08 January 2008

The Gowanus

The Brooklyn Queens Expressway is a mess which runs from southern Brooklyn to the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. It is a portion of I- 278. But despite its number, it does not connect to I-78.

The majority of I-278 is in New York City and passes through all five boroughs. The portion that goes through New Jersey is sometimes called the Union Freeway.

I always considered I-78, which runs 144 miles from I-81 northeast of Harrisburg through Allentown and northern New Jersey to the Holland Tunnel and downtown NYC, the reentry window back into the real world from outer space. And if you miss this portal you'll be burned alive and explode into smithereens or some shit.

When a small meteor enters the Earth's atmosphere, it goes from traveling through a vacuum to traveling through air. Traveling through a vacuum is effortless, it takes no energy. Traveling through air is another story. A meteor moving through the vacuum of space typically travels at speeds reaching tens of thousands of miles per hour. When the meteor hits the atmosphere, the air in front of it compresses incredibly quickly. When a gas is compressed, its temperature rises. This causes the meteor to heat up so much that it glows. The air burns the meteor until there is nothing left. Re-entry temperatures can reach as high as 3,000 degrees.

The BQE was built from the 1950's, and was completed in 1964 as a crowning achievement of, the always polarising at dinner parties and charity events, Robert Moses.

The part of I-278 which passes over the Gowanus Canal leading to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, as well as its southern extension to the Verrazano Bridge, is known as the Gowanus Expressway. AGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Part of the Gowanus was built on the structure of the BMT Fifth Avenue Line, a closed elevated railway. The Fifth Avenue Line or the Fifth Avenue-Bay Ridge Line was an elevated rail line in Brooklyn which ran above Hudson Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Fifth Avenue, 38th Street, and Third Avenue from Downtown Brooklyn south to Bay Ridge. And on its second day of operation, a Hudson Avenue train crashed into a Myrtle Avenue train.

Photo of the north end of the original 4-lane Gowanus Expressway in 1954, before it was widened. The exit to the right now serves the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel is straight ahead. Note that tunnel toll is 35 cents, instead of today's $28.95 plus S&H

It seems like ever since it was built people have been figuring out ways to get rid of this emerald green eyesore.

There was some green/dreamscape article in the Daily News yesterday about the American Institute of Architecture's idealist design for a Calatrava-looking suspended highway closer to the water with a 4-mile-long greenway replacing the rusted emerald Godzilla.

Then we've got another artist or architecture design firm who dreams of burying the aesthetic blight to the communities it straddles under the rug into an underground tunnel conjuring up nightmares of Boston's 16-year long Big Dig.

This particular fantasy would cost about $12 billion I believe.

And the most recent artists rendering comes from these guys who suggest we flood the BQE turning the depressed part of the expressway that runs through Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill into a fucking canal à la the Canal de l'Ourcq in Paris or the Gondola highways of Venice.

I must admit however, this "artists rendering" is pretty fucking cool in an apocalyptic sorta way sans Will Smith though I know it will never happen.

Why don't we just throw a big sheet over the whole thing? Put a plant and a few books on top of it. No one will notice its there. Like a slipcover over a dog vomit stain on your Huffman Koos loveseat.

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