Long Island City in Queens NY


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Long Island City in western Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East Side, is one of the most vibrant areas in Queens and all of New York City. Visitors come for its museums, artists for its cheap studio rents, and residents for its neighborhoods and quality of life so close to Manhattan. A large geographic area of many neighborhoods, Long Island City has a distinct history from the rest of Queens, and is in the midst of a major transformation.

In the last twenty years overwhelmingly industrial Long Island City has become a major cultural center with world-class art and working artists. The latest trend is for more residential growth. Though areas like Astoria have always been residential, zoning changes and the Queens West development of the East River waterfront have spearheaded the renovation of warehouses into condos.

Long Island City's transformation, however, is told in the stories of its many neighborhoods, some touched by development, other bypassed. Once an independent city, Long Island City officially comprises a swath of western Queens including over 250,000 inhabitants and the neighborhoods of Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Astoria, and lesser-known ones like Ravenswood and Steinway.

Long Island City runs from the Queens East River waterfront all the way east to 51st/Hobart Street, and from the Brooklyn border at Newtown Creek all the way north again to the East River.

Many New Yorkers know the area by two names: Long Island City or Astoria. Often you'll hear "Long Island City" when only Hunters Point and the Queens West development is meant.

Lately, Astoria has become the best known area, and consequently real estate agents have grown its boundaries at least in their advertisements. If you are interested in moving to LIC, it's best to learn the neighborhood names and their characters.

Long Island City is made up of many neighborhoods, each with their own character. The best way to explore is neighborhood by neighborhood, even if the post office considers the whole area Long Island City.

Long Island City neighborhoods:

Hunters Point is the neighborhood most people mean when they say Long Island City. It is in the midst of transforming from an industrial area into a premier residential neighborhood, with the housing prices to match. Hunters Point is at the East River, just across from the UN Building, and home to the Queens West development.

Queens Plaza

The lower span of the Queensboro Bridge spits cars out into Queens Plaza, the new "old Times Square." Weekend nights it's bachelor central with packs of guys roving in and out of strip clubs. Almost underground below the vast metal jungle gym of the bridge, and known for prostitution and drugs, Queens Plaza is a sad introduction to Queens, though an upturn seems inevitable as major corporations bring jobs into the area.

Fame: Silvercup Studios is a major TV and film production studio, planning a major new development.

Queensbridge

The largest public housing unit in New York City, Queensbridge Houses is home to 7,000 people in 3,101 apartments, in 26 six-story brick buildings. It was one of the earliest federal housing developments, opened by FDR and Mayor LaGuardia in 1939. Queensbridge is just north of Queens Plaza and runs to Queensbridge Park at the East River.

Fame: Nas raps about growing up in the Queensbridge Houses.

Dutch Kills

An old neighborhood, one of the first Dutch settlements on Long Island, Dutch Kills is north of Queens Plaza, between Queensbridge/Ravenswood and the Sunnyside Rail Yards. As realtors seek to cash in on Astoria's popularity, Dutch Kills addresses become known in the classifieds as "Astoria/Long Island City." The neighborhood is a mix of residential and industrial. Low rents predominate, but dilapidated blocks and lonely stretches make it a Long Island City frontier, despite great access to the N and W subways.

Fame: The Fisher Landau Center for Art is a private collection of contemporary American art.

Blissville

Ah Blissville! Despite such a great name, the actual neighborhood is sure to disappoint. It's a small area south of the LIE, next to Cavalry Cemetery and Newtown Creek, with a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Blissville is named for mid-nineteenth century Greenpoint developer Neziah Bliss, and it continues its strong ties to Greenpoint, just over the JJ Byrne Memorial Bridge in Brooklyn.

Fame: The tombstones and chapel in Cavalry Cemetery are glorious. Newtown Creek should be famous, but is sadly just polluted.

Sunnyside

One of the best small neighborhoods in western Queens, Sunnyside has long attracted families to affordable, quality housing with quick access to Manhattan along the 7 subway. The western edge is industrial with warehouses and taxi depots.

Fame: Sunnyside Gardens is a suburban, "garden" style development from the 1920s, which still retains its distinct character and some common community gardens.

Ravenswood

Hard by the East River, Ravenswood extends north from Queensbridge to Astoria. It is dominated by warehouses and the Ravenswood Houses, a public housing development of 31 buildings, six and seven-stories tall, home to over 4,000 people.

Fame: The Socrates Sculpture Park is a thriving art greenspace, and the famed Noguchi Museum around the corner.

Astoria

One of the best places to live in Long Island City, Astoria has transformed beyond the largest Greek neighborhood in NYC to a diverse, cosmopolitan, polyglot neighborhoods, home to recent immigrants and Brooklyn-style hipsters. Astoria has great restaurants and the last old-school beer garden in New York City Ditmars and Steinway are two sections of Astoria. Often landmarks and apartments in nearby neighborhoods are christened Astoria to cash in on its reputation.

Fame: Outdoors at the Bohemian Beer Garden is the best place to while away a summer Saturday afternoon and evening.

Steinway

Steinway is home to the Steinway Piano Factory. In the 1870s the area was developed as the piano company's corporate village. It comprises the quiet residential area north of Ditmars, between 31st Street and Hazen Street.

Fame: Steinway & Sons offers factory tours (1 Steinway Place, Long Island City, NY 11105, 718-721-2600)

Ditmars

Another residential area of Astoria, Ditmars is the center of the Greek community and is mostly one- and two-family houses around glorious Astoria Park.

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