The ride over Jamaica Bay
is possibly one of the most beautiful
trips possible on the New York City Subway
The ride starts in Howard Beach, at the JFK station. As you pull out of the station, you see the houses of Howard Beach on the right side of the train, and JFK's long term parking area on the right. But don't worry, it gets better.
A small creek develops on the right side of the train. This is a part of New York City which is often easier to reach by boat. On the left hand side, unfortunately, is landfill.
After passing the landfill, the train pulls into the bay proper. Sitting on the left side and facing backwards (or watching from the rear window) gives you an incredible view of the JFK airfield and the planes queued up for clearance. If you time it right, you may even see one take off.
The right side of the train gives you a long view over the usually-calm waters of the bay. By now you can usually see the bridge connecting Howard Beach and Broad Channel.
The bridge was named after someone in Congress. /msg me if you know who and you think it matters.
Broad Channel itself is a fairly interesting neighborhood. It was built as a beach community, and many of the houses are bungalows, many of which extend into the bay and are supported on stilts; a far cry from what is usually expected of New York.
The train pulls into the Broad Channel station 5-10 minutes after leaving the JFK station. This is the longest uninterrupted run in the system at 3.7 miles.
About half of the already thin crowd will disembark here; this is where the line splits, with one train going to Far Rockaway and another to Rockaway Park.
The rest of the ride before reaching the peninsula is also entertaining. Those facing backwards on the right side should be able to see the Manhattan skyline. Those facing forwards can see the gently curving Cross Bay Bridge connecting Queens to the Rockaways, the twin-towered Marine Parkway bridge serving the same function for Brooklyn residents, and the mighty Verrazano Bridge which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.
Just before the track splits, those on the right can see the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridge line up with each other.