Eyes on the Street: Welcome to Blissville, Queens
Blissville? More like Abyss-Ville.
The small section of Long Island City known as Blissville — an area bounded by Newtown Creek, Calvary Cemetery and the Long Island Expressway — is an endless cycle of massive big rigs, cars, and trucks, in which pedestrians and cyclists fight for their own small space, and to not get run over.
With a population of just over 1,110 residents, Blissville — named after Greenpoint founder and ferry operator Neziah Bliss — has been long forgotten, and its dilapidated infrastructure, crumbling streets, and lack of green space surely shows it. It’s the abandoned red-headed stepchild of Long Island City’s neighboring communities, locals say.
“We share the same ZIP code [as Long Island City], we’ve been fighting for a park, playground, or green space for over 50 years,” said Nina Perez, a member of the Blissville Civic Association, during a virtual Queens Community Board 2 meeting on April 7. “We deserve a place for our children to play, where our children are not worried about getting run over by a truck, or car, or garbage truck.”
Streetsblog visited the neglected neighborhood last week (how neglected? It hasn’t been mentioned on the Department of Transportation’s current project page ever). Here’s what our eyes on the street saw:
As soon as you step foot off the Greenpoint Avenue bridge — on which cars and trucks swerve into the unprotected bike lane that’s made even more dangerous by debris dropped from construction trucks — you’re sent straight into a clusterfuck of moving traffic on wide, untamed streets. There’s not even a small pedestrian island, curb cut, or designated safe place to wait for the light to change at the foot of the bridge on the Queens side.
And by crumbling, we literally mean pedestrian signals hanging by a thread. They’re still working, though.
It’s no wonder that since 2015 in this tiny neighborhood, there have been 662 total reported crashes, causing 165 injuries, including to 35 cyclists and 16 pedestrians, and two fatalities, two of which were pedestrians, according to Crash Mapper. Notice the sheer number of crashes at the first intersection over the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, which dumps traffic into a bizarre seven-way scrum:
The only hint of green space as far as the eye can see is inside Calvary Cemetery — not a place for kids to play, Perez said. And even the sidewalks surrounding the dead are littered with trash and abandoned cars.
“Calvary is not a green space,” she said.
But as hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, and even its own residents that live there as it is, Blissville is often unavoidable for bikers heading between Brooklyn and Queens, forcing them to share the road — unprotected — with speeding drivers.
And as if there wasn’t already enough space designated to the automobile in the small section of the ZIP code of 11101, drivers also park their cars wherever they please — on the sidewalk, in the middle of crosswalks, and double parked in the middle of the street.
The residents that live in Blissville say they just want to feel safer on their own streets and sidewalks, and finally have a park of their own.
“Our community remains part of the 1 percent of New Yorkers with no access to parks or playgrounds, despite our community asking for one for over 50 years,” said Maria Davis, vice president of the Blissville Civic Association, during the CB2 general meeting earlier this month. “We remain without a park, forgotten and neglected.”