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If You Think Hudson Yards Is Big, Wait Till You See What’s Coming to Sunnyside

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I suspect that plenty of New Yorkers who can easily pick out Mogadishu or Vladivostok on a map couldn’t find their way to Sunnyside Yard. It’s a grayed-out zone in the heart of western Queens, a walled-off, whale-shaped expanse with its tail in Long Island City and its snout nuzzling Woodside, 180 acres in all. This is a busy place — Amtrak, LIRR, and New Jersey Transit come to maneuver, switch directions, and submit to repairs — but it could be much, much busier. Hudson Yards, too, was once a big blank nothing that nobody knew, and look at it now, a bristle of fresh new towers packed with elevators that glide frictionlessly up into the clouds. But that monster project is puny by comparison; Sunnyside Yard is seven times bigger.

On a brisk winter morning, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen escorted me to the roof of a building in Long Island City to look out over this hectic blank slate and visualize the neighborhood it could become. The biggest surprise is that it will be a hilltop town, because of what lies beneath. Streets and parks will arch over the thicket of trains, tracks, and sheds, meet the few automobile bridges that now span the site, then puff up between them like a quilted comforter. A 30-foot drop separates the edge from some surrounding streets, a topographical given that, depending on how it’s handled, can yield dead ends and forbidding walls or moments of stunning drama.

Last spring, the city hired........

© Daily Intelligencer