I visit Costco about once a month. It's about a mile of a walk from my train stop,
but I am willing to bear the brunt of street noise and moshing for the avocados, frozen dumplings, organic carrot juice, and pears that no other store has. Eating high quality and healthy food is extremely important to me, and it brings me great joy to eat produce whose quality, freshness, and price is superior even to Union Square-Whole Foods, and Union Square-Farmer's Market.
While it's about a mile of a walk in real-time, my 'imaginary walk' from the train stop to the grocery store Costco
was rather short. First, there was thefirst district
from which I departed, the main path
--Queens Blvd Street--I took to reach the second district
where Costco is located, and thelandmark
in-between the districts: the Queens Mall. Finally, two nodes--
street-corners/points of crossing--just prior to reaching Costco. Similarly to the people interviewed by Kevin Lynch about Boston [p.502], I too thought of my walk to Costco
in terms of large regions, generalized characteristics, and broad directional relationships. However, taking an actual walk to Costco
this weekend, with the intention to analyze my surroundings, made me realize how much of the neighborhood's characteristics I had ignored.
to Costco starts by the Subway train station. I have a choice to either keep walking, or make a turn. Making a turn at the left edge
takes me to an architectural node
, a smoothie store tucked in a dead-end corner. Meanwhile, making a turn at the right edge
of the subway railing takes me into the Queens's residential area. So, I keep walking straight down the path
that takes me along a corridor of commercial stores that line the first floor of a 5-story condo building that stretches down the entire block. I see a condo building entry, Starbucks, a Chinese bank, and a dollar store. The right side of the block is just street traffic. I reach the end of the paths' first edge
, I take a left turn, and continue on another straightpath
, also known as the 'main
' path Queens Blvd Street.
I interpret the left turn as the beginning of a shopping district
because of the extensive amount of commercial stores with high brand-name recognition. To me, it's one largepath
, the Queens Blvd Street, along which I walk for the next mile and see commercial landmarks.
However, even though my path is straight, I pass 6 more node
points before I make another left turn.
between the start of the shopping district
to the first node
, or point of street intersection, is defined by the buildings that built-up the area's commercial sense of place
. There are three 20 stories-high residential buildings, a spa, a dental office, and a local 24-7 diner. I cross the intersection at the end of the first node
and continue my journey down the path of the official commercial district -
as at least, the way I think of it.
I pass by two banks and the neighborhood's landmark, the Queens Place Mall - not to be confused with the Queens Center Mall. The Queens Place Mall is much smaller compared to the Center and houses stores that are known for selling practical goods: Target, Best Buy, DSW, and offering family-friendly dining places: the ice cream store, Red Lobster restaurant, among few others. There is a node
(street intersection) at one of the corners of the Queens Place Mall, and I take the opportunity to cross the street and continue my journey.
The path between the beginning and end of the third node
is defined by more commercial stores: a bank, different cell-phone stores, and a fast-food restaurant. The beginning and end of the fourth node is defined by another neighborhood landmark: the Queens Center Mall. It starts with an entry to Macy's on one of the mall's corners, followed by a complete bare wall for most of the block, and the main mall entry towards the end of the block. I cross another street intersection again, and continue my path down the beginning of node 5. It's just an array of smoothie and fast food stores I don't even bother looking at to recognize their names because at this point I've had enough to stores and I just want to finally reach Costco
The beginning of node 6 is defined by a high-way, there's a loud high-way road above my head as I walk down the pedestrian path. Finally, I make a left turn at the end of the street, also known as the end of the 6th node
, and the beginning of the 7th node
. It's just a pleasant quiet street. The left side of the street is defined by a wall of some building - the bare, tall, brick wall that stretches down the entire block. I don't even bother trying to find out what it is, I just want to reach Costco
. The right side of the street is divided between a parking lot and an empty plot of land. I only see two people down the same block I am walking on, and for a brief moment, I feel very happy about the absence of noise and a mosh pit.
Unfortunately, my happiness is rather brief; I reach the end of node 7
, cross the street, and make a right turn. I am confronted by more cars, a mosh pit of people and strollers. After dodging 5 strollers, and multitude packs of families with at least 3 kids, I begin to question things and people. I question the existence of large families, whether I ever want to have 1 or 0 number of a kid, and think about China and population control. I also make a mental note to myself that I should outsource my grocery shopping errands in the future, if I ever have an opportunity to do so. But my thoughts do not hold well because I am interrupted when I reach the middle of the street, make a left at another node
- and enter 'The Plaza'.
For a brief moment I think I'm in France or Spain, and an unforced smile forms on my face. But that does not hold well either. I remind myself of the point of reaching The Plaza -- Costco
- as I pull myself together - mentally and physically - and brace to face more people as I enter Costco
But I tell myself that it's all worth it - at least, for the avocados.