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Long Island City

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Long Island City

Long Island City
Neighborhood of Queens
Detail of 1896 map of Long Island City, from the Greater Astoria Historical Society
Detail of 1896 map of Long Island City, from the Greater Astoria Historical Society
Country United States
State New York
County Queens
City New York City
ZIP code 11101–11106, 11109, 11120
Area code(s) 718, 347, 917
LIC General Post Office, 11101
Gantry cranes in Gantry Plaza State Park on the Long Island City waterfront
108th Precinct of the NYPD
Facade of SculptureCenter, 2003

Long Island City (L.I.C.) is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. L.I.C. is noted for its rapid and ongoing gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community.[1] L.I.C. has among the highest concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space of any neighborhood in New York City.[2] The neighborhood is bounded on the north by the Queens neighborhood of Astoria; on the west by the East River; on the east by Hazen Street, 31st Street, and New Calvary Cemetery; and on the south by Newtown Creek, which separates Queens from Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It originally was the seat of government of Newtown Township, and remains the largest neighborhood in Queens. The area is part of Queens Community Board 1 north of the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and Queens Community Board 2 south of the Bridge.

Long Island City is the eastern terminus of the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge, which is the only non-toll automotive route connecting Queens and Manhattan. Northwest of the bridge terminus are the Queensbridge Houses, a development of the New York City Housing Authority and the largest public housing complex in North America.


Long Island City, as its name suggests, was formerly a city, created in 1870 from the merger of the Village of Astoria and the hamlets of Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills, Steinway, Bowery Bay and Middleton in Newtown Township. It was a separate city until 1898.[3] The last mayor of Long Island City was a notorious Irishman named Patrick Jerome "Battle-Axe" Gleason.

The city surrendered its independence in 1898 to become part of the City of Greater New York. However, Long Island City survives as ZIP code 11101 and ZIP code prefix 111 (with its own main post office) and was formerly a Sectional center facility (SCF). Since 1985, the Greater Astoria Historical Society, a non-profit cultural and historical organization, has been preserving the past and promoting the future of the neighborhoods that are part of historic Long Island City.

The Common Council of Long Island City in 1873 adopted the Ravenswood. The overall composition was inspired by New York City's Coat of Arms. The shield is rich in historic allusion, including Native-American, Dutch, and English symbols.[4]

In 1898, Long Island City became part of New York City. Through the 1930s, numerous subway tunnels, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the Queensboro Bridge were built to connect the neighborhood to Manhattan. By the 1970s, the factories in Long Island City were being abandoned. In 1981, Queens West on the west side of Long Island City was developed to revitalize the area. Finally, in 2001, the neighborhood was rezoned from an industrial neighborhood to a residential neighborhood, and the area underwent gentrification, with developments such as Hunter's Point South being built in the area.[5]

In 2006 a resident of Woodside, Queens, Hiroyuki Takenaga, proposed establishing a Japantown in Long Island City.[6]

Commerce and economy

Developments and buildings

Ancient boulder, a glacial erratic partly blocking 12th Street
As seen from Roosevelt Island; Gantry Plaza State Park in L.I.C. is in the foreground.

Long Island City was once home to many factories and bakeries, some of which are finding new uses. The former Silvercup bakery is now home to Silvercup Studios, which produced notable works such as HBO's Sex and the City. The Silvercup sign is visible from the IRT Flushing Line and BMT Astoria Line trains going into and out of Queensboro Plaza (7 <7> N Q trains). The former Sunshine Bakery is now one of the buildings which houses LaGuardia Community College. Other buildings on the campus originally served as the location of the Ford Instrument Company, which was at one time a major producer of precision machines and devices. Artist Isamu Noguchi converted a photo-engraving plant into a workshop; the site is now the museum, a collection dedicated to his work.

