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Lifestyle

From urban to rural, Route 25 spans Island's diversity

People gaze out at the Orient Point Lighthouse

People gaze out at the Orient Point Lighthouse from the very end of a dirt road, the absolute end of Long Island's North Fork in Orient Point where Route 25 ends. (Oct. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Route 25 is a state highway that stretches the length of Long Island for 105 miles, from the East River to the East End, curving upward at each terminus like a handlebar mustache. Its westernmost point is near Second Avenue in midtown Manhattan, then it crosses the Queensboro Bridge and reaches eastward all the way to the tip of Long Island's North Fork.

Along the way, Route 25 is known by a variety of names. In Queens, it is Queens Boulevard, Hillside Avenue and Braddock Avenue. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, it's referred to as Jericho Turnpike, Middle Country Road, Main Street and, finally, Main Road.

Whatever its nomenclature, one thing is certain: Motorists who travel its entirety traverse much more than physical miles. In Queens, they pass through the second-most populous county in the state, the fourth-most densely populated county in America, and the most diverse county in the nation. Its urban neighborhoods are a potpourri of old Irish and Italian families and newer immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Through Nassau and Suffolk, much of the road is pockmarked with strip malls and traffic lights, which give way to farms and vineyards on the North Fork. At the highway's end, the landscape -- and its inhabitants -- have changed considerably. Route 25 flattens and empties on the way to the ocean and sweeping rural views greet visitors to Orient Point. Fewer than 1,000 people live year-round in this small seaside hamlet, and there is an absence of high-rises on the horizon. Visitors who make it this far can stand at the end of a dirt road and gaze out across the sapphire waters of Long Island Sound toward Connecticut.

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