Travelling back and forth on the N or W trains from Queensboro Plaza to Ditmars Boulevard (a beloved route for many an old-time Astorian), one can’t help but notice the numerous construction cranes filling the skies and the abundance of buildings both newly created and still in progress, rising up like glass and steel behemoths gone wild. I’ve photographed and wrote of these changes many times before and at first was kind of excited to see the rebirth of this city within a city. Now, I am over whelmed at the rapid expansion, as the goal seems to be to put up as many buildings as can be crammed into a single space as fast as possible and when done, find another space and start building there, and so on and so on until there they are cheek to jowl, as it were, with the subway platform!

These building are so crowded together that the only view anyone living or working in these new super structures would have, is of another building’s windows! In fact those very urban vistas visible from the elevated tracks that I so love to look at and photograph, are nearly gone. My only view of my weekday, going to work sunrises are from the Ditmars and Astoria Boulevard platforms. I used to be able to watch the sky change colors as I rode all the way to Queensboro Plaza. Now, I only get a quick peek between buildings.

This past grey, cold and very windy November Sunday, I rode the N train with the sole purpose of capturing the old and irresolute urban landscape of my home town. I got off  at every other stop or a stop that had a view I could capture along 31st Street. From the platform of each stop I had a “roofscape” spread out before me, filled with grunge and other roof top junk, as well as the skyline of Manhattan in the distance. Sadly, these old homes that the roofs sit upon, are destined to be sold and knocked down at some point in the near future and another huge “luxury” apartment building will go up in its place.

When I got off at Queensboro Plaza I wandered up and down the upper platform, feeling slightly claustrophobic as I got a close up look at the tightly packed architecture looming over me. There is very little variety in the style of each building as the theme seems to be “tall!” Alas, to an urban photographer, like myself, I confess I found a beauty in their symmetry that I nor my camera could ignore and filled my memory card with their images.

Change is not so easily accepted as it once was when I saw through the eyes of a younger women.

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8 thoughts on “The Continuing Rise of LIC’s Skyline

  1. The roofscapes are intriguing and compared to the new, towering structures, create their own narrative!!! Character and style of new construction appear similar from a distance; the details and fine points are more defined when close up. Still, a statement and commentary of changing times are affirmed, not necessarily better just more modern and sleek! Excellent and explicit photography, yet deftly defined in black and white. Urban realism laid bare!!

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  2. A fine set of monos Cate – the problem is that these new buildings are not on a human scale and thus have no heart and no soul. One day, they will be demolished too but with no great sense of loss. It is happening everywhere.

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  3. Another wonderful journey as always Cate! I’m so glad you chose monochrome too – it feels so appropriate and I really enjoyed lingering over some of these, especially the rooftops. This will be valuable documentary footage – and sadly as you say, probably quite soon.

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  4. I managed to spot a couple of trees! We seem to be making cities that could be on mars for all the nature in them! And that bothers me. Here the pressure to build affordable homes is immense – then homes are built but aren’t really affordable.

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