The shot above is quite modern, captured a few days after Hurricane Sandy on November 4th of 2012, which is the reason why there is no traffic visible. It depicts the “Queens Midtown Highway” section of the Long Island Expressway. The highway was opened in 1939, along with the Midtown Tunnel, and it changed Long Island City forever. The point of view is found on Greenpoint Avenue, by the way.
Photo by nycma.lunaimaging.com, May 13, 1941
The historic shot from May 1941, above, is shot from a few hundred feet south of my vantage point. Unfortunately, the spot where that photographer stood is now obscured by both a chain link fence and a highway sign which blocks the historic view. Of particular note in the 1941 shot are the presence of private homes, rather than industrial buildings, along the northern side of the highway (to the right).
Also, the blanket of vaporous exhaust visible in the air of Long Island City is of some interest.