While en route to Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens for an event I decided to buffer my journey with an extra 90 minutes or so, to give myself time to venture to a new cemetery; I’m finding cemeteries not only have good stories, but great views of the surrounding borough they reside within and possibly the Manhattan skyline – MT Olivet does not disappoint!
And before we even get there, I encountered something there are far and few between in NYC, and especially in Queens: a significant hill! I decided to approach the cemetery via Remsen Place, so as to ride right into the location. But first I had to get there. I opted for 65th Place, as it connected nicely to right near where the new bike lane that runs along Queens Boulevard is now located; as you can the light that day was great – if chilly – and as soon as I got to 65th I hooked a right and rode south.
A two-way car lane, there’s typically plenty of room for a bicycle but buses also go both ways on this road and if you know Maspeth drivers they’re about as car-greedy as they get, they don’t even make room for buses. But anyhow it got interesting when I got to the Maurice Avenue intersection; I’m on the north side of the intersection stopped at the light and all I can think of is, “Oh…wow!”
(There are much bigger hills in other boroughs, but this one was pleasantly unexpected!)
The hill ahead isn’t San Francisco hilly, but it’s so hilly that I can see the hoods of cars through their windows as they’re driving up the hill; and I can’t see *over* the hill as cars disappear. But this is a great sign – it means the cemetery will be high up, and have great views!
When you get to the ‘top’ it doesn’t drop back down, but then levels out and only gradually inclines until you get to the Queens Midtown Expressway. Here you’ve just got to do a little jig over to Borden Avenue (all the way out here – who knew!) and then back in to Remsen Place, before heading into the cemetery.
This cemetery is fairly pleasant, and I chose a beautiful day for some mid-fall foliage and color:
Fantastic! And then you come around to views like this and remember why this city is endlessly worth exploring – for moments like this:
And lastly – and I don’t have the official story on this but it’s pretty obvious riding through the graveyard – there’s this section indicated as the ‘Japanese Cemetery’. From a place and time when Japanese – even American citizens of Japanese descent I bet – weren’t allowed to be buried alongside humans of more European skin-stock. Shameful, really, but also kind of exquisite, as you notice entire sections of the land with Japanese script on the tombstones, accompanying signage, weathered photos, etc.