The Standard Motor Products headquarters, a manufacturing site producing items like distributor caps, was once located in the industrial neighborhood of Long Island City until purchased by Acuman Partners in 2008 for $40M. The Standard Motor Products Building has was put on the market by Acuman in 2014 and acquired by RXR Realty for $110M. The former factory built in 1919 now houses the Jim Henson Company, Society Awards, and a commercial rooftop farm run by Brooklyn Grange.[7]

High-rise housing is being built on a former Pepsi-Cola site on the East river. From June 2002 to September 2004, the former Swingline Staplers plant was the temporary headquarters of the Museum of Modern Art. Other former factories in Long Island City include Fisher Electronics and Chiclets Gum. Long Island City's turn-of-the-century district of residential towers, called Queens West, is located along the East River, just north of the LIRR's Long Island City Station. Redevelopment in Queens West reflects the intent to have the area as a major residential area in New York City, with its high-rise residences very close to public transportation, making it convenient for commuters to travel to Manhattan by ferry or subway. The first tower, the 42-floor Citylights, opened in 1998 with an elementary school at the base. Others have been completed since then and more are being planned or under construction.

Today, the most prominent structure, other than Queensboro Bridge, is the community's green skyscraper, the 658-foot (201 m) Citicorp Building built in 1989 on Courthouse Square. It is the tallest building on Long Island and in any of the New York City boroughs outside Manhattan.[8] Socioeconomic diversity is very visible in Long Island City; the Queensbridge Houses are composed of over 3,000 units, making it the largest public housing complex in North America.


Eagle Electric, now known as Cooper Wiring Devices, was one of the last major factories in the area, before it moved to China; Plant #1, which was the largest of their factories and housed their corporate offices, is being converted to residential luxury lofts.

Long Island City is currently home to the largest fortune cookie factory in the United States, owned by Wonton Foods and producing four million fortune cookies a day. Lucky numbers included on fortunes in the company's cookies led to 110 people across the United States winning $100,000 each in a May 2005 drawing for Powerball.[9][10][11]

Online grocery company FreshDirect serves the greater New York area via deliveries from a warehouse and administrative offices on Borden Avenue. A customer can also order online and come to the warehouse for pickup.

The city has been the home since 1999 to the Brooks Brothers tie manufacturing factory, which employs 122 people and produces more than 1.5 million ties per year.[12]

Long Island City is the new home of independent film studio Troma.

On March 22, 2010, JetBlue Airways announced it was moving its headquarters from Forest Hills to Long Island City, also incorporating the jobs from its Darien, Connecticut, office. The airline, which operates its largest hub at JFK Airport also operates from LaGuardia Airport, and will make The Brewster Building in Queens Plaza its home.[13][14] The airline plans to move around mid-2012.[15]


Early 1900s map of Dutch Kills, from Greater Astoria Historical Society
North end of canalized Dutch Kills
Montauk Branch bridges over Dutch Kills

In 1870, the villages of Astoria, Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Dutch Kills, Middletown, Sunnyside, Blissville, and Bowery Bay were incorporated into Long Island City.[16]


Blissville, which has the ZIP code 11101, is a neighborhood within Long Island City,[17] bordered by Calvary Cemetery to the east; the Long Island Expressway to the north; Newtown Creek to the south; and Dutch Kills, a tributary of Newtown Creek, to the west. Blissville was named after Neziah Bliss, who owned most of the land in the 1830s and 1840s.[18] Bliss built the first version of what was known for many years as the Blissville Bridge, a drawbridge over Newtown Creek, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Blissville; it was replaced in the 20th century by the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, also called the J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge, located slightly upstream. Blissville existed as a small village until 1870 when it was incorporated into Long Island City.[19]

Dutch Kills

Dutch Kills was a hamlet, named for its navigable tributary of Newtown Creek, that occupied what today is centrally Queensboro Plaza. Dutch Kills was an important road hub during the American Revolutionary War, and the site of a British Army garrison from 1776 to 1783. The area supported farms during the 19th century. The canalization of Newtown Creek and the Kills at the end of the 19th century intensified industrial development of the area, which prospered until the middle of the 20th century. The neighborhood is currently undergoing a massive rezoning of mixed residential and commercial properties.[20]

Hunters Point

Hunters Point Historic District
Religious procession crossing 50th Avenue, 1989.
Church at rear is undergoing repair.
Long Island City is located in New York City
Long Island City
Location Along 45th Ave., between 21st and 23rd Sts., New York, New York
Area 1.5 acres (0.61 ha)
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Mixed (more Than 2 Styles From Different Periods)
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP September 19, 1973
Map of industrial Hunters Point, 1891

Hunters Point is on the south side of Long Island City.[22][23][24][25] It contains the Hunters Point Historic District, a national historic district that includes 19 contributing buildings along 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Streets. They are a set of townhouses built in the late-19th century.[26] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[21]

Culture and recreation

Arts and culture

Long Island City is home to a large and dynamic artistic community.

