Jesse Jarnow

willets point, 5/06

Walking from home plate at Shea Stadium, across second base, through the outfield, over the fence and to the other side of the parking lot, one arrives in Willets Point, a sprawling near-shantytown of car repair places. Before tonight’s five-hour, 16-inning blowout victory against the Phillies, Tony and I wandered through Willets Point at Magic Hour. The roads were unpaved and riddled with puddles. There were chop shops, pre-fab warehouses, body specialists, and lots filled with tires. Tony said it felt like being suddenly transported to a third world nation. He wasn’t wrong. It was pure urban anarchy.

When the Mets’ new stadium goes up in a few years, it’s a sure bet that somebody will have some whizbang revitalization plans that will involve the removal of the unsightly car repair places (the cheapest in the boroughs, supposedly) currently clogging up valuable waterfront real estate. For now, though, the scrap metal glows in the Queens County sunset.

You can see Shea’s upper deck in the distance…

4 Comments

  1. ned says: - reply

    But did you make it through the whole game?? Happy I just sat through it all on TV.

  2. Randy says: - reply

    Great imagery, Jesse. Weird synchronocity. Got into a discussion yesterday with a friend about suburban sprawl, urban gentrification and the search for clean air environments. I was going to send you a link from this book he recommended but I forgot. Then, I saw your blog. Well, check out this book…
    Invisible New York : The Hidden Infrastructure of the City
    There are many surprises among the 53 black-and-white photographs in Stanley Greenberg’s hymn to the hum of the city that never sleeps. There is a revealing shot of the roof structure above the curved vault of Grand Central Station’s night-sky ceiling that shows where those light bulbs are screwed in to form the delicate constellations commuters see every day. The anchorages of several city bridges–the chambers where the powerful cables that hold up the roadways are fastened down–are exposed to view, peeling paint, trash, and all. There is a gleaming shot of a working Con Edison turbine and a cluttered view of a derelict power station at Floyd Bennett Field, the city’s first municipally owned commercial airport.
    Anyone who likes the idea of exploring the city’s underpinnings instead of the subways, piers, or buildings themselves will love Invisible New York, which also contains an index in which Greenberg imparts fascinating information about each site.

  3. Jesse says: - reply

    Hell yes! On the post-midnight train ride home, I even got into a conversation with the Mets addict sitting next to me (who, like me, will be heading back tonight) who turned out — of course — to be a stark, raving Brent-era Deadhead/attorney-at-law. He offered his services, should I ever need them.

  4. dave g. says: - reply

    a Deadhead/attorney-at-law hopelessly addicted to the Mets? What’s his name? Sounds like a facsimile of yours truly, except I watched that game from my couch.