Every single day I ride on an urban iron horse that whooshes along the rails high above my home town of Astoria. Every single day is the same scene but, every day I see it differently.

As the train pulls out of Queensboro Plaza, making that wide slow turn onto 31st Street, I plant myself in front of the doors, resting one side of my body against the metal railing of the corner seat next to me to balance myself as the train rocks and rolls. I stagger from one side of the car to the next, looking at the familiar scene below me and smile as I take one shot after the other, filling up my iPhone’s memory card.  My fellow riders don’t pay me any attention and that is good because I am focused only on what I see out of the grimy door windows, spotted with the remains of greasy raindrops and sooty snow flakes that add a terrific gritty texture to each shot. I’m mesmerized by the hundreds of windows I see as I look out from the subway car; crowds of eyes looking up asking where are you going, where  have you been?

The Astoria landscape, decorated with edgy graffiti, mixed with old factories and raging construction against a fading back drop of urban residential, seen from above, has a grotesque beauty that draws me to it, every day. I see too, that the neighborhood of my childhood is disappearing one house at a time; like a pulled a tooth, it leaves a gaping hole on the block and a bit of a hole in my heart. As the train gets closer to Ditmars I take photos of the neighborhood landmarks like Mike’s Diner where, with my teenage girlfriends I ate burgers and fries, and smoke a forbidden cigarette behind the diner.

For sure it is an eclectic neighborhood but, it is a good and friendly neighborhood and I love living here.

This is the last stop! Please check your belongings and watch your step as you exit the train and thank you for riding with Cate!

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10 thoughts on “N Train To Astoria

  1. A view from the train, not often seen by many but certainly a calming perspective while riding above the traffic and gridlock. The neat, little rows of houses and stores which remain indelible, and the places of one’s youth, return in vivid imagery and memory. Change is not always welcome but, alas, some familiar places remain, a little older, perhaps but still a presence and a reminder of hamburgers and fries!! Lookin’ good, Astoria!!

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  2. Inspiring set Cate – the view from high level trains always fascinates. My favourite stretch used to be leaving Manchester heading south over derelict industrial sprawl and mucky canals – I expect it has changed utterly now. Perhaps I should find out.

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  3. Love this! It is hard to see a place you go every day in a different way. I lived in Queens for a summer, not far from your stop. It was an interesting experience because I was so used to Park Slope, my dad’s childhood home, which has also virtually disappeared as he knew it.

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