Queens for a Day

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Of the five boroughs that make up New York City, Queens is the largest in area, the second-largest in population, and the easternmost. With a population that is almost 50% immigrants, Queens is the city's most diverse borough. Since subway service is limited in Queens, we changed to bus transportation, which was very frequent, extremely busy and quite efficient. The intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt in Flushing, Queens, was like a bus terminal with many lines constantly coming and going within a couple of blocks. Kissena Park, a 235-acre Queens jewel was our first stop. The city purchased Kissena Lake in 1904 from a resident who had been operating an ice cutting and manufacturing company on the lake. In addition to the ubiquitous Canadian geese and mallards, the park was well used by local residents. Even on this cold day (in the low 30's when we arrived at the park mid-morning), we saw a good number of people exercising, walking and running. Coming from Atlanta, which is notoriously bereft of public parks, we were amazed by the amount of land set aside for park and recreational areas in New York. Only two of Atlanta's parks cover more than 200 acres. Chastain Park is Atlanta's largest at a paltry 268 acres, a good portion of which is devoted to its golf course. In contrast, Chastain would not rank in the top 25 parks by size in New York.

Covering 843 acres, Manhattan's Central Park ranks fifth, with each of the top four parks exceeding 1,000 acres. Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx covers almost 3,000 acres-- equivalent to two-thirds of Atlanta's total park and green space acreage. It's not surprising that Atlanta has the smallest park system of any major city in the U.S.

Another aspect of New York that always fascinates us is the population density. We find it quite exhilarating to experience the energy of so many people moving in so many directions in relatively close confines. The incredible variety in the languages overheard in conversations around you just adds to the vitality of the city. After finding nine letterboxes in Queens-- thanks mostly to an eight-box series-- it was back to Times Square for theater tickets for this evening. We've heard so much about the effects of the economic downturn on Broadway. Plenty of shows are currently in production, but more of them seem to have empty seats. We have found a significant increase in the proportion of the shows available at the TKTS booth (half-price on the day of performance). Some of the more popular musicals, which were never available at TKTS when we last visited New York in March of 2007, make their appearance on the TKTS board nightly. Tonight we scored tickets to August: Osage County, which won numerous 2008 Tony awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Although we enjoyed the play, perhaps if the original Tony-winning cast were still intact, this three-plus hour performance might not have seemed so long. At 2 1/2 stories, the set was outstanding. (photo from augustonbroadway.com) The signboard outside Trattoria Tricolori on W 47th drew us into the restaurant, and we were not disappointed. The meal was excellent.
Weather today was cloudy with a high of about 45 degrees. Total walking= 7.4 miles