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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Queensbridge Park

The largish rectangle of Queensbridge Park lies along the East River under the Queens side of the 59th Street Bridge, alias the Queensboro Bridge, alias (though this is an alias no one will ever use) the Ed Koch Bridge. I headed for it following my northward trek from Dutch Kills Green to Sixteen Oaks Grove (aren't those evocative names?). Walking down 21st Street, Long Island City's main drag, I passed this wall of glorious graffiti.

The masked green faces are obviously meant as glam-rock spirits of the New York City parks. Don't you think? I knew you'd agree.

I discovered you can't make your way west to the southern edge of Queensbridge Park along Queens Plaza exactly. You have to cut across a wooded grassland alongside the Queensbridge South housing project, a strange walk through grounds that aren't exactly parkland but aren't developed either.

It's a long, strange trip, a little bit spooky even.

On the left you pass the cutely named but disappointing Queensbridge Baby Park, which alas is just a grungy handball court but for some reason gets its own Parks Department name. In fact, according to the Parks Department website, this facility and thus I assume the whole strange grassland is technically part of Queensbridge Park.

But most of the area along the grassy corridor's left-hand perimeter is closed off, and there must be something really valuable – or really evil – there. I was struck by the incongruity of the friendly Parks Department maple leaf together with the threatening KEEP OUT indicators.

And I hadn't even gotten to the park proper yet. But as I walked, a vista opened up indicating that Queensbridge Park was finally near.

The interior was a hive of activity on this sunny spring weekend, with the smell of cookouts and the sounds of semi-live music.

To go with the many interesting human personalities populating the park, there are bird patterns worked into the backstop fences. I always like these when I come across them in the parks.

And there are some trees with personality, like this one.

But observe the fence in the photo above. It runs alongside the whole riverside edge of the park, keeping visitors from what is to me Queensbridge Park's most significant feature – its waterfront. From a distance, through the fence, you can see how nice it'll be when access is restored.

For now, it's just a dream, as seawall construction continues. The work began in May 2013 and was expected to take a year.

Last year, too, the local City Council member announced funding to renovate the Park House, which, from the outside, is one of the odder-looking buildings you'll see in New York City parks.

You can't get to the water right now, but you can sure see the span that crosses it. Not to mention the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

So give a thought to Queensbridge Park next time you cross the 59th Street Bridge, or just hear the song.

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