Monday, April 23, 2007

Jamaica Avenue letters

Letters to the NY Times, Published: April 22, 2007

Seeing the Sights on Jamaica Avenue

To the Editor:

My mouth is watering for cheap West Indian takeout after David McAninch’s richly rendered stroll down Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens (April 15). But I am amused at the unapologetic ethnocentrism of calling it “A Road Not Taken, Much.”

The article describes the commercial blocks of Jamaica Avenue as a pulsing “Main Street, U.S.A.,” teeming with businesses and shoppers “conveyed from far and wide.” Yet the headline and the whole premise is that this is undiscovered territory, one of “a city’s less-traveled wards.”

Of course, I know what you mean. Even though I lived for six years in such a ward, in Yonkers, I know that you mean untraveled by people like us, Times readers. But can we still say things like that, in an age when we can’t say Columbus “discovered” America without using self-conscious quotation marks?

Ethan Feinsilver
Arlington, Mass.

To the Editor:

My earth science teacher in high school explained that Jamaica Avenue was situated on the geological terminal moraine, whereupon the glaciers of millions of years past deposited their detrita. This fact apparently accounts for the many cemeteries on the western end of the thoroughfare, since the ground was too rocky to permit much building. The steep incline at Miller Avenue (my best friend lived there) is also a product of the glacial refuse.

What was disappointing in “A Road Not Taken, Much” was the absence of the school where all this knowledge was imparted. Franklin K. Lane sits proudly and majestically, a representation of Depression-era government construction at its best, on Jamaica Avenue at Eldert Lane in Brooklyn. It is still beautiful after 70 years.

Estelle B. Wade
Upper East Side


Anonymous said...

Good, I am glad most people thought the article was condescending to Queens residents.

georgetheatheist said...

Ask Janet Barkan of the Jamaica Center Improvement Association just HOW MANY busses from outside of NYC, from far away as Buffalo and Pennsylvania, roll into Downtown Jamaica and disgorge 1000's of out-of-town shoppers each weekend. That economy is booming.