Friday, March 31, 2017

Circumnavigating Long Island Part 8: Flushing to Bowery Bay -- Walking Around LaGuardia

To many, Long Island has a very strong sense of place. In this series, I seek to highlight the distinct regional character of the place by posting photos taken while walking its circumference starting from my home in Port Washington, heading west toward Brooklyn along the shore, back around to the southern shores to Montauk and Orient, and then back across the north shore to Port Washington. Since I have a day job and do not relish suburban and urban camping, I break these walks into pieces. 

Today's post focuses on northern Queens starting in Flushing, past LaGuardia Airport, to Bowery Bay. Essentially, this walk circles the southern and western edge of LaGuardia Airport. For each segment, I stay on public roads, trails, and/or beaches that get as close to the shore as possible. I don't go on dead ends and I avoid dangerous stretches where walking is problematic due to traffic. Hopefully, the series of photo essays provides insight into the geography of this region at this particular point in time. Previous segments are linked at the bottom of this post.

A view of Flushing Creek from the Northern Boulevard Bridge looking toward the north and the Whitestone Expressway.
The pedestrian section of the Northern Boulevard Bridge. It is so bouncy that I thought we had an earthquake.

Citi Field, home of the Mets, is just south of the bridge.
One of the dominant aspects about this leg of the walk is the presence of LaGuardia Airport. This leg of the walk goes around the airport. Thus planes are present in many of the images. While I cannot show sound, this was a very loud walk.

Tucked away between Flushing Bay and the main expressway that services La Guardia Airport (Grand Central Parkway) is a very nice, but loud waterfront park and walkway (Flushing Bay Promenade). The park and walkway are a nice respite from the intense industrial land uses along much of Flushing Bay.

The City of New York has an asphalt plant at the southwest portion of Flushing Bay.

A view toward LaGuardia Airport from the southernmost section of the Promenade.

The promenade and waterfront park are part of a large park complex that extends to the south called Flushing Meadows Corona Park which was the home to the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs. 

The promenade is really quite lovely, although the combination of the airport and the parkway noises made me turn up the volume on the podcast I had playing through headphones.

A view of Flushing Bay with an airplane that just took off from LaGuardia.

I took this image to get a sense of how narrow the park is in many places. Here, the Grand Central Parkway abut a parking lot which itself is right next to the promenade. Citi Field is in the background.

There are quite a few water birds present along the promenade.

City of New York Parks often have wonderful artwork. Along the promenade are a series of posts that have carved stonework representing the alphabet through a plant and an animal. Here, I discovered Y.

This map shows the extent of the park. I was only in the far left along Flushing Bay. To see images of the areas to the right, see this post I wrote about the park.

There is a nice marina and boat launch in this park...

...with lots of slips.

I love these mid-century shelters. They go with the mid-century vibe of the 1964 World's Fair.

A typical view along the path.

Dredging along the bay.

There is a Neptune fountain along the park near a banquet hall that is run by the marina.

The banquet hall along the pathway. For those of you who know LaGuardia Airport, this is right by the gas station before you get to the airport.

Looking toward LaGuardia...

....another view...

...and another at the end of the parkway. This is about as close as you can get to the airport along the walking trail.

At the northern end of the park, one has to cross over Grand Central Parkway on a pedestrian bridge...

...which ends in a residential neighborhood...

...which has some airport hotels...

...and some long term parking facilities.

There are also access points to the airport from the neighborhood.

Another section near Ditmars Boulevard. Residential areas are interspersed with rental car operations.

Another street view...

...and another.

There is an aviation school near the site with a variety of airplanes and engines for student study...

...and buildings with classrooms.

Because of the odd shape of roadways near the airport and bay, there are several small pocket parks tucked along the edge of the airport.

There is also a ton of parking for airport employees and a center for buses.

Another overpass over Grand Central Parkway as I headed toward Bowery Bay.

The Bowery Bay Neighborhood near the extreme western edge of LaGuardia Airport.

Lobos de Queens.


Previous Circumnavigating Long Island Posts

Part 1. Port Washington to Manhasset
Part 2. Manhasset, Kings Point, Great Neck, Little Neck

Sunday, March 26, 2017

China's Smog Woes Compounded by New Wind Patterns Caused by Climate Change

Smog in Beijing. Click for photo credit.
The New York Times published an interesting article by Javier Hernández on China's continuing smog woes. I am sure all of the readers of On the Brink have heard about the debilitating smogs in Beijing that occur when pollution gets trapped in the city. China's top down managers even temporarily closed major industries and power plants during the Olympics several years ago to try to put a pleasant, non-polluted face on the sporting event. Of course the smog returned when the industry and coal burning power plants were allowed to resume normal operations.

Over the last several years, China moved aggressively to reduce pollution and the use of coal burning power plants. Pollution output decreased and the government has been praised for its strong actions.

But it appears as if it wasn't enough. The smog continues.

But why?

It seems as if wind patterns have changed. Not only have they changed, but in places like Beijing, the wind speed has decreased. Pollution is not gone with the wind. While reductions in pollution have occurred, the lack of a cleansing wind makes it seem as if nothing has changed.

Of course a decrease in wind speed in one spot does not indicate that winds are decreasing globally. In contrast, according to this article, it is expected that jet stream wind speeds will increase significantly--along with aircraft turbulence.

