Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Border Can Define a Neighborhood

Robert Caro maintained that highways destroyed the neighborhoods of the Bronx.

I wondered if this was true for Blissville, out in Queens next to the BQE and the LIE. But the older men and women who grew up here in the 1930's told me the neighborhood was always a little marginal, divided more by industry (the horse tannery and beer breweries) than the LIE which had been there since 1939.

If you want to visit, there are two exits, Greenpoint Avenue and Van Dam (the last exit before the tunnel).

Leaving Blissville is as easy as arriving, with entrances to highways north, east, south and west. It's a vertible hub of highways.

But for those of us who live here the highways are just background noise, so ever present we forget their presence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Every feels half-finished in Blissville. Sometimes I think it's a metaphor for my life. But perhaps another person would see it differently.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's in a Name?

Pull out your Hagstrom's, and page to where you can see the edges of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Run your finger down the creek dividing Queens and Brooklyn, the Newtown Creek, and you'll find the red block letters. Blissville.

I found this marginal neighborhood in The New York Times nearly twenty years ago when looking for an apartment. The address I sought was a few blocks away from the creek. But anything is possible when studying a map. And so I imagined at least a peek of the canal from a window. I didn't realize that a few blocks could have been a few miles. The apartment faced front and back over a mish-mash of aluminum-sided houses.

But it had old wooden floors and light everywhere. The highway hummed in the background, but the streets outside were quiet, the neighborhood still. I took that apartment right then and there, and made my home in Blissville.