On September 22 2013, The Far Rockaway Walking group began their first journey. The group consisted of Matt, Xavier, Maryam and I. We began on journey at the Beach 67 Subway stop on the A line. During our 2-hour walk, we simply observed the neighborhood. We decided that our first walk should consist of only observations. Going to the site without focusing on objectives, allowed us to have an open view of the neighborhood. Figure1: walking route and calculated time.
Similar to what Whyte described in the “learning from the field” article , we decided to first gain some initial familiarity with the local scene. The group has never done research at the Far Rockaways and needed to establish a social base from which we can further our exploration. Like Whyte explained , we wanted to avoid entering the space with a fixation on detailed research design. This allowed us to observe the space as a true walker, free from our own academic biases.
We were not completely unaware of our surroundings. We knew that the Far Rockaways were home to both the working class and summer vacation homes. We knew the neighborhood was hit by the 2012 Sandy hurricane. We knew that the new development homes on 67th street survived the hurricane.We also knew the neighborhood was apart of the Queens borough. During our walk we began to see the neighborhood as urban dweller, not simply as a researcher.
Looking at the 67th street, you could see the divide between the new developments (south closer to the beach) and the homes (north if the train station). Similar to Queens Borough housing typologies, the homes located on the north side of the train station had many multifamily units. Just south of the train station were filled with new developments. See figure 2. It was hard to miss the new community beach housing typologies. As we walked near the new development, a community member informed us the houses were built three or four years ago.
At the southern end of 67th street we entered the beach. I found it interesting that the only thing protecting the land from the beach was the Trapbags. I assumed that after hurricane sandy, there should be new infrastructure im place to protect the homes. I was surprised to only find the trap bags on our walk at 67 th beach. According to the official website “TrapBag® flood barrier systems are a continuous cellular containment barrier used wherever prevention and protection from natural disasters and man-made disasters are required. TrapBag barriers are the perfect solution for flood protection, erosion control, mudslide protection and prevention, environmental pollution control, and many other uses. These are especially significant concerns for those who live or have businesses near rivers and other large bodies of water.” (Trapbags.com)
When I reflect on New York City, neighborhoods and boroughs characteristic come to mind. No matter what borough I am in, I never forget that I am in an urban city. Walking through Far Rockaway was a whole new experience. For the first time, I forgot that I was within the New York City limits. Located within the Queens borough, It was hard to see the stereotypical New York City urban life.