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.
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 station 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.