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Atlantic Avenue is an important street in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. It stretches from the Brooklyn waterfront on the East River all the way to Jamaica, Queens. Atlantic Avenue runs parallel to Fulton Street for much of its course through Brooklyn, where it serves as a border between the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene and between Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Atlantic Avenue is the sole east–west through truck route across Brooklyn, mostly serving the purpose of the canceled Bushwick Expressway (I-78) and the Brooklyn portion of the Cross Brooklyn Expressway (I-878).
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In Brooklyn, the area of Atlantic nearest the South Ferry waterfront has long been known for its antique shops and its notable Arab community, including mosques, specialty shops and restaurants specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine. As it stretches east toward Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic separates the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill and passes through Boerum Hill near Downtown Brooklyn. This section of Atlantic Avenue is the site of the Atlantic Antic, an annual street fair involving local and visiting merchants and artists, held in early October.
At Flatbush Avenue and Fourth Avenue the crossing of the three major thoroughfares form a triangular intersection historically known as Times Plaza. Here the smaller shops, restaurants, churches and boutiques give way to the Atlantic Terminal, where nine subway services at Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center converge with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The area is dominated by massive buildings, formerly factories, now used by storage companies, and by the Atlantic Center Mall (opened in 1996, with tenants including P.C. Richard & Son and Modell's), Atlantic Terminal Mall (opened in 2004, with tenants including Target) and Barclays Center. All three are products of developer Forest City Ratner.
The face of Atlantic Avenue east of Flatbush Avenue, the site designated for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards, is defined by the LIRR tracks that run beneath (from Flatbush Avenue to Bedford Avenue), above (from Bedford Avenue to Dewey Place), and beneath again in East New York until Lefferts Boulevard in Queens.
The Atlantic Avenue Railroad (now LIRR) originally ran along Atlantic Avenue as streetcars pulled by horses. With electrification, other traffic was eliminated from the roadway and Atlantic Avenue became discontinuous. When railway sections west of Jamaica station were put underground in the early 1940s, that portion of Atlantic Avenue became continuous again. East of Jamaica, the railway is still at (or above) ground level.
Just east of the Van Wyck Expressway, the roadway narrows to two lanes and becomes 94th Avenue, after which the roadway soon diverges into side-streets, ending as 157th Street at Liberty Avenue. Atlantic Avenue between the Brooklyn Docks to the Van Wyck Expressway is 10.0 miles long, making it one of Brooklyn's longest streets.
Pre-electrification maps from 1909 and 1910 show Atlantic Avenue, at that time, continued to the city line. Short roadways still named Atlantic Avenue exist further east adjacent to the LIRR Main Line within Nassau County. A stretch of road still named Atlantic Avenue, just under one mile long, runs just south of the Main Line from the Bellerose station to the Floral Park station. Just north of the Merillon Avenue train station in Garden City is another short roadway called Atlantic Avenue. Other short segments of roadway called Atlantic Avenue exist adjacent to the Main Line at Carle Place in Nassau County, and even as far east as the approach to the Nassau-Suffolk County line, just beyond the Farmingdale LIRR station.
The Q24 New York City Bus route runs on Atlantic Avenue from Broadway Junction to Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer. The B63 runs on it between its western end and Fourth Avenue. The B61 and B65 buses run on this street for short sections. The New York City Subway's BMT Canarsie Line (L train) has a station on this street at East New York Avenue, with another entrance at Van Sinderen Avenue. Long Island Rail Road stations on the Atlantic Branch are located at Flatbush Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, and Van Sinderen Avenue.
A four-block-long Atlantic Avenue exists in Sea Gate, Brooklyn.