Bangladesh on the border

You might have thought I skipped out on last week’s visit. I just delayed it for a bit, due both to some other obligations and to Ramadan.

That’s a strange excuse, since I’m not Muslim. Much of the area is, though, and going during Ramadan would have meant many closed establishments during the day (particularly restaurants). The month-long holiday ended this past weekend.

The Bangladeshi presence in the neighborhood is striking. (Nearly 90% of Bangladesh’s population is Muslim.) The culture was apparent in stores, delis, mosques, clothing, and even on one handmade advertisement.

The area is centered around Liberty Avenue. The stores are covered with ugly awnings, much like on Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville.

I took the A to its first stop in Queens, 80 St-Hudson St. It’s also the first station (going east) using the old Fulton Street El structure. This piece is the only evidence I could find.

Conduit Boulevard is an ugly waste of far too much space. I don’t know who is supposed to maintain the median, but I’m glad I was wearing long pants. I was standing on the border looking west for this shot.

The name City Line is in common use.

The border zigzags a fair bit, but that’s no excuse for not getting your name right. This guy is over a block too far west to be in Ozone Park.

Speaking of confusing, let’s talk about the street numbers on Drew Street. The west side is in Brooklyn; the east side, Queens. Each house here has two addresses.

I was amused by two young children on the Brooklyn side of 95th Avenue crying because their cat had run under a car on the Queens half. I doubt they appreciated the subtlety, or the headache that might have resulted had they called the wrong NYPD Precinct.

Bangladeshis were not the only culture represented: I saw a few Chinese establishments, a few signs indicating Guyanan provenance, and several Puerto Rican flags. Islam does not have a complete hold on the religious life of City Line, either.

I stopped at a few spots: a deli on McKinley Avenue, where the employees’ eyes were glued to a game show of some sort; a fabric store; and Bismillash Restaurant, where I had beef biryani and roti, a thin, crepe-like bread, while listening to conversations in what I assume was Bengali. (A television had on the station NTV.)

The residential architecture here is not much different from that of nearby East New York and Cypress Hills. (Bismillash is hosting a focus-group session of Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation tomorrow night, even though it’s a few blocks south of where many would draw that neighborhood’s boundary.)

There are a few exceptions, though. Some buildings have seen better days, and the Islamic research-center is an unusual low-rise.

I also found the headquarters of the Unknown Bikers Club, City Line chapter – certainly unexpected.

I left the area out of the Grant Av station. I had been to this station on my trip to East New York, which I took on a weekend. The park-and-ride lot did not see much more use on this weekday.

Ironic, given that the neighborhood is hemmed in by the six-lane speedways known as Conduit Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.

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2 Responses to Bangladesh on the border

  1. Thanks for exposing my little neighborhood to the world wide web. Every time anyone asks me where I live or where I’m from and I mention East New York or City Line, they either think I live in the projects or in Ridgewood. Either they pity me or are confused. I pity them for not exploring all of Brooklyn, from border to border.

    • Keith says:

      Thanks for coming by! I had never heard of City Line before I began this project, and I’m glad I visited. I imagine one could lose several hours in the stores on Liberty Avenue.

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