Introduction to INTERSECTION
This column in OurLIC will have a meaning for the word INTERSECTION both as a physical location as well as a place where there is a merging of diverse cultures.
Since the end of the Second World War, three waves of cultural change impacted Queens. First, residents from older neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn came to enjoy automobile access and newer housing removed from deterioration and demographic change. After the 1965 change in immigration laws, Queens became a magnet for the diversity of new Americans and today half of the population is foreign-born. In recent years, domestic newcomers and the creative community sought the lower density and lower rents of the borough.
Queens' neighborhoods are unique mixes of these processes and previous history played out on varied topography. Learn to understand and appreciate these cityscapes by joining a group of walkers for an evening. Enjoy stimulating outdoor environments and make new friends.
I do walking tours that begins at 6pm at the designated location, near a subway station, and ends about two hours and two miles later in a neighborhood where you may eat (as you choose) in a variety of interesting restaurants.
Changing Cultures of Queens: A Walking Anthology
A series of educational walking tours in June and July 2010
Tuesday evenings @ 6:00 PM We move by 6:15.
Long Island City to Old Astoria
Walk the East River shore between the Queensboro and Triboro Bridges. Begin at Queensbridge Houses and head for the remnants of Old Astoria. The sights include increasingly oblique views of Manhattan's Upper East Side from three parks, a (former) piano factory, a huge power plant, a "big box" store, the Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Isamu Noguchi Museum. End in Astoria at the Bohemian Hall beer garden.
This demographically changing neighborhood is opposite Manhattan's Upper East Side. Italians and Greeks are being replaced by Arabs, Bosnians, Brazilians, Mexicans, and yuppies. We'll explore Astoria from its important transportation arteries: Steinway St (a former trolley route), 31 St (under the elevated train), the Grand Central Parkway, which bisected the neighborhood 70 years ago, and 30th Avenue, its cafe-lined promenade.
#7 Sunnyside to Jackson Heights
The core of the ethnic diversity along “The International Express” has visible commercial concentrations of Irish, Mexican, South Asian, South American, Filipino and Thai cultures. Some domestic gentrification has occurred at both termini. The train and the constantly evolving eats are always in focus. >Meet at the “Sunnyside” sign, in the street on the south side of the #7 46St/Bliss local station. Tues. June 22
Woodside Ave, with Newtown Rd in Astoria, forms the link between the (defunct) Astoria ferry and the center of Elmhurst (originally Newtown Center). It traverses a 19th century cityscape near the LIRR, spans Roosevelt Avenue's diversity, and ends in the Asiatown consolidating in Elmhurst. Expect a few diversions!
Forest Hills to Corona
Dominicans, Ecuadorians and Mexicans compete for commercial space in Corona! South Americans surround the venerable Little Italy in Corona Heights! Bukharan Jews succeed Russian Jews in Rego Park! Come early and peek at Forest Hills Gardens across Queens Blvd. This walk can’t be topped for fine-grained diversity. How did it all happen? >Meet at the Ridgewood Savings Bank, 108 St/ North side Queens Blvd (E,F,R,V to 71 Ave/Continental, Forest Hills). Tues. June 15
South Richmond Hill
Immigrants from Guyana (in South America) are already a fascinating mix of African, South Asian, Caribbean and British culture. Now they are adapting to New York. We'll view much of their commercial strip, a thriving segment of Liberty Avenue in South Richmond Hill. Then we'll ascend Richmond Hill and encounter Sikhs and transportation influences. >Meet at NE corner of 104 St/Liberty Ave (Lefferts Blvd A train to 104 St, do not take Far Rockaway A). Tues. June 29
This immigrant destination and commercial center has come to rival its Manhattan antecedent. Taiwanese rather than Cantonese at its core, Flushing's Chinatown plays host to a variety of overseas Chinese groups. Rezoning and greater land availability support unusual real estate developments including office buildings, hotels, residential condos, specialty shops, cultural institutions, and malls. Dine in more than 100 Asian restaurants.
Flushing's Main Street
From its start at Northern Blvd, we'll follow Main St through its Chinatown and South Asian commercial areas, then cross the LIE to Queens' largest Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Kew Garden Hills. Landmarks along the way include the Queens Botanical Garden and Queens College. End near a variety of Kosher restaurants.
Koreans are the premiere small businessmen and church builders of contemporary immigration. Their center of gravity has migrated away from Central Flushing and is now sprawling east along Northern Blvd and to "Korean Villages" at LIRR stations. See surprising shops and houses of worship. Eats include “BBQ“ and “KFC“. >Meet by fare booth outside the east end (front) of the #7 station (Roosevelt Ave, east of Main St, last stop on #7 train and served by escalators) (Do not exit from middle of platform!) Tues. June 1
Beyond Central Jamaica
Beyond the termini of the F train (179 & Hillside Ave) and the former J train elevated station (169 St), commercial areas are a plurality of South Asian businesses with a majority of other cultures. Proposed zoning changes could further complicate the mix.