28 November 2006

Out on the Eastern Frontier

Tuesday 11/28, Run #90: East New York

Distance: 9.43 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:25
Temp: 54
Dewpoint: 45
Weather: mostly cloudy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.68
Total Unique Miles: 703.01
Percent of Brooklyn: 40.35

For the complete route, click here

Notes: Today's was another run I'd been dreading for a while. Not so much because of the neighborhood itself (though most of it was in a rather bleak and industrial corner of East New York), but because the route included several areas where I really didn't know what I'd find until I got there. In fact, there were at least three separate spots that were empty on the "big map," but in which Google maps showed some sort of development (like vacant land being graded in patterns that resembled the street grid, for instance), suggesting that roads may have been built there subsequent to the satellite pictures being taken. Perhaps because of my somewhat obsessive nature, or maybe because I simply don't enjoy being lost, I find that I anticipate (and enjoy) my runs much more when I'm pretty sure about where I'm going and can sketch out the exact route on my little map ahead of time. And that wasn't the case today.

Yet I ran anyway -- I'd have to do it sooner or later, of course, and I figured I might as well do it now when it's unseasonably warm out. And now that I'm back home and looking over the "big map," I'm glad I did. The route plugged up a lingering (and sizeable) hole along the Brooklyn/Queens boundary (I've now run the entire length of this border, with the exception of a little piece in the Highland Park area and the parts up here in Greenpoint and Williamsburg), and filled in a number of streets in the far southwest frontier of the borough. I didn't run through many tree-lined residential streets, since wide swaths of this region are filled with public housing complexes (at different points I ran near or through the Louis Pink, Boulevard, Cypress Hills, and Linden projects), warehouses (especially south of Linden Boulevard), and an enormous US Postal Service facility, which sprawls over something like a dozen blocks. There is also the MTA's Spring Creek Bus Depot down that way, as well as a large Sanitation Department facility on Forbell Avenue.

Overall, though, this area leaves a decidedly mixed impression. On the one hand, it's easy to tell you're at the (seemingly forgotten) edge of the borough. Empty lots -- strewn with trash and weeds and who knows what -- abound, and sidewalks are damaged or nonexistent for whole blocks. Some streets were flooded with several feet of water. Roads are cracked and filled with potholes. And the brave motorists that venture through anyway seem to have incorporated the frontier mentality into their driving -- stop signs, for instance, were almost universally ignored. But on the other hand, whole blocks were being developed with fairly attractive rowhouses and apartments, complete with little yards now bearing a few strips of fresh sod (and yes, several new streets had apparently been built). Indeed, an article in the Post from last summer detailed how "luxury" houses costing $500-600K were being constructed in the neighborhood (only a few blocks from the notorious Louis Pink project), and were selling faster than they could be built. So it's really a mixed bag -- half blighted decrepitude and half new investment and development. It'll be interesting to see what this area's like in 10 or 15 years.

Oh, and by the way, two minor milestones today: first, I topped 700 unique miles, for whatever that's worth. And second, I (finally) reached 40% of Brooklyn run (it seemed like I was mired in the 30s forever). Despite the week and a half I'll be at my sister Mel's in California for Christmas, I'm still hoping to hit the halfway mark by the end of January. As always with this whole thing, time will tell.

Okay, sorry for the long post. I'll shut up now and quickly move on to the photographic segment:

puddle, east new york
Sapphire Street, on the Brooklyn/Queens border

logan street, east new york
Looking north on Logan Street

incinerator, east new york
Old incinerator on Forbell Street

new houses, east new york
New houses on Grant Avenue, with the huge Postal Service facility beyond

ghost bike, east new york
Ghost bike memorial for 10-year old Shamar Porter on Linden Boulevard (click here to see the photo essay on ghost bikes from Sunday's Times)


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