Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The High Line of Queens: Rockaway Branch

     I have explored this site several times before, and I pay trips to it perhaps more frequently than other sites. The Rockaway Branch, which was a part of the LIRR, was shut down exactly fifty years before this post was written, due to a fire that blazed in 1962. Fast forward 50 years later and zoom through the thick foliage and you find me, standing by the rusting truss tower, waiting to climb up.
     The area was close to the A train which constantly passed by, and there were several main roads intersecting, where cars race along the concrete once the traffic lift shifts to a neon green. I looked up and glanced at the elevated platform, which was reminiscent of the High Line: a once abandoned railway that ran through Chelsea in Manhattan's West Side. The High Line has now been converted into a public park (and major tourist attraction). As my eyes zipped across the weaving steel beams of the tower, I realized: this may be my opportunity to feel something similar to what those explorers before me felt when they explored the High Line.

"You want to go for it?"
"I don't know. There are pedestrians everywhere, cars passing by, and a train overhead..."
"Look we're already there, and we don't know the next time we'll be in this area. We might as well climb the tower and get to the stretch."
"It's only eight though, and it's still pretty bright...people might notice...Alright, you know what? I'll flip a coin. Heads mean that I head for it, but tails means that I turn tail and go home."
-The silver coin spins through the air and clatters to the ground. Heads.-
"I don't like how there are so many people on the street."
"Yeah, I wish it were darker too."
"Well, you know how people do the Brooklyn Bridge? They just say 'Fuck it' and go."
"Alright, the cars have passed by. I'll climb up first."

 It was dark, and though we didn't have any flashlights, I loved the ambient glow given off by the nearby streetlamps. I loved the arcane knowledge that I was walking in the center of a raised viaduct, obstructed from pedestrians and vehicles oftentimes by thick foliage. While I can not go back in time and truly experience Manhattan's High Line, I think that I can safely say that this journey was one that was probably very similar.

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