Beyond BQE: Bolstering Immigrant Businesses in
Central Queens

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Project Team

Authors: Chen Hu, Emily Silber, Elizabeth Wu

Firm: Stantec

Studio: NYC + Urban Highway Removals

Project Description

The Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), first opened in the 1950’s, is nearing the end of its lifespan and is in need of major repairs. Rather than restoring antiquated highway sections, our proposal imagines the economic and public health opportunities generated by strategically phasing out the highway and reclaiming land that historically divided neighborhoods. Our case study is the vibrant Woodside-Jackson Heights intersection in Queens, where an existing transportation hub connects subways, buses, and LaGuardia Airport. Building on ideas for the Triboro Line1, we can significantly reduce the freight transportation reliance on the BQE and reduce its existing capacity. In its place, we envision alternative transit modes and open spaces for the community.

The BQE traverses diverse neighborhoods at this intersection, where the largest percentage of immigrants in the city live. Roughly 30% of the local population work in the service industry, with many running their own businesses. As the pandemic revealed, many immigrants confront a language barrier that precludes access to higher paying jobs should those service jobs be jeopardized. Restrictive vendor and small business policies further limit the path to economic parity.

At the intersection of infrastructure and social equity, our proposal aims to create economic opportunities for those with limited access. This new urban landscape creates dedicated spaces for street vending, with incubation spaces to support developing new business skills. Implementing these hubs requires re-thinking of economic policies and active participation from the creative local immigrant community.


Additional Links

Project on JSTOR