QUEENS, N.Y. - Approaching the terminus of the M line in Middle Village, Queens, for a moment it almost seems like the train left the city for railroad tracks upstate. But indeed you are in New York City — the Metropolitan Avenue Stop to be exact — the southern end of the M line in Queens.
On a recent trip I ran into Luis Ponce, a Bushwick resident who rode over to do some shopping at the nearby Metro Mall.
"I love this area, it's so nice here," Ponce said.
The area is quieter than Manhattan, which really doesn't seem all that far away. Middle Village is located, appropriately, in the center of Queens. In direct proximity to the subway station is a 168-year-old cemetery once known as Lutheran, now All Faiths. Across the street is Christ the King High School, known for its powerhouse girls basketball teams over the years.
"It's kind of like living in the suburbs within the city," said Dennis Lanci, who lives a few blocks away.
About a half-mile away is the heart of Middle Village's business district on Metropolitan. Mary Caridi grew up on the Lower East Side, and moved there from Sunnyside to help care for her granddaughter.
"It's a nice neighborhood, it's quiet, it's residential, what else can I tell you," Caridi said.
Otherwise, yeah, it's New York, with less of that hustle and bustle.
"More neighborhood people here. People who are like so friendly to help you, give you direction, you know, old school people," said Antoinette Lopez, who works in Middle Village.
"You can live around here without a car and still get by. C-Town right here, and again, bagels, pizza, all the best pizza, you've got a couple of bars, nice liquor store down the block, it's all good," said John Cerruti, a Middle Village resident.
Also good is Joe's Italian Bakery, where I took a cannoli break and talked with owner Wendy Toribio who left Brooklyn to move to Middle Village.
"It's like the bar 'Cheers'. Everybody knows you. And if they don't know you, they are going to come and ask you, 'Who are you?'" Toribio said.
Even though the M train runs through three boroughs for 18 miles - it's two terminals - where it begins and ends are very close to each other and both in Queens. Both at Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and less than three miles away in Forest Hills at 71st and Continental Avenue.