve got locally here in Southern Astoria is my pal Matty, pictured above. The shot above was captured just as he was about to lean in and suckle on my jugular, and I surprised him by suddenly spinning around to catch him in the act before he distended the fangs. Legend has it that Matty has been “living” in the neighborhood since the 1880’s, but it isn’t clear if he was already a nosferatu when he arrived or if it’s something that happened locally. No one, not even Matty, is sure where he nests – but as soon as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself ducks below the horizon, he appears.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm

immature exemplar

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It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, according to the National Peanut Council, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t get the notification, the City has updated the Queensboro Bridge’s firmware over the weekend. You’ll no longer find your driving directions in “citytunes,” instead they’re now in a separate app.

That’s a joke, of course, for those of you who are literally minded, but this last weekend was a commuter nightmare subway wise, which resulted in a surface transportation clusterfuck of vehicular traffic trying to exit or enter Queens. A classic example of “you can’t get there from here,” multiple subway lines were rerouted or nonexistent due to track work, and the entire experience of getting around town was framed by a couple of conversations I was a part of last week with the NYC EDC, regarding their Sunnyside Yards Feasibility study.

One had two opportunities last week to throw shade at them about the project. One was at the Queens Chamber of Commerce – while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance Hat – which saw me asking EDC about truck routes and what exactly they think they’re going to be able to plug 28,000 units of housing into. The other was wearing my Access Queens hat (we don’t have actual AQ hats, btw) and I queried as to how half the population of Boulder Colorado would manage to get to work in the City using just three subway stations (33rd Street/Rawson and 40th street/Lowery on the 7, and 36th street on the R/M) every day. Other questions involved hospital beds, NYPD, FDNY, and we explored the chronology involved with transport to Elmhurst Hospital or Bellevue for a citizen who might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke from the ostensible center of the project at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Hunters Point, the dig for Captain Praa’s Golden Horde continues. The semi legendary Dutch sea Captain who settled on the northern side of the Mispat, or Newtown Creek, is meant to have buried a blasphemous treasure he collected on a journey to and from the mysterious Micronesian island of Pohnpei (formerly known as Ponape) in the South Pacific. In the native tongue, Pohnpei translates to “upon a stone altar,” and it is where you’ll find the archaeological site of Nan Modol (which translates to “the spaces between”). Legend has it that Praa was terrified by the latent occult implications of the golden treasure he carried home, and ensured that it would be forever lost in the mud and silt. The tall tale that frog headed monstrosities, reported as periodically rising from the Newtown Creek in the historical record, followed him back to NY Harbor is completely unsubstantiated and fantastic in implication.

from wikipedia

According to Pohnpeian legend, Nan Madol was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa from the mythical Western Katau, or Kanamwayso. The brothers arrived in a large canoe seeking a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After several false starts, the two brothers successfully built an altar off Temwen Island, where they performed their rituals. In legend, these brothers levitated the huge stones with the aid of a flying dragon. When Olisihpa died of old age, Olosohpa became the first Saudeleur. Olosohpa married a local woman and sired twelve generations, producing sixteen other Saudeleur rulers of the Dipwilap (“Great”) clan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one encountered an online conspiracy theory describing the retail giant Wal-Mart as playing a seminal role in a secretive FEMA plot which would see a declaration of martial law enacted in pursuance of the confiscation of personal firearms. This plot, as reported, had Hillary Clinton as its fountainhead. Mrs. Clinton was just an agent, however of a shadowy cabal populated by internationalist Jewish Bankers in league with the Bilderberg group, who are upset that Donald Trump has emerged to thwart their nefarious goals. Who knew?

It made me wonder, and more than wonder, what role the Harley Davidson people might be playing in this global power grab. What other large scale American corporations might be working to subvert individual liberty and institute a new world order?

Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking or worrying about the antediluvian horrors lurking in the seas of the South Pacific just off Pohnpei, specifically located at 47°9′S 126°43′W – where the nightmare corpse city of R’lyeh lies sunken beneath the waves…  in all of its slimy green immensity – which was built in the measureless eons behind history by those vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars?

