Many of you may have spent some time on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, also referred to lovingly as the BQE, at some point in your life. The traffic between Downtown Brooklyn and the Long Island Expressway is often befuddling and enraging – enough to consider a row boat as a faster alternative. At other times the cabs, trucks, and personal vehicles seem to zing from one end of the borough to the other at an effortless 95mph.
The construction of the BQE transformed neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens. Residents of Brooklyn Heights vocally protested Robert Moses’ initial proposal, in which the expressway would have cut through Brooklyn Heights, destroying many blocks of Brownstones. Eventually, organizations like the Brooklyn Heights Association convinced Moses to change the plans so that the BQE would skirt the coastline. Still, some streets were destroyed in the construction of the expressway. All but a small portion of McKenney Street was one of the casualties. If you look at this map from a 1929 fire insurance atlas, you’ll see that McKenney Street was a two-block street east of Columbia Heights that connected Doughty Street to Poplar Street. Portions of Doughty, Poplar, and Vine Streets were also altered but not destroyed during the construction of the BQE. I believe parts of what were once McKenny Street are now named “Hicks Street.”
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