Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young is the latest person to be featured on Queens Public Television’s series Power Youth of Queens. Michelle talked with Power Youth host Noran Omar about the process of creating Untapped Cities, her own travel experience and how Untapped Cities inspires New Yorkers to get out and rediscover their city. The interview took place while the pair walked around a location much like those that first inspired Michelle to create the site, the abandoned tracks of the Queensway. You can watch the full feature below:
The Queensway is a 3.5 mile stretch of defunct Long Island Railroad tracks which starts in Rego Park and terminates at Rockaway Blvd in Ozone Park with some elevated areas. This route was once part of the Rockaway Branch which brought Queens residents into Manhattan and provided access to the beach. When the line fell into financial hardship in the 1950s, parts of the track were sold to the City of New York and became part of the A train. Around the same time, due to a lack of ridership, LIRR service was significantly reduced in the area. By 1962 the tracks were decommissioned.
Over the past few years, Untapped Cities has been following the development of the QueensWay, a project by The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay aimed at turning the abandoned site into a public space. Renderings for the first phase of the park were released last year. The plan has been met with opposition from those that would rather see the rails re-activated to address underserved transportation areas.