Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Broadway Junction

I spend a lot of time at the Broadway Junction subway station waiting for the J train. It is cold on the platform, so I usually wait upstairs where windows look out over the L platform and beyond. To me it looks like the country.

I am sure that anyone else would just see a cemetery near a gas station. Looking at the picture, this is what I see too. And yet, I keep expecting to see a horse and cart, carrying cut trees no less, rolling up that hill. I decided that the cemetery needed investigation.

A big problem with my new neighborhood, is that it is not familiar to me at all. I often feel lost, as if my inner compass is off. The streets below the Broadway Junction station are confusing and shrouded in elevated lines. I found myself on a shadowy street where cars were parked on the sidewalk, snow was black and unplowed, and the trees grew into the concertina wire. Soon I passed the Alabama Avenue subway station. The automated subway voice always seems to take a bit more pleasure saying that station name, with almost a southern drawl. I knew used the station to orient myself with the elevated lines as a guide to bring me back in the right direction.


I found the entrance to the cemetery. It was pretty bucolic, very calm.

I like cemeteries, I find them to be comforting rather than scary, especially the old ones. People have been living and dying for centuries.

The oldest tombstones are missing their names, worn away by time and weather. Streaked with moss, their old shapes seem almost cheerful.

On a hill I looked out and saw silver strip of water, Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways in the distance; what I have always referred to as 'the end of the world'. I felt even more disoriented, I do not know where I am in relation to the rest of the city.

I looked in the direction of Manhattan, and it felt so far away and it is not the view I am used to. Feeling a touch bereft, I picked my way through the muddy streets and past the bus stops back to the subway station.

There is a corridor in the station that connects the three subway lines. People line the hallway in front of the stained glass and preach the word of the Jesus. Sometimes they wait at the the end corridor to hand out pamphlets. Their hearts are good, they are not annoying like the people crying out about damnation on the subway cars. Maybe it is the light spilling through the stained glass that softens everything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice pictures and article. Are you from around this neighborhood?
For an ongoing research about this Broadway-Junction Infrastructure I'm looking for some locals who can tell me more about this place.
If you are interested to meet and share some information you can mail me: