Trip to the Conduit 6/18/15

Yesterday I had time after work to go for a tour of the Conduit. I documented my experience with a particular interest in the conditions of pedestrian facilities and the overall feel. I made it as far south as the pedestrian footbridge and then ended by the Norwood Ave J train stop by Highland Park. The photos end by City Line Park. Here I provide a narrative for the photo tour. Overall I took over 200 pictures but for several reasons (ie. memory restrictions and redundancy) I cut the total down to 35 pictures.

Google Maps image of Conduit walking tour

Google Maps image of Conduit walking tour

Today the arterial roadway sits directly atop the historic aqueduct that once connected Highland Park’s Reservoir to parts of Eastern Queens and Nassau. The structure provided drinking water for NYC’s early population. The right of way for route 27 was placed on top of the former aqueduct. If you’d like to learn more about the site’s history check out the NYC Parks website.

I started my walk south from the Grant Ave A train and traveled along the southern edge of the median. Further along I crossed under the bridge for Linden Blvd. Not surprisingly there wasn’t much to see aside from: faded pedestrian crossings, poor, crumbling roads, suicidal cyclists and lots of garbage. The historic Federation of Black Cowboys site is still standing. Signs near Tudor Park across the road indicate that horses once crossed over.

Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound Southbound

Next I crossed over the Pedestrian Overpass. The foot bridge is not an inviting landmark; there were fragments of broken glass scattered along the entrance ramp, a fence covered one segment entirely and there was graffiti everywhere. Presently the bridge is the safest option for crossing the Conduit. Plenty of people opted to run over the six lanes and the grassy median. My guess is that the bridge isn’t practical if your trip is too far North or South.

Pedestrian Overpass Pedestrian Overpass Pedestrian Overpass Pedestrian Overpass Pedestrian Overpass Pedestrian Overpass

Now I head North.

On my way to Cypress Hills I found an ice cream man pushing his handcart on the crumbling sidewalk. It was odd to see him roll the cart with his bike horn when hardly anyone could be seen. Moving along I passed Pals Oval, Indian Field, and Tudor Park. I was surprised to see these ballfields and park spaces were being used with the loud and choked air of passing cars and trucks. Unfortunately for the neighboring community, many facilities, especially Tudor Park, were too close to the Conduit. Tudor Park’s topography is lower than the road. Wouldn’t be surprised if many children developed asthma and other respiratory complications by playing near the trough along Tudor park.

The Ice Cream Man Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound

Before reaching City Line, the community on the Brooklyn-Queens border, I passed through a miniature forest. The transition is characterized from open field space to trees and abundant wildflowers. Finding a shady spot was an easy task. As expected the little oasis, offering shade and respite from the urban setting, soon ended; I was quickly deposited onto the fringe of the road. Up ahead Conduit Blvd squeezes as it nears Atlantic Avenue. One notable theme for the trip: pedestrian infrastructure in and around the conduit is a joke. In order to reach City Line park you need to cross the southbound Conduit Blvd then cross Liberty Ave. Otherwise start running!

Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound Northbound

I want to use this experience to start a conversation with neighbors, community leaders and the city agencies about the future of this road. I undertook this trip in response to the Department of City Planning which asked for a survey of the site. The Conduit succeeds in dividing not only automobile traffic but also the community. Please comment with some changes you would like to see added to the space and, of course, be sure to sign our petition and contact us if would like to get involved.

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11 thoughts on “Trip to the Conduit 6/18/15

  1. I have to pull out a map and see where exactly this is and what it connects to. What I’d give for such a nice wide median!!
    Thanks for such a thorough accounting of it. Has anyone ever attempted planting beans on those big pedestrian bridges? Or Ivy? What a change that would be.

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  2. I love how many pedestrian desire lines show up in these photos! Last winter Angela and I did a tour to check out the footprint of the Kosciusko Bridge and saw some amazing desire lines that AVOIDED the pedestrian bridge that is supposed to direct walkers over the on-ramp on to the BQE. We also got an eye-opening perspective into how much foot traffic there is since it had snowed the day before and the desire lines were clearly tramped down by many feet. I think industrial areas and areas abutting highways tend to sorely ignore the pedestrian, thereby adding to the desolate car-centric feel.

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  3. Great ride. Just wanted to add a few factual corrections. The aqueduct supplied Brooklyn and parts of Queens with drinking water, and was built by the City of Brooklyn. It was in use well into the 20th century. They wanted to extend it into Suffolk County but weren’t allowed, and couldn’t find any other sources of water. That’s one of the reasons Brooklyn voted in 1898 to become part of New York City, which already had Croton water but was about to build reservoirs and a tunnel from the Catskills. Most of the small lakes near Sunrise Highway were used as water sources. There are still a few signs of the aqueduct, other than the reservoir. Did you come across any?

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    • Thank you! I realized that most people would notice the factual mistake so I’ll make the correction as soon as possible. I didn’t see any signs. Next time I do this walk I’ll keep my eyes peeled!

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  4. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog New York City

  5. The south shore of Long Island (including Queens and Brooklyn) should bicycling heaven; it is so flat! And it should be safe enough for a child to bike everywhere.

    Thanks for your work on this.

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  6. This is just terrible and typical Queens crap to allow this pedestrian & bike pathway to have deteriorated to this point. Another example of what is wrong with Queens and the horrible leadership and lame elected officials in this borough. And where is the awful Queens Borough President, Katz, on this. She is just another in a long line of really bad Queens Borough Presidents.

    Queens is truly a third world country.

    https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/

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  7. Very informative and so grateful you took the time to write this. Am looking for an alternative to the shuttle bus (A train work) from 88th St to Euclid Ave and wondered of I could walk along the Conduit. I’m going to try despite lack of sidewalks for most of it I imagine. Thank you again. (PS: I walk along that pedestrian bridge every day to get to the A train. Yes it is decrepit and depressing. :))

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