New York City is made up of five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, and, potentially the most up-and-coming, popular boroughs of them all: Queens. Home to New York City’s two international airports, a bunch of residential neighborhoods, great commercial property, and agricultural space, Queens is one of New York City’s most diverse and beloved areas, for tourists and locals alike.
A Brief History of Queens
For years and years, Queens was merely an agricultural area close to Manhattan. However, by the end of the 1800s, Queens was developing as its own livable space, and by January 1, 1898, it was formed as its own Borough.
Queens is technically part of Long Island, but it’s very much a vibrant part of New York City culture. It is connected to Manhattan via the RFK Bridge, as well as by multiple subway lines.
The borough was thrust into the spotlight for the first time in 1939, when the World’s Fair was held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It was held there again during 1964-65. Millions of people came to the fairs, which created an indelible impact on popular culture across the world.
Over the decades, Queens has continued to develop and diversify. As Brooklyn has become one of the most popular and trendy neighborhoods in the city, the spread of people has passed into Queens, its neighbor to the North. This has caused rapid develop of several neighborhoods in the Borough, particularly along the East River waterfront, as well as an influx of attractions like art museums, restaurants, bars, night clubs, and more.
Popular Neighborhoods in Queens
There are lots of neighborhoods in Queens, but if you’re going to travel there, these are the most popular areas to check out.
Long Island City
Long Island City is arguably the “hippest” of all Queens neighborhoods. Located just to the North of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, Long Island City is a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood with lots of restaurants, bars and nightlife. Long Island City lines the East River Waterfront, and it is easily reachable both by multiple subway lines and the City Ferry.
Astoria has earned itself the nickname “Actoria.” That’s because it’s become a haven for people who work in Broadway theater, who want more affordable housing than Manhattan offers, where they can escape when they’re ready to leave the neon lights of Times Square. Astoria is a lovely multicultural neighborhood that feels very residential. The area has many ethnic restaurants, mom and pop shops, as well as green space, to make it one of the most livable spots of the borough.
If you want a neighborhood that is close to Manhattan, but actually feels worlds away from a concrete city, then you’ll want to go to Sunnyside. Just across the East River, Sunnyside has tons of residential space, where some homes have lawns and most neighbors know your name. This suburban area is more live than play, so it’s not the best hood if you’re looking for vibrant nightlife or a culinary scene. It is, however, very safe and a popular place for families to live.
Want to see some really big houses in New York City? Check out Jamaica Estates. This suburban, residential neighborhood has large Tudor homes, private yards, and a truly quiet, livable feel. While the area is more expensive than some in the borough, it has many excellent private schools, and it is very easy to hop on the F line to get right into Manhattan.
Best Attractions in Queens
If you’re traveling in New York City and you want to get a taste of the best attractions the borough has to offer, here’s what you should check out.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Head to the park where the World’s Fairs were, and you can see the remnants of the events. Wander through the vast green space that exists there, check out the zoo, look at the sports facilities, and marvel at the spot that shaped American history.
The Museum of Modern Art — or MoMA — has an outpost in Queens: MoMA PS1. It is a museum focused on contemporary art, and it features traveling exhibitions rather than a permanent collection. MoMA PS1 has been around since 1971, and since its inception, it’s become one of the leading contemporary art institutions in America.
I bet you didn’t realize that New York City was also a beach town! Head out to Rockaway Beach, in Rockaway, Queens, to experience the beach scene of NYC. This beach offers great surfing, sand to walk or relax on, and plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy. The trip won’t be as nice as a trip Florida, but it will certainly give you a reprieve from summer heat if you take a dip in the water, and it’s a good way to take a break from the bustle of tourist attractions and busy city streets. You can get to Rockaway Beach by bus, car, or ferry. You can also take the A train– just be prepare for a long train ride.