This is Blissville, a hodge-podge of garages interspersed between other businesses. This garage sits on the corner of Greenpoint. One one side is the floral shop with fake flowers, on the other, the Long Island Expressway. Once it was also a gas station but only the sign remains. Its prices attracted only desperate drivers before their journey out easy on the Expressway, which has a history of its own.
This expressway was the vision of city planner Robert Moses. Construction began in the late 1930s. By 1940, a six-lane viaduct towered over Long Island City. It ended just below this corner, what is now known as Exit 16.
Decade by decade Moses extended his highway. By 1960 it reached the edge of Queens. Out on Long Island, in Nassau County, the highway proceeded in segments, thought not contiguous. Construction continued until all the parts connected.
In 1966, the highway stretched out to Exit 61 in Patchogue, a town back then of both closing factories and hopeful vacationers looking for sunny beaches.
The highway was completed as we know it today in 1972 in Riverhead. Exit 73 is its last exit. Back then drivers emptied out into a landscape of potato fields. Today it dumps them onto a route that leads to a complex of malls. Tourists from as far as Japan arrive in busloads to shop for designer garments by Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.
Take the highway one early Sunday morning and watch the light out east fill the horizon. Outside the window enjoy the suburbs with their strips of stores flying by. Whizz by the new developments of housing springing out farmland. Pass through the scrub of pinelands. By now Exit 70 will have arrived, then 71, then 72, and with it, signs that announce the highway's terminus. Even so, it arrives suddenly and simply expires.