Off the Beaten Path: Photographic Missions (Queens)

Off the Beaten Path: Photographic Missions (Queens)

Like many neighborhoods along the L-train, Ridgewood, Queens, which sits next to Brooklyn’s Bushwick and East Williamsburg, is pretty hipster-invaded. There’s nothing that a natural born weirdo dislikes more than someone who is simply in a weirdo costume.  Eh.  If you still have your appetite, you can check out the yummy sandwiches at Trans Am Cafe

The vegan sandwich is called The Chavez and it is pretty spectacular. It’s got avocado, a house “cured” (hmmm, marinated?) tempeh, tomatoes, arugula, and house made cashew pepper cheese.  Scrumptiously toasted and tasty, it hit all the notes. And speaking of notes, I am wondering if both Trans Am and Chavez are references to 90’s bands?  I liked the pickle too, a garlic-y no doubt local, artisanal, artisan, brine-to-fork, housemade, who the heck knows dill. 

While we gaze upon the cross section, I’ll explain how large Trans Am is.  They have a back room with spacious booths and some kind of performance space through the door parallel to the counter.  Once there, you can sneak out to the back patio with more sunny and shady seating.  So you can find your space and solitude if you don’t mind being surrounded by the shabby chic decor of the ungentrified neighboring businesses.  

On a hunt for old, rooted and ungentrified, I return to one of my favorite places I’ve photographed in the city.  Across from the new Kosciuszko Bridge (which has a Yelp for some reason), sits Calvary Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in the country. With millions of burials, it is also the most crowded cemetery in the country.  Typical New York City.  And like New York, Calvary is the final resting place of a wide range of folks–from decorated Civil War soldiers, mobsters, actors and actresses, and average “normal” people. The grounds are a mix of headstones ranging from 1848 to current day, though the most recent memorial places I observed were marked with temporary headstones, heartbreaking handmade rough wood etched in shaky Sharpie

The most beautiful parts of the cemetery are in the First Calvary section, the oldest. There you can best see Manhattan’s skyline peeking through the landscape. Though the skyline has changed a late since my last visit in 2006, especially in Long Island City, and the low trees have grown quite a bit, the layered effect of the skyline and rows of headstones is a unique site.  

Long Island City high rises under construction.

Ornate headstones hoped to get some attention from the people upstairs.


Fort Totten Park is a New York City Park in Bayside, Queens. Like many places in New York City, it has a lot going on. The Civil War-era fort has a long history but currently serves many purposes–a public pool, the home of the Bayside Historical Society, a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, FDNY EMS Training Academy, and space for the Army Reserve. It also has a slew of still abandoned buildings of its former time as an active army base. These buildings are in disrepair yet exist adjacent to still functioning buildings. Though it was sometimes difficult to tell which buildings were off-limits, we were able to explore freely. Below was the old Officer’s Club.DSC_0010

The largest of the abandoned buildings in disrepair. This was gated off.DSC_0014



There was plenty of housing. Some that seemed to still be inhabited… others like this. The doors were open, so we went in to explore. There was something easy about exploring the abandoned homes in the park. Perhaps it is because we were surrounded by Army men running, FDNY, etc. DSC_0040

Some kind of box office.DSC_0053

Another abandoned home.DSC_0038

Nature taking over…DSC_0066


There was another part of Fort Totten’s history we were able to explore, the Fort Totten Water Battery.  So many wonders within this quiet park tucked in across from the Throgs Neck Bridge! These Torpedo Magazines were built between 1873 and 1876 and were used during the Spanish American War. 

Inside. Looking up.

The cannon rooms, now with stalactites and stalgmites. 

More stuff. I think we were off the map here.

And back to the cannon rooms.

A transport tunnel, closed.

Embrasures that would recoil after a cannon was fired. And the Throgs Neck Bridge.

We worked up quite an appetite exploring so it was onward to lunch. We headed to New York Ganesh Temple, Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam, a Hindu temple with a cafeteria style eatery downstairs with all-veggie eats: Temple Canteen. But first, a few shots of its ornate exterior.

Follow the signs to the downstairs for real Indian food.

Though everything is vegetarian, dairy is a-plenty. But the counterperson helped us decide what to get. 

Ok, so I dove into the dosa before taking a pictures. Amateur move! But I was so very hungry. It was delicious, of course. 

The “Mini Lunch” had a selection of yummy rices. 

What a day of off the beaten path attractions in Queens!