"My mystery spot in Queens"
Yes, Hazen Street leads you to the entrance to Rikers Island (on 19th Avenue - I've written another review about that). Come just a few blocks away from that infamous entrance, however, and you'll be at what I have come to regard as my "mystery spot in Queens."
On one side of Hazen Street is 49th Street. It is followed by 48th, 47th, 46th and so on. However, just the other side of Hazen Street is 72ND STREET, followed by 73rd, 74th and so on. How does this happen? Actually the first time I saw it (I was just wandering the neighborhood) I though neighborhood kids had done something with the signs. As I continued to walk, however, I realized they couldn't have changed ALL the signs.
So I've come to accept it as the anomaly that it seems to be. It's Queens, and anything can happen here. And probably does.
"How to Get to Rikers Island"
My end of 19th Avenue is the end nearest La Guardia Airport. My daughter refers to the area as "one of the safest in the entire city of New York." Why? Because La Guardia has all those Homeland Security types hanging about, protecting us from terrorists both foreign and domestic, right?
Well, just a short walk from La Guardia, on 19th Avenue off of Ditmars, is the entrance to Rikers Island. Yes, THE Rikers Island you hear about on all those Law and Order shows. So how many police officers do you think have to come into the neighborhood on any given day? No wonder we feel safe!
The neighborhood is quiet and the people are friendly. After all, it's easier to get a cop here than almost anywhere else!
"Great place for fireworks watching"
The absolute best thing about Shore Boulevard is Astoria Park. Of course, Astoria Park is one of the best things about living in Queens! Though it can be extremely crowded on almost any nice day in the spring or summer, you just can't beat hanging out here, next to the water, with all the conveniences of having your neighborhood right next door. People are ethnically diverse (and seem to get more so every year) and for the most part are friendly.
Along Shore Boulevard you are on the East River. Just to the south of where you are, the East River meets up with the Harlem River, and they float past Manhattan. It's so close to all that "civilization" but it's far enough away that you don't have to get caught up in it.
"Multiple personality arterial in Queens"
Ditmars Blvd has multiple personalities, ranging from totally-retail at one end - lots of small shops, a big box store or two, meat shops, post offices and phone card stores; to the other end, near La Guardia Airport, lined with long limousines awaiting passenger arrivals. In between are a number of hotels - many of them big-name chains like Marriott, Marriott Courtyard and Clarion.
Ditmars runs through a number of truly residential areas, with duplexes and triplexes abounding, anchored at either end of some blocks with a tiny local grocery store. It can be confusing to travel along Ditmars because of the weird manner in which the streets are numbered, but once you get the logic down - or the lack of logic - all is good.
Renton Ave South
"Is this Renton?"
No.... but if you follow Renton Avenue south far enough, you'll get to Renton! Renton Avenue South starts out in a solid residential area in southeast Seattle, traveling south through the Rainier Valley and Rainier Beach neighborhoods and on into Renton. Locals know if the freeway northbound is jammed on a rainy Monday morning, you can sneak over to Renton Avenue South and use the surface streets to avoid traffic, then re-enter the freeway farther north. Or you can sit on the freeway and wait for the traffic to clear!
Lake Dell Ave
"A short and winding road..."
...leads you down the side of the hill to Lake Washington. Lake Dell only exists for a few blocks, but the magnificent views of Lake Washington that peek through on your ride down the hill make it worth the trip. Somehow those buses manage to snake their way down that hill - how that does happen? Anchored at the top of the hill by Leschi Elementary School, Lake Dell takes you down to the lake where you can enjoy fish and chips during the summer, or coffee at Starbucks anytime!
14th Ave East
"Quiet and peaceful...right off the main drag"
While 15th Avenue East is the "main line" of Capitol Hill, 14th Avenue East provides a tree lined residential area of large homes and small apartment buildings and condos. Safeway is an anchor at 14th/15th and John Streets, but my favorite place in the neighborhood is Remedy Teas between 14th and 15th on E Republican. Here you can kick back and drink TEA - a veritable tea oasis in a city of coffee-on-every-corner. Remedy has over 100 different teas to choose from, and they offer small pastries, cookies and savories to enjoy.
East Boston St
"Gorgeous drive on Capitol Hill"
East Boston Street on Capitol Hill has one of the most beautful views of the city, overlooking the Montlake Cut and leading to Lake Washington, near the University of Washington. The drive from Capitol Hill north on 15th Avenue East leads you to East Boston Street and you meander down the hill to Eastlake. If you are walking or jogging, you might take a break at the little viewpoint on 15th just south of Boston Street, taking in the view.