  • Long Island City is the home of 5 Pointz, a building housing artists' studios, which has been legally painted on by a number of graffiti artists and is visible near the Court Square station on the 7 <7> trains.[27] The 5 Pointz building was painted over and set to be demolished starting in 2013.[28]
  • The Fisher Landau Center for Art is a private foundation that offers regular exhibitions of contemporary art.
  • Across the street from Socrates Sculpture Park is the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum, founded in 1985 by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. After undergoing a two and a half year renovation, the museum opened in 2004 with newer and advanced facilities.
  • MoMA PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, is the oldest and second-largest non-profit arts center in the United States solely devoted to contemporary art. It is named after the former public school in which it is housed.
  • SculptureCenter is New York City's only non-profit exhibition space dedicated to contemporary and innovative sculpture. SculptureCenter re-located from Manhattan's Upper East Side to a former trolley repair shop in Long Island City, Queens renovated by artist/designer Maya Lin in 2002. Founded by artists in 1928, SculptureCenter has undergone much evolution and growth, and continues to expand and challenge the definition of sculpture. SculptureCenter commissions new work and presents exhibits by emerging and established, national and international artists. The museum also hosts a diverse range of public programs including lectures, dialogues, and performances.
  • Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor sculpture park located one block from the Noguchi Museum at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard.
  • The Queens Library maintains two branches in Long Island City, one on the ground floor of the Citicorp Building (the Court Square branch), and one on 21st Street.
  • [29]
  • Water Taxi Beach was New York City's first non-swimming urban beach, and was located on the East River in Long Island City. City Hall planned to build 5,000 moderate income apartments in this area, a 30-acre (120,000 m2) development called Hunter's Point South.[30] The beach later closed and the apartments have yet to be constructed.


As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Long Island City comprises a population that is 1% Native American Indian, 10% African American, 15% Asian or Pacific Islander, 52% White, 9% mixed race, and 15% of "other" demographics. There is an equal proportion of female residents to male residents.[31][32]


Ferry dock

Long Island City is served by the elevated BMT Astoria Line at three stations (N Q trains) and IRT Flushing Line at four stations (7 <7> trains) of the New York City Subway. It is also served by the underground IND 63rd Street Line at one station (F train), the IND Queens Boulevard Line at two stations (E M R trains), and IND Crosstown Line at two stations (G train). The Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue stations of the Long Island Rail Road are there, as is a commuter ferry service operated by NY Waterway at the East River Wharf.

During the summer, the New York Water Taxi Company used to operate Water Taxi Beach, a public beach artificially created on a wharf along the East River, accessible at the corner of Second Street and Borden Avenue.[33] It was discontinued in 2011 due to new construction on the site of the old landing.[34]

Cars enter by the Pulaski Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, the Queens–Midtown Tunnel, and the Roosevelt Island Bridge connecting Long Island City and Astoria to Roosevelt Island. Major thoroughfares include 21st Street, which is mostly industrial and commercial; I-495 (Long Island Expressway); the westernmost portion of Northern Boulevard, which becomes Jackson Avenue (the former name of Northern Boulevard) south of Queens Plaza; and Queens Boulevard, which leads westward to the bridge and eastward follows New York State Route 25 through Long Island; and Vernon Boulevard.


The New York City Department of Education operates a facility in Long Island City housing the Office of School Support Services and several related departments.[35]

PS 166, the Gradstein School


Long Island City is served by the New York City Department of Education. Long Island City is zoned to:

  • P.S. 17 Henry David Thoreau School
  • P.S. 70
  • P.S. 76 William Hallet School
  • P.S. 78
  • P.S. 85 Judge Charles Vallone
  • P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell School
  • P.S. 150
  • P.S. 166 Henry Gradstein School
  • P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst School
  • P.S. 199 Maurice A. Fitzgerald School
  • I.S. 10 H. Greeley School
  • I.S. 141 The Steinway School
  • I.S. 204 Oliver W. Holmes
  • I.S. 126 Albert Shanker School For Visual And Performing Arts

Additionally, Long Island City is home to:

High schools offering specializations

Long Island City is home to numerous high schools, a number of which offer specializations, as indicated below. These specialized schools are not to be confused with SHSAT-based high schools. Rather, these schools offer programs that are included at SHSAT schools.

