Explore Queens

Astoria

Just a short subway ride—or drive—across the East River from Manhattan, Astoria in western Queens is one of the borough's better-known neighborhoods. Steeped in colorful history, chock-full of great food and opportunities for culture, arts and entertainment, the neighborhood is as popular as Brooklyn and Manhattan for people who love New York City life. Long Island City and Jackson Heights (just to the south and east, respectively) are also popular destination neighborhoods for some of the city's top ethnic restaurants and art museums.

Once a retreat for wealthy Manhattanites, the neighborhood has undergone an enormous transformation since the later part of the 20th century. The formerly industrial area at its southern end has become a bustling landscape of restaurants and cafes. Astoria is considered one of the top dining destinations in Queens; it also boasts one of the city's best and oldest outdoor beer gardens. Astoria's main commercial areas are 30th Avenue, Steinway Street, Ditmars Boulevard, and Broadway. Ditmars Boulevard retains its Greek flavor while Broadway is a magnet for the young and hip. To the south of Astoria Boulevard on Steinway—the neighborhood's main shopping street—you'll find an impressive selection of Middle Eastern cafes and shops. That district's name dates back to the 1870s, when William Steinway built Steinway Village for the employees of Steinway & Sons Piano Factory. On the neighborhood's northern side, the Ditmars section is a quiet residential area that is home to both newcomers and longtime residents.

In addition to being a foodie's dream for its endless ethnic offerings, an area highlight is the American Museum of the Moving Image. Kaufman-Astoria Studios function as a stage for top TV shows. Astoria Park on the East River offers beautiful Manhattan views and the Robert Moses-designed Astoria Pool, and Socrates Sculpture Park in neighboring Ravenswood is a world-renowned outdoor museum and cultural center.

Astoria is a 20-minute commute on the N or W subways to midtown Manhattan. The subway runs above ground along 31st Street.

Long Island City

Just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East SideLong Island City and its surrounding neighborhoods in western Queens is one of the city's most vibrant areas. Known for its museums, artists' studios and prime residential space near Manhattan, Long Island City is in the midst of some major transformation, in part because its history is different from that of other Queens neighborhoods.

Long Island City, familiar for the neighborhood's P.S. 1 Arts Center and its weekend Warm-Up yard party, is divided into two parts by Queens Plaza. LIC actually covers a large swath of western Queens and south of the Citigroup Building lies Hunter's Point and the Hunters' Point Historic District, home of the luxury high rise condos that often come to mind when talk turns to LIC. This prime residential area across the East River from the UN Building is home to new developments like Queens West's Citylights and Avalon Riverside. The area grew rapidly after rezoning led to development along the waterfront, bringing young professionals, stores and restaurants to the Vernon Boulevard strip. Gantry Plaza State Park along the same waterfront provides what is arguably New York City's most awe-inspiring view of Manhattan. Though the last twenty years have seen the onetime industrial zone transformed into a major cultural center with world-class art and hard-working artists, more recent transformations herald more residential growth.

In addition to Hunter's Point, LIC neighborhoods include Dutch Kills, Sunnyside, Blissville and Ravenswood. Astoria is technically part of LIC as well, but most often discussed on its own. To the north of Queens Plaza is the Dutch Kills neighborhood. Onetime home of rappers like Marley Marl and Nas, its Queensbridge housing development is considered one of the birthplaces of hip-hop music.

After the Queensboro Bridge/59th Street Bridge was completed in 1909, industry moved in to the area, where it prospered until the middle of the 20th century. The classic Pepsi-Cola Sign along the waterfront is a reminder of the area's industrial past. In the 1960s and '70s, many of these industrial buildings were used by artists and filmmakers as studio space, which led to the neighborhood's reputation as a center of artistic activity. The aforementioned P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center and galleries that include the Noguchi Museum, Fisher Landau Center for Art and Sculpture Center as well as smaller galleries and performance spaces thrive here, still somewhat safe from the stratospheric rents and cramped spaces of Manhattan and, more recently, Brooklyn. The colorful 5 Pointz/Crane Street Studios is one such example, though the street art complex was recently being considered for demolition to make way for residential construction. A hub of the city's film and television industry, LIC is the former home of Silvercup Studios in the Silvercup Bakery building along the East River, keeping the area bustling with film crews for on-location shoots.

Sunnyside is considered one of the best small neighborhoods in western Queens, and has long been a favorite for families looking for affordable, high quality homes and speedy access to Manhattan via the 7 subway line. Like much of Queens, a vibrant ethnic mix can be found within its borders. Sunnyside Gardens is an early-suburban "garden" development from the 1920s. It retains its unique qualities and still features some of its eponymous community gardens.

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