New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, December 11, 2009

Agony and Ecstasy

This is the view of Manhattan while traveling on the BQE. If you examine a map of Brooklyn and Queens carefully, you will find that there are not really a great number of highways, particularly in light of the fact that there are nearly 5 million residents between the two boroughs combined. For the highways that do exist, of course, that means TRAFFIC.

I have written before of the fear and anxiety that many have of driving in and around New York City. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway justifies those fears - it is everything you don't want in a highway. It is not pretty, it has sharp curves, it's dangerous to drive on, it's confusing, there are no shoulders or places to stop, and for most of the roadway, the speed limit is 45 mph - if you're lucky. It divides, connects to, and blends with other highways, bridges, and tunnels. You had better know what you are doing, or you may be going where you don't want to go and/or miss where you intended to go.

The construction of this highway dates back to 1937 with the Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Roadway. The highway is 11.7 miles long - extending from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in Brooklyn to the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. It was built to accommodate both commercial and non-commercial traffic and was intended not only to relieve congestion on local streets but also to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs.

The project was fully completed in 1964 under the helm of controversial urban planning czar Robert Moses (1888–1981), chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
In the 1980s, the roadway was under construction. For long time residents, the BQE has had a history of agony. But there are pleasures in riding the BQE, such as the vistas of Manhattan, by day or night. The nicest stretch is driving north under the cantilevered section of the expressway, which forms the Brooklyn Heights Promenade above. Here, the views of Manhattan are magnificent, both from the highway and from the esplanade above. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch of road, but can we call the experience agony and ecstasy?

Photo Note: This image was taken traveling south on the BQE in the central section near the Long Island Expressway. Looking west in the evening light, you can make out the outlines of the Empire State, Chrysler and Citicorp Buildings.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post and photo!

missb@dragonflyvintage said...

I'm a new Brooklyn resident and have had just a few adventures so far on the BQE - definitively not my favorite road...but yes, at night, nothing can beat its views of downtown manhattan. I've driven up and back JUST for the view!

Mary said...

Are you sure?

Mary said...

You should be on the BQE on a day the President is visiting the UN and the East River Drive in Manhattan is closed down periodically! said...

When we lived in LA people gripped about traffic all the time.
I'd always ask if they'd ever driven in New York City?
The answer was always, "No."
Then I told them how lucky they were, because the worst traffic I'd ever encountered was driving around the beautiful, spectacular wonderland of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
(Sorry Staten Island, never been)

alphachapmtl said...

New York is and has been in dire need of some major infrastructure megaprojects. Of course we have big military spending and entertaining wars. Good for us. In the meantime, others are doing their stuff.
Here is just one example:

China is investing over $300 billion in high-speed rail through 2020, in a bid to speed ahead of the rest of the world's train systems.

16,000 miles of new track by 2020, requiring 117 million tons of concrete just to construct the buttresses on which the tracks will lie. Top speeds from Beijing to Shanghai will approach 220 miles an hour, halving the current travel time to four hours. This year China Railway Company plans to hire 20,000 young engineers.

The Wuhan to Guangzhou MU Train route will start to operate on the 26th of this month. The train is the fastest in the world. All the construction and preparations for the route's operation are in the final stages.

In a trial operation, the speed of the MU Train reached 394 kilometers per hour, the highest in the world. Though the speed during normal operation may be at 350 kilometers per hour, but this newly built high speed railway may still reduce the travel time of Wuhan to Guangzhou from more than 10 to 3 hours.

The total length of Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed railway is more than 1068 kilometers. The railway connects Hubei, Hunan and Guangdong. The total investment is more than 116 billion yuan.

Thérèse said...

I just realized that NY City is the only place where I have never driven a car... I am not sure it's a step I want to It looks worse than Paris.
The picture is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Sufjan Stevens made an album about the BQE!

Naomid said...

Yeah and there are hoopers in it!

Naomid said...

...Hoopers in the Sujan Stevens BQE movie