South Mc Clellan St
"A tree lined walk toward Lake Washington..."
South McClellan Street offers a gorgeous walk from the shore of Lake Washington south of the Interstate 90 floating bridge, skirting along the south edge of Mount Baker Park. For several years there has been a little coffee place on McClellan where you can stop and have coffee and a treat before heading back down to the lake to continue your walk or jog. Wander around and take a look at the old, beautiful houses on this part of Mount Baker - with killer views of the water!
South Van Ness Ave
"NOT the same as Van Ness!"
Once Van Ness crosses the line at Market/Mission Streets, it becomes SOUTH
Van Ness - and takes on a whole new persona. While Van Ness is a major arterial through San Francisco (and just about the only way to get from the Golden Gate to the rest of Highway 101), South Van Ness runs through the residential area of the Mission District until it ends at Cesar Chavez (still known to old-timers as "Army Street"). South Van Ness holds the reputation of having two gas stations with the least expensive gas in the city - at 16th and 17th Streets. There aren't a lot of traffic lights on South Van Ness - but there are a number of four-way stops. Take your time and check out the houses!
"A slice of suburban life..."
Cranwood Court is almost a stereotype of what you think of when you say "suburbs." Little diversity, lots of sunshine, kids on bikes all on a street that deadends into a cul de sac. Why is everyone so blonde here?? Quiet at night, East Bay HOT during the long summer days, and almost far enough out that on a clear, starry night you can count the stars.....
"Changing street in a changing area..."
Quesada at 3rd Street is along the "new" version of 3rd Street, thanks to the opening of the Muni light rail along 3rd. Installation of the light rail has significantly improved access to downtown San Francisco for all of us Bayview residents. Now it's possible to take BART to San Francisco from the East Bay, transfer to the light rail on King Street and then ride all the way to the 49ers games! Quesada is one of the "alphabet" residential streets (they run in alphabetical order - Palou, Quesada, Revere, etc.) that intersect 3rd Street in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in The City.
"How do I get to Embarcadero from here??"
For a street that's only perhaps five blocks long (from Market Street to Bryant Street), Main Street runs the gamut for street ambience. It even changes its personality from daytime to evening. On the Market/Mission Street end, there's the Federal Reserve Bank - complete with terrorist-deterrent concrete blocks and 24-hour guards. On the other end, you're just a half block from the killer views of The Embarcadero. At night walking along Main Street can be a bit dice-y - what appears to be a pile of loose newspapers could have someone sleeping beneath them. But you can't beat parking along Main Street and then walking to a baseball game in June. The parking's a lot cheaper than the spaces closer to the ballpark, and you can enjoy The Embarcadero on your way.
"Where fruits and vegetables get their start in The City!"
Jerrold Avenue is home to the San Francisco Produce Market. Virtually all fruits and vegetables sold in The City - even those purporting to be organic - come through the SF Produce Market. Beginning at midnight or 1:00 AM, huge trucks rumble down Jerrold Avenue toward the Produce Market, ready to offload pallet after pallet of boxes of lettuce, apples, carrots - you name it. Later in the morning, smaller trucks from the purveyors who deliver to San Francisco restaurants, markets and delis will roll in for their loads. BE CAREFUL DRIVING DOWN JERROLD IN THE MORNINGS - the truck drivers have the right of way!
"Somewhere with a dynamite view...."
Gardenside Drive, just below the crest of Twin Peaks, has some of the most awesome views of The City! Some folks get cranky when the fog rolls in - it feels like a soppy, wet, misty blanket doing its best to make your hair curl. But when the sun is out, and The City is laid out at the bottom of the hills in all its glory - nothing beats having a cup of coffee outside on the deck. Gardenside is only 1/2 block from the end of the Corbett bus line, giving you easy access to the world "down the hill" - if that's where you want to go. Otherwise, kick back and enjoy the view!
"You can get anything you want...."
24th Street, from one end to the other, is a microcosm of so much that San Francisco has to offer. From Twin Peaks to Potrero, you can find anything from adult novelties in the Castro to handmade tortillas at La Palma "Mexicatessan." Moms with strollers crowd the sidewalk outside Starbucks at 24th and Noe, while moms crowd into El Pollo Supremo at 24th and Folsom. I love 24th Street!