We bet most anyone who has attempted to follow a map in Queens can empathize with the plight of new immigrant Damon Mootoo. Mootoo, who had just arrived from Guyana, got lost when he left his brother's home on 152nd Street in South Jamaica and ended up wandering around in the cold for five days. Five days! The Daily News reported that Mootoo, who can speak English but is hard of hearing, "didn't want to approach a cop because he feared he'd be deported." He managed to get by by begging for water and sleeping in an abandoned car or under a piece of wood in someone's yard in the below-freezing temperature.
Finally, over the weekend, Michael Bharath saw Mootoo near his home on 142nd Place and Rockaway Boulevard and brought him in. Bharath's wife gave him a sandwich and Mootoo showed Bharath his stepmother's address on Foch Boulevard. Mootoo was reunited with his family; his brother said, "He said he was just walking all over. He was scared. He heard all the stories about New York."
Mootoo, who received a permanent resident card, is being treated for dehydration and frostbite. He also told the News, "I want to go home. I'm thinking about going back to Guyana."
Why are the street names of Queens so confusing? The Greater Astoria Historical Society says that since Queens was a collection of villages with no single identity, "the borough had no single street naming pattern and the names and numbers from village to village created a confusing map of multiple Main Streets and Broadways." (Here is a general rule of thumb for how streets and avenues run.) And do you know how Jamaica got its name? According to the Parks Department, it's named after the Jameco ("beaver") Native Americans, "who lived along the shores of what is now the Jamaica Bay."
Major Mark Park in Jamaica, Queens