On a recent ramble through my adopted home town, Little Neck, Queens I discovered an element peculiar to NYC’s more suburban locales: the grassy central median, or as they say in England, “roundabout.” I’ve only found one or two other than the ones shown on this page, both in Riverdale, Bronx. There’s a HUGE one in Brooklyn, where Avenue M and Kings Highwaymeet, called Fraser Square (even though it’s definitely not square)

“Roundabouts” are used to effectively flow traffic in the absence of traffic signals or stop signs, and are much more frequent in Britain. But, there are a number of them in Little Neck, where they’ve probably been since the roads were laid out in the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Browvale Lane and 52nd Avenue. One caveat here is that a couple of ’roundabouts” here aren’t true roundabouts since some of the strets encircling them are, in fact, triangle-shaped. Yet many of them around town, despite the Department of Transportation’s “Greenstreets” program, are just painted lines in the street, or a raised chunk of concrete.

Browvale Lane at Van Zandt and Thebes Avenues. A true roundabout — all traffic keeps right. Of course in England the direction is reversed and all traffic keeps left.

Browvale, which some maps misspell as “Brownvale,” is so-called because it runs on top of a steep crest overlooking Northern Boulevard. It is made up of two words now nearly obsolete in English: brow, crest, and vale, valley.

Browvale Lane at Leeds Road (left) and 51st Avenue (right, across the street). Traffic can turn around by making a left and another left.

Perhaps the oddest one is here at Glenwood Street (left) and Concord Avenue (right). Glenwood is in Queens, while Concord is in Nassau County.

Concord Avenue begins at Pembroke Avenue in Great Neck, just across the city line, passes into Queens here, where it becomes Concord Street, and then leaves Queens again at Overlook Road in Nassau.

Across the city line in Nassau, some houses are numbered with the Queens plan (254-08, 254-10 etc. while some aren’t. Further east, Nassau numbering takes command.

Here’s a very special stop sign at Bates Road and Concord Street — it may be one of the original metal posts, with several decades’ worth of rust for character, and a knobbed top. Most NYC stop signs now are mounted on slotted green posts.

In Nassau County they have a very good idea…installing reflector strips on the entire length of the post for greater visibility.

Definitely an idea NYC should adopt…



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  1. Laura says:

    You’re making my old home town look pretty good!

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