Flashback To 1999
Seeking to capitalize on the recent designation by the White House of the No. 7 transit line as a National Millennium Trail, Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette has requested that federal funds be provided to maintain what has been described as a "living heritage trail".
The designation places the 75-yearold elevated line in the same company as other historic treasures, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail in Oregon, the Hatfield- McCoy Trail in West Virginia, and the fabled Underground Railroad through which Negro slaves in the Civil War made their way to freedom fleeing the south.
In all, 16 trails won the coveted designation. It's all part of a broader initiative, led by First Lady Hillary Clinton, to preserve and publicize national treasures for the new millennium.
On the heels of its national recognition, the line won more kudos last week when the El was named the best in the city for the third year in a row.
The No. 7 line, which runs from Times Square in Mid-Manhattan to Main Street-Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, came to the White House's attention through Ilana Harlow, the folk arts program director with the Queens Council on the Arts who directed the application to get the line on the list of historical trails.
In her application, which led to the No. 7 line becoming the only one on the list to commemorate contemporary social history, Harlow emphasized the role the El played in aiding thousands of new immigrants. Harlow described the many immigrants living along the train route from Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing as modern-day pioneers. The route is lined with Central and South American, Mexican and Indian enclaves.
"It is a living heritage trail," Harlow stated.
Hoping to keep the line ranked at the top and to live up to its new historic status, Lafayette said, "The unique designation demands federal funds to maintain and improve this special transportation mode."
Noting that the line travels through the unique and remarkable diversity of Queens, Lafayette added: "When you think of all the immigrant families who came and settled in Queens, using the No. 7 line to become productive Americans, that is part of American history."
The designation is the second honor gained by the venerable transit line recently. Last week, for the third year in succession, the Flushing line was named the city's best subway line.