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The BQE

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Aside from Woody Allen and thin crust pizza, I believed the legacy of Brooklyn to be minimal. In my adolescence, I have visited relatives in Gravesend, been to bookstores in Park Slope and seen Christmas lights in Bay Ridge. Despite the frequency of these journeys across the island, I have no distinct recollection of the asphalt beneath my family’s mini van. To me, the road was a union between two places, a way from point A to point B.
As a native to Long Island, I am familiar with the BQE, but I had never heard that stretch of highway connecting southern Brooklyn to central Queens described as either beautiful or stimulating--until November 2, 2007. That night, the Brooklyn Academy of Music featured Sufjan Steven’s cinematic interpretation of the highway; accompanied by an orchestra performance of the music he composed for the film. Singer/songwriter and man-of-my-dreams, Stevens captured the elegance and chaos of a road that has preserved the history of a vibrant city.
In his movie, Stevens confirmed my belief about roads, but also expanded on it. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is a haven for distant families and cosmopolitan seeking suburbanites. It connects the ideas, emotions and passions of a community’s diverse sectors. It has witnessed the development of Williamsburg and the expansion of Suffolk County. Roads do more than aid in transportation. They preserve the history of an area, linking past and present as well as zip code to zip code.





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