Higher education

Numerous institutions of higher education have (or have had) a presence in Long Island City.

Notable residents

Seven Major League Baseball players were born in Long Island City:

Two Major League Baseball players have died in Long Island City:

The NBA's Metta World Peace and filmmaker Julie Dash[37] both grew up in the Queensbridge Houses, as did hip-hop producer Marley Marl, and rappers MC Shan, Mobb Deep, Nas, and Roxanne Shante.

Other famous residents of Long Island City include:



  1. ^ Silver, Nate (April 11, 2010). "The Most Livable Neighborhoods in New York".  
  2. ^ Roleke, John. "Long Island City Art Tour".  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "History Topics: LIC Coat of Arms".  
  5. ^ "Queens West Villager". Queens West Villager. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  6. ^ Gill, John Freeman. "For a Big Dreamer, a Little Tokyo." The New York Times. February 5, 2006. Retrieved on September 5, 2013.
  7. ^ Zlomek, Erin. "Redeveloping New York Factories Into Small Business Hubs". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Citicorp Building".  
  9. ^ Lee, Jennifer (May 11, 2005). "Who Needs Giacomo? Bet on the Fortune Cookie".  
  10. ^ Snow, Mary (May 12, 2005). "Cookies Contain Fortunes for Powerball Winners".  
  11. ^ Olshan, Jeremy (June 6, 2005). "Cookie Master".  
  12. ^ Tschorn, Adam (September 10, 2009). "Behind The Knot: A Quick Tour of Brooks Bros. NYC Tie Factory".  
  13. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (March 22, 2010). "'"JetBlue to Remain 'New York's Hometown Airline.  
  14. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (March 22, 2010). "JetBlue to Move West Within Queens, Not South to Orlando". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  15. ^ "JetBlue Plants Its Flag in New York City with New Headquarters Location" (Press release).  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ Information about Blissville from the Greater Astoria Historical Society
  18. ^ Walsh, Kevin (2006). Forgotten New York: Views of a lost metropolis. New York: HarperCollins. 
  19. ^  
  20. ^ Information about Dutch Kills from the Greater Astoria Historical Society
  21. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  22. ^ Hunters Point, Queens: Neighborhood Profile at
  23. ^ Queensmark Comes To Hunters Point, Queens Historical Society
  24. ^ Information about Hunters Point from the Greater Astoria Historical Society
  25. ^ Forgotten New York: Hunters Point
  26. ^ Stephen S. Lash and Betty J. Ezequelle (January 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Hunters Point Historic District".  
  27. ^ Bayliss, Sarah (August 8, 2004). "Museum With (Only) Walls".  
  28. ^  . "Deal Reached For '5Pointz' Development In Queens". NY1. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  29. ^ Kaminer, Ariel (December 27, 2009). "Ice, Served Two Ways: Plain or Glamorous".  
  30. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (November 10, 2008). "Disputed Queens Housing Faces a Vote This Week".  
  31. ^ Population Demographics
  32. ^ LIC Partnership – Demographics
  33. ^ Cline, Francis (August 11, 2005). Imagination on The Waterfront" in Queens""".  
  34. ^ "Water Taxi Beach Long Island City". Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  35. ^ Home page. New York City Department of Education Office of School Support Services. Retrieved on May 1, 2013. "2004 The Office of School Support Services 44-36 Vernon Boulevard Long Island City, NY 11101"
  36. ^ "DeVry College of New York Campus Community Homepage". Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  37. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (December 3, 1997). "In the Old Neighborhood With: Julie Dash; Home Is Where the Imagination Took Root".  
  38. ^  
  39. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (February 20, 2011). "Roy Gussow, Abstract Sculptor, Dies at 92".  

Further reading

External links

  • Queens Buzz Lead-in Section to LIC
  • Long Island City BID
  • LICNotes
  • Greater Astoria Historical Society
  • LIC Cultural Alliance

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