“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Two roads diverge in Queens. They have the same name.
The borough is said to be the most diverse urban center in the world.
There’s a place for all of us. And a street, road, court, boulevard, circle and crescent – often the same ones.
“How do you get to 62nd?” I ask a man in the Corona section.
“Keep walking the way you walk,” he tells me.
“62nd Place or Road?” I ask. There are both.
“Either one,” he tells me. He doesn’t think it’s strange.
Drive or walk around Queens and here’s what you might find: streets next to each other with the same name. Or a numbered street that all of a sudden turns into a name, then later back to the number.
“It’s extremely frustrating to many people that visit here,” says Melinda Katz.
She is native-born and now raising two kids in the house she grew up in. She grew up to become Queens Borough President.
“It didn’t all develop at the same time,” she tells me. “There were different neighborhoods that popped up — in Flushing, and Jamaica, and Forest Hills, then White Pot. So as the neighborhoods developed, they developed their own street grid.”
Which is why at one time, Queens had 40 Washington Streets. But in 1898 they decided to make a standard grid. There were big roads and little roads in between.
“But avenues and streets weren’t enough, because then you’d have streets that were unnamed in between the avenues that needed names,” says Katz.
Even in 1898 there were politics. Who’s going to take someone’s name off a street sign?
“There was a lot of opposition to changing names,” she says. “But then they just determined to keep the names the same and add in these lanes, and crescents and all the roads and all of that.”
Numbers were a safe bet — even if they are the same. There could be four of the same numbered streets next to each other with a different suffix.
But it all still might be easier than the subways.
Don’t tell someone to meet you at the 23rd Street station, as someone told me. There are four of them on different lines next to each other in Manhattan.