I think we can all guess who that flying dragon that Olisihpa and Olosohpa built Nan Modol with is, after all.


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pocket flask

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It’s International Lemon Drizzle Cake Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My understanding is that there are isolated settlements, and pockets, of humanity which would be found to the north, west, and south of New York City but that just might be an old wives tale. Imagine… someplace which is not NYC… it boggles the mind. Do these semi mythological people wear skins and hunt with clubs? Are they the descendants of the Dutch who moved away when the English civilization took regency of our archipelago so long ago? Someday, one must mount an expedition and explore the dark continent found to the west, but for now… one is busy attempting to access a lead clad iron vault hidden away beneath the Steinway Branch Library at Broadway here in Astoria, wherein the Queens library system is rumored to store its collection of blasphemy riddled occult literature.

The Queens Library won’t admit, and will tacitly deny in fact, that a stout vault containing tomes of forbidden occult lore exists in Astoria, but you can’t fool a humble narrator… such wonders do exist, as does the dire information they contain. Why do you think the Greeks and Copts travelled from the orient and settled here? Grow up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Word has it that Dutch Sea Captain Peter Praa brought certain “artifacts” back from the southern Pacific island of Ponape, which he buried in discrete locations around a land grant he acquired from the Dutch East India people which once belonged to Dominie Everardus Bogardus. This land was later inherited by Praa’s great grandaughter Anna Hunter. Hunters Point in LIC, as we know it in modern times, is constantly riven by the crews of laborers who are scratching into the mud and rock found here. The cover story offered by officialdom is that these laborers are merely construction workers employed by the Real Estate Industrial Complex, but don’t believe what you’re told. They’re searching for Praa’s treasure, and their employers seek possession of those occluded secrets carried back to the west which the Dutch thought best left buried and forgotten.

Just because a tale is fantastic, unbelievable, or inconceivably byzantine doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Secrets and lies, secrets and lies. There are sections of the Newtown Creek about which even the otherwise overly transparent officials overseeing the Superfund proceedings will not opine. When questions arise about these isolated spots, they grow pale and elusive, avoiding your gaze and changing the subject quickly. What have they found in the muck and mire, in certain stretches of the waterway, particularly on the Brooklyn side, where the pirate Blackbeard is said to have buried a cache of stolen booty? The 19th century tales told by the toll bridge attendants of the Penny Bridge? The man like things with frog heads which they reported as loping out of the water in the dead of night and howling at the moon? Myths and old wives tales, if you believe the powers that be.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


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contraband nature

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It’s National Jelly Donut Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been on a non stop run across the City of Greater New York for the last six weeks, and my dogs are barking. Haven’t been to Staten Island (except by water, twice) or the Bronx at all, but tomorrow I’m going to Plumb Beach nearby Sheepshead Bay to attend a lecture on Horseshoe Crabs which, as it turns out, is being led by my tenth grade biology teacher. Small world, big City, I guess. The shot above was captured at the Grand Avenue station in Elmhurst, where I’ve been three times in the last six weeks, but was just passing through.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was gathered onboard the new Citywide Ferry Rockaway service, which left from Pier 11 in Manhattan and proceeded to Bay 108 in Rockaway in about fifty minutes with a stop in Sunset Park. I was puzzled as to the end goal destination, across the street from the DEP’s Rockaway waste water treatment plant. B 108 isn’t exactly “Main Street” if you know what I mean, but putting two and two together, I figure that the City probably owns the land there due to the Rockaway Plant’s long tenancy and it was likely the only affordable spot along the Rockaway waterfront where you could install the dock.

Pictured, of course, is a NY Water Taxi rather than a Citywide Ferry boat. The Water Taxi was exiting Erie Basin while performing part of its’ IKEA ferry route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around Astoria one recent day, this coal chute cover was encountered and I decided to do a bit of detective work on the address embossed into its legend. The folks at Greater Astoria Historic Society host a page which describes the various name changes that the streets in Astoria have assumed over the years, which provided for some of the hard slog footwork in translating “329 9th Ave., Astoria, L.I.” into the modern day street grid.

