What It Looks Like to Walk the Length of the BQE

Here’s a project we’re glad not to be doing (but we’re thrilled someone is). Gallery owner Robert Hult is spending today walking the route of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, not on the highway but as close alongside it as possible, and posting regular photos to his Twitter account.

Taken collectively, the snapshots create a real vision of not only how Robert Moses’ massive highway transforms the blocks along its ten mile path, but how the communities around it have responded to the mega-structure abutting their homes and workplaces. Going through the full collection of photos, especially in order, is well worth your time.

Many of the images look something like this, a blank wall and plenty of asphalt. Nothing pedestrian-friendly or economically vibrant here.

So close to the highway, car-oriented design dominates. The Turbo Laundry Center advertises “ample parking,” and boasts a half-block curb cut for its surface lot.

The BQE off-ramps that Hult has to pass always include a wide and dangerous crossing. At McGuinness Boulevard, the off-ramp is a traffic magnet, absolutely packed with automobiles.

But the BQE doesn’t totally dominate the communities it passes through. Here, a small garden planted alongside the depressed highway stands as an attempt by the neighborhood to reclaim the space alongside the BQE trench.

With resources, more urbanist responses to the BQE are possible. The Williamsburgh branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, shown here, sits on top of the highway, which runs in a very short tunnel at this location.

And in a city this big and this crowded, even the bleak space underneath the highway is reappropriated for public use. This cyclist is trying out his tricks in one of the few nearby locations with some room to do so.

  • Rob Hult

    Unfortunately my partner Dave Kennedy Cutler and I ran out of batteries on the south side of Williamsburg– so leg two will be next week!

  • @c87c9aa924955bd147f319c2f3edea6b:disqus You’ll have loads of fun taking pictures of the where the BQE hits the edge of Columbia Waterfront/ Red Hook and meets up with the BK Battery Tunnel. Believe it or not, even more asphalt  than the pics above.

  • JamesR

    An alien species looking down on these sites from orbit would be forgiven for thinking that a race of large, wheeled, steel beings must dwell here, rather than than the bipedal mammals whom these conveyances ostensibly serve. 

  • Corey Burger

    Any chance this will be on a real website so we don’t have to hack our way through twitter picture?

  • fj

    Far different than typical pristine car commercials driving way out in the country straight out of George Orwells 1984 of the bizarre car fantasies driving real-life dystopias.

  • Anonymous

    DOT should put a bike lane in the space under the elevated parts of the BQE. There’s parking there already, a two way bike lane could run right down the middle of the parking areas.

  • Rob Hult

    HI yes will be tweeting leg two as we walk on monday and then consolidate the whole walk with pics vid and audio and post to a website

  • Soufiya Com

    do you know such this places that design and be a friendly urban space ?


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