The Times article is a good reminder that temperature is not the only variable that is changing as a result of global climate change.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lowest Sea Ice Extent in the Poles Since 1979

Click for photo credit.
According to a new report from NASA, the winter sea ice extent at the poles is the lowest it has been since 1979, the year they started keeping accurate records using satellites. The total area that is missing is 790,000 square miles. This area is roughly three times the size of Texas or slightly larger than the country of Mexico.

Earlier this year, NASA also announced that 2016 was the warmest year on record. They equate the warming planet directly to global climate change.

In the mean time, the foxes are in the hen house.

Climate change deniers and energy executives are running the environmental policy of the United States. While having industrial leaders in cabinet positions is nothing new, what has changed in this administration is the presence of industrial leaders who are deeply hostile to the mission and rules of the agencies they are sworn to protect.

As evidence for climate change continues to mount, I expect that the public's temperature will boil over on these appointments and the overall hostility toward environmental protection.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Coal Choking in Global Markets

The London Smog of 1952 was driven
largely by odd weather conditions and pollution
from coal-burning power plants. Today, many
areas of the world that experience this type
of pollution, notably China and India, are trying
to eliminate their reliance on coal and moving to
cleaner energy sources.  Click for photo credit.
After the presidential election, I made several environmental predictions for the coming four years that are already coming true. One of the predictions was, Coal Stays Dead. A major theme of the Trump campaign was that he was going to bring back coal jobs to Appalachia. The reality is that the global market for coal is down and political support for coal is like providing political support to victrola manufacturers or Blockbuster video stores. Coal is your grandfather's energy source. It is dirty, out of date, inefficient, and there are many cleaner and more efficient energy sources out there. Plus it takes one person today to do the same job of many coal miners of the past.

Don't just listen to me. Look at the market.

The Guardian reported earlier this week that coal producing power plants are declining significantly around the world. Nations are moving to much cleaner fuel sources like natural gas, wind, and solar. While the U.S. could artificially support the coal industry, the long-term prognosis is not good given the global energy market.

As I wrote in this piece earlier this year, coal will always have a place in the U.S. energy portfolio, but it will diminish in significance as our technology moves us forward into cleaner and greener energy sources. Coal jobs today are like the blacksmith jobs of the past. We are moving into a time of artisanal coal.

The question that becomes important in the global energy market is whether or not it is best to move forward with technological advances in energy production. Even though the U.S. has an abundance of coal, it also has an abundance of other energy sources. As the debate advances in this country on energy policy, the global market is going to be a large driver in whatever happens with coal. Right now, the future of coal is not strong.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Circumnavigating Long Island Part 7: College Point to Flushing

To many, Long Island has a very strong sense of place. In this series, I seek to highlight the distinct regional character of the place by posting photos taken while walking its circumference starting from my home in Port Washington, heading west toward Brooklyn along the shore, back around to the southern shores to Montauk and Orient, and then back across the north shore to Port Washington. Since I have a day job and do not relish suburban and urban camping, I break these walks into pieces. 

'Today's post focuses on northern Queens along the eastern shore of Flushing Bay from College Point to Flushing. For each segment, I stay on public roads, trails, and/or beaches that get as close to the shore as possible. I don't go on dead ends and I avoid dangerous stretches where walking is problematic due to traffic. Hopefully, the series of photo essays provides insight into the geography of this region at this particular point in time. Previous segments are linked at the bottom of this post.

Macneil Park, a lovely park at the tip of College Point was named for a sculptor who lived in the neighborhood.

There are nice views of the East River from park trails. 

A view toward Whitestone from the park.

Part of the trail was damaged by erosion. There is a nice view of Manhattan across Flushing Bay.

Another Manhattan view.

Of course directly across Flushing Bay from College Point is LaGuardia Airport.

Compared with previous communities I encountered, the waterfront in College Point is distinctly industrial with higher density housing where present.

Nick from Queens was here.

There are some newer upscale condos and apartment complexes...

...along with some older ones.

A typical street view in a residential area.

But industrial development along the waterway dominates.

A typical industrial street view along Flushing Bay. For some reason, I felt like I was about to see Batman show up in this neighborhood.

There are some post-industrial housing developments that are being developed along the waterway...

...however, cars in this parking lot along Flushing Bay tend to have the best views.

This residential neighborhood was adjacent to the industrial waterway.

There are lots of places for sale and rent.

The Poppenhusen Institute. It housed the first free kindergarten in the United States (built in 1868).

Some of the older buildings are in need of a little love...

...but they are used, like this older apartment building.

The mix of old industrial and residential land uses along the waterway is striking.

Some of the multifamily developments have been renovated to be rather fancy. It is hard to tell in this photo, but very impressive entry ways and stone-lined driveways set some of the units apart.

A typical street scene in a zone of multifamily developments.

Some fancy redevelopment can be found along some of the shore.

The Crystal Evangelical Church caters to a largely Korean congregation.

This residential street also has a home for the aged along the waterway in the distance. 

More high-density residential development can be found in the southern portion of College Point.

A typical industrial landscape in the southern portion of College Point along Flushing Bay.

This is a very fancy entry into this industrial building.

The City of New York has trash processing and snow plowing operations for this part of Queens based in this area.

Look what I found! The home of my favorite coffee, Vassilaros Coffee!

As one gets closer to Flushing, the traffic and density increase.

This particular area had a number of building supply businesses...

...including this cement plant...

...a metalworks store...

...and a lumber business.

From here, I will leave College Point and take the road above toward LaGuardia Airport.


Previous Circumnavigating Long Island Posts

Part 1. Port Washington to Manhasset
Part 2. Manhasset, Kings Point, Great Neck, Little Neck