What was once known as “Kowenhoven St.” in a city of Newtown called Astoria, which was later renamed as “9th avenue by the independent municipality of Long Island City, became 38th street in the Borough of Queens and a part of the Consolidated City of Greater New York in the early 20th century. The sections of Belcher Hyde Fire Insurance Maps included in today’s post date from 1919, and still carry the LIC era street names and addresses.

– Belcher Hyde map 1919

Broadway is always so named, and Steinway Street was once an avenue but is still named after the local Piano Baron, and 31st avenue used to be called first Jamaica and then Patterson Avenue. 9th street is now 38th street, and if I’m reading the map correctly, the street address (329) of the Atlantic Iron Works would correspond with that of the no longer extant Public School no. 6 (which is a whole other story) and is coterminous with the modern day “Sean’s Place” playground.

– Belcher Hyde map 1919

As a note, the track lines indicated are Trolley, or Streetcar tracks. The arrival of the IND subway line was still a few years away at the stage of the game, and the “cut and cover” work was likely underway but not indicated.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm

troublesome phrase

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It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The humans are quarrelsome and troubling creatures in my opinion, given to irrational ideas. Worship of imaginary sky fathers is just one of these ideations which annoy me, and if you follow current events, the practice causes no small amount of trouble. If there is a “god,” my perception and description of it would be that of an extra dimensional and utterly alien being who deigns to sit in judgement over the natives of this planet which is given to random fits of pique that are expressed as extreme weather events. Personally, a humble narrator doesn’t cling to the idea that some “thing” in the sky is watching over me, other than the omnipresent mechanisms launched by certain global military super powers. To each his own, I guess, but I for one am fairly tired of having my lack of neolithic era superstitions seen as some sort of moral turpitude. One goes out of his way to not impose my beliefs upon others in violent or aggressive ways, which seems to be at odds with those who “believe.” If “faith” is so fragile that you need to murder others to prove it, or shun those who follow a different path – exactly what kind of God are you worshipping? Best to get yourself a better God then the one you’ve got, one who will give you what you want or need – I’d suggest Dagon, Cthulhu, or Lucifer in that case. You’d probably have the best run with Lucifer, if the lifestyle of the Rolling Stones or Jimmy Page are any sort of indication. At any rate, I don’t care what you think or believe, unless it affects me or you start trying to proselytize about it. I never inject my personal opinions about this sort of thing on the true believers, but they are always trying to do the opposite and evangelize me. That’s rude, in my version of morality.

Somehow, this little polemic was conjured up in my mind by the image of that horned pickup in the shot above, a cool car spotted on the streets of Astoria, Queens recently while a humble narrator was enjoying a pint of beer with friends at the local pub. The horned God, in the belief systems of Eurasia, is traditionally the foeman of the sky father. Jung and others described this imagery in terms of the “denied herd leader or gelded bull,” and it emerged during the early days of farming – as did Beer, oddly enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While my fellow Astorians and I spent a couple of enjoyable Sunday afternoon hours quaffing beer and discussing the events of the day, another Astoria Hullabaloo sprung up when a Consolidated Edison crew arrived and began to cordon off the corner of 42nd street at Broadway. They were installing electrical equipment into a street vault. The Con Ed guys were busy, but quite an affable group and they bemoaned the fact that they had to work and couldn’t join in with our festivities. I wonder which God they’d worship if we lived in pagan times?

The Saint of Electrical Workers (text lifted from Wikipedia) is probably “Saint Eligius (also Eloy or Loye) (French: Éloi) (c. 588 – 1 December 660) is the patron saint of goldsmiths, other metalworkers, and coin collectors. He is also the patron saint of veterinarians, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), a corps of the British Army, but he is best known for being the patron saint of horses and those who work with them.” There’s also a traditional Catholic association of electrical workers with Santa Lucia, but she’s more generally connected to artillery men as the lightning bolt in her story actually killed someone. Additionally, St. Elmo is often associated with electrical workers, and there’s a whole contingent of saints competing for the affections of those who work up on utility poles.

