Jackson Heights in Queens NY

Like most of Queens, Jackson Heights was just scarcely populated farmland during the 19th Century while Manhattan and Brooklyn thrived as urban areas. In 1909, however, the opening of the Queensboro Bridge changed all of that. Queens became very popular and Edward Archibald MacDougal bought land in this area to benefit from the opening of the bridge. He bought many family homes and his first co-op in 1920. Nowadays, these co-ops contain some of the most magnificent gardens in the entire city.

For virtually a century, Jackson Heights was able to maintain its acres of interior courtyards. They had green spaces from open lawns to canopies covered in ivy-clad trees. All through the Great Depression and after the WWII building boom, the citizens of Jackson Heights struggled to preserve their green grass and gardens while others wished to build large cities and factories on the land. Because of their devotion to their community, the inhabitants of Jackson Heights are granted with a setting that gives them a sense of pride and history. Over the last quarter century, Jackson Heights, which was a middle-class community in northern Queens, has become one of America’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods. Today, people of nearly all ethnicities are working side by side in the community of Jackson Heights.

Queens is known for its multilingual people and diverse neighborhoods. If one were to merely spend a day in a subway station or just on the sidewalk, he would feel as if the entire world were walking by him. Jackson Heights is mostly a South Asian and South American neighborhood, but there are also many inhabitants from Russia, China, Korea, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Greece, Ireland and the West Indies. Of the 90,000 residents, 56% are foreign born. According to census experts, Jackson Heights is the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Queens, New York.

Between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue, blocks are filled with many Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis. Little India in Jackson Heights is the largest Indian community in New York. The streets are filled with colorful saris, spices, South Asian jewelry, and video and music stores. The Menka Beauty Salon, between Roosevelt and 37th Avenue, is a great place to delight in the henna trend and to also get a taste of Indian culture. The henna trend is an Indian tradition of using a plant to stain your skin as well as your hair. It is a reddish-brown dye that is prepared from dry ground leaves of the Egyptian plant Lawsonia inermis.

Many South Americans make their homes in an area where the English language is rarely spoken. Jackson Heights is the home of the largest Argentinean community as well. Columbians are the largest group among the Latino population of Jackson Heights but nearly every Spanish speaking country is represented. Between 82nd Street and Junction Boulevard, you can find exotic Argentinean steakhouses and Columbian restaurants. This neighborhood was first inhabited by Hispanics in the 1960s when Latin Americans were immigrating to the United States in large numbers. Many came illegally in order to work and to escape poverty and corrupt governments.

The residents of Jackson Heights beam with pride and are proud to live in one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Queens. One supermarket owner advertises that he sells, "Puerto Rican, Mexican, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Argentinean, Guatemalan, Brazilian, Dominican, Middle Eastern, Greek and Kosher Foods." On another street, Columbians are on their way to Spanish restaurants, while Koreans and other Asians are on their way to small stores that sell herbs and spices. South Asian women walk down the street wearing saris and other accessories of their traditional dress.

People say that Queens is a melting pot of many different cultures. Jackson Heights is a shining example of this. The beautiful community is full of people from completely different backgrounds who come together to form one diverse community. While visiting Jackson Heights, one can find himself in many different countries at once. On one street you can find yourself in South America, and then cross over to another and find yourself on the other side of the world.