Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flushing Queens

It was a warmer day in New York today (Tuesday), a big change from yesterday when we needed a couple of layers to ward off the cold breezes. First thing we did was make our way up to Times Square station on our favourite number 1 line. From here we made it on to the number 7 line to take us on our day's adventure out to Flushing, Queens, our first foray out of Manhattan.

The train emerged from underground around the Queensboro Plaza at the Brooklyn end of the Queensboro Bridge. We were met with scenes like this through the train window.

It is all industrial necessity, urban decay and utilitarian building lots.

We make our first stop at Woodside, at 61st Street on Roosevelt Avenue. For the first time we realise the impact of the elevated number 7 train line on the communities below it. The elevated track follows the full length of Roosevelt Avenue right out to Flushing, Queens (that's miles and miles). The Salvadorian flag flying on the right of this picture indicates the multicultural mix of this neighbourhood.

We got back on the train and continued on to Flushing, Queens. Flushing is the end of the line so at least busy Main Street wasn't overhung by the clanging, rushing, elevated train track. We were back in Chinatown, one of three in New York city. I think Rob and I were the only people on the train that were not from a multicultural background and it felt the same in Main Street, Flushing. The atmosphere was much more laid back than Chinatown in Manhattan and Rob enjoyed picking up some street food (Peking style pancakes with spring onion).

We couldn't find the Chinese restaurant recommended by Jamie Oliver in his America series but we did at least make our own great find for lunch: Minni Shabu Shabu on 38th Street. I think it was Korean but I can't be sure. Anyway once we'd had a few lessons in how it all worked we loved our self cooked seafood hotpot. Delicious, and something very different for us!

Having experienced a little bit of multicultural Flushing we got back on the number 7 train and headed back in the direction of Manhattan, making a stop along the way at Junction Boulevard.

The main street of Junction Boulevard was the usual very poor, clanging, noisy, under the elevator scene that characterises the full length of Roosevelt Avenue. Although we were able to find a quieter area here and get a close up view of the suburban houses that are typical of these outer boroughs of New York.

We made it back to Manhattan and breathed a sigh of relief as we emerged out of 5th Ave-Bryant Park station. Bryant Park forms the grounds of the beautiful New York Public Library. We decided it is one of the most civilised spots on Manhattan to sit for a while. Central Park is a close contender but then it is more self conscious of its civilising presence. We sat enjoying the goings on on Fifth Avenue while we enjoyed our green tea flavoured sticky rice cakes from Flushing Chinatown.

I had to take a peak at the interior of the library just to see where the famous non wedding of Carrie and Big was filmed. The Astor family were the key benefactors in creating this amazing building for New Yorkers.

We continued down 5th Avenue to our 23rd Street, stopping off at the Heartland Brewery for a reviving Belgian Ipa lager.

Closer to home at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 23rd Street we found Eataly for the first time. A huge shop/deli specialising in the finest produce from Italy, a place people can buy their top quality wines, cheeses, hams, pastas, breads, sauces and meats and where they can stop and eat delicious food to order and enjoy Italian wines and antipasto platters. It looked wonderful and we'll put it on our list to return to.

The main things we learnt today were that there is a lot more to New York than just Manhattan, there are a lot of people living in the outer boroughs of New York who are doing it tough and for whom life in this amazing city must be a real struggle, and there is a very big gap between the living standards of New Yorkers. Not withstanding that everyone we came across today is living with dignity, and relative peacefulness. I hope the schools are doing a good job for their children!

1 comment:

Maxine said...

Very interesting. Such diversity. I wonder if that train line overpass is one that features in so many hollywood films?