Santa Veronica is the patron saint of Photographers, incidentally. Also, from Wikipedia – “According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with pity when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rabbit holes are an existential hazard for me, so…

The Patron Saint of the United States in the Roman Catholic tradition is Mary, in her guise as “Our Lady of the immaculate conception.” Saint Patrick is in charge of the Archdiocese of New York, in case you were wondering. The diocese of Brooklyn (and Queens, thank you), is part of the ecclesial parish of the larger Archdiocese, so presumptively they’ve got St. Pat too. Helps to explain why you see so few “actual” snakes slithering around, but puzzles as to why there are so many of the two legged variety hereabouts.

Not too sure about the other big churches and faiths, and I don’t want to start a research paper on this, so we’ll just end that thought.

Wonder what the patron deity of NYC would be, if we followed the model of the old Greek city states. Mammon, probably. Thoughts? Post ’em in the comments section.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

cylcopean mass

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It’s National Applesauce Cake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator was out of the house early today, to attend a meeting sponsored by the Queens Chamber of Commerce which invited a team from the NYC EDC to present their feasibility study on the Sunnyside Yards at the Bulova Corporate Center found on the border of Astoria and East Elmhurst. I’m happy to say that this was a well attended meeting, and that the attendees included members of the Queens activist community as well as the usual and expected representatives from the Real Estate Industrial Complex. A breakfast meeting, bagels and coffee were offered, along with those very sweet little danishes which are typical of corporate catering.

The EDC presentation was offered by one of their many Vice Presidents, a charming fellow named Nate Bliss. I inquired after the meeting, and there was no relation to the Neziah Bliss family of Greenpoint, just as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The EDC presentation was a roadshow version of the executive summary report found at their website. The presentation glossed over several seminal objections to the project which have been offered by various community organizations such as the gargantuan size of the deck itself (at 43rd street and Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside Gardens, for instance – 109-110 feet above street grade, or at Northern Blvd. and 39th/Steinway – 65-70 feet), but did acknowledge the transit and environmental issues associated with creating a new development that would require between 10 and 19 new schools to be built, and which would install a new population in LIC that would number about half that of Boulder, Colorado – on the 180 acres found between Queens Plaza and 43rd street, Northern Blvd. and Skillman Avenue.

I asked them what they’re planning on plugging the deck and city of towers built on it into, electrical wise. I threw some shade at the fact that their report says that’s it’s not feasible to bring construction materials to the job site, which is a rail yard, by rail. Pointedly asked them, as well, about how they intended to route the thousands of daily trucks which would be carrying in steel and concrete since they won’t be using the railroad to do it.

Ultimately, there’s two efficient routes, and both feed in through Manhattan from the continent – George Washington Bridge down 125th street to Triborough and then through Astoria, or Lincoln Tunnel across 42nd street to Queensboro. Guess which one they’ll pick?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To be entirely clear, despite the fact that the Sunnyside Yards is literally “in my back yard,” my resistance to the plan has nothing to do with the dismissive term “NIMBY” thrown about by the Real Estate Industrial Complex and the bureaucrats of Lower Manhattan. Western Queens is suffocating for lack of infrastructure given the construction boom which has been underway for the last decade and a half. The MTA is overwhelmed, we’ve been closing power plants instead of building new ones, the sewer system is overburdened and outdated. Somebody in the meeting asked me “where are people going to live?” which is the sort of thing that a real estate developer always throws out as if they’re doing us some sort of favor or good deed with the condemnation of whole city blocks and the subsequent erection of mirror glass skinned towers.

Short answer is this – if we improve our transit system, people can live anywhere they want to. Before the ABC and 456 lines reached into northern Manhattan and the 123 lines went to the Bronx, those areas were typified by farmland. So was most of Queens and Eastern Brooklyn, prior to the arrival of the Subways a century ago. Transit expansion equals an opportunity for rapacious profiteering on the part of the real estate industrial complex, and since greed seems to be the only thing that motivates us these days… Imagine the possibilities of an elevated track that crossed from the 103rd Corona Avenue stop on the 7 south across the transit deserts of Queens and Brooklyn all the way to Broadway Junction.

The mind boggles. 


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