Planes Trains & Automobiles
Parks: what’s there not to dislike?
A group of parks activists in Queens have been pushing “QueensWay,” a linear park that would be built atop the old Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road in the central and southern parts of the borough. As New York Times opinion writer Eleanor Randolph put it in her pro-QueensWay piece, it “has no celebrity patrons, no Diane von Furstenberg, no Barry Diller, no big-name donors to give enough seed money to turn the park into a fashion statement.”
But with a High Line-like makeover, she wrote, “QueensWay would offer both a walkway and a bike path. There could be small shops or stands featuring cheese guava buns, dim sum dumplings, pani puri or yam fufu.”
The High Line has been such a staggering success, it has created impersonators across the country and the world. And who can blame them, when the project has generated an estimated $2 billion in economic activity on a public investment of only $150 million.
But what if instead of building a park, a subway or light rail line ran along the Far West Side?
It is not a ludicrous idea. Light rail has proven a boon in downtown Portland and elsewhere, and with the extension of the 7 train to Hudson Yards, the line could well have hooked up with the High Line and made a whole swath of under-developed Manhattan real estate more accessible.
A glittery park has achieved just as much, but this exact same debate is taking place in Queens,