The Queens District: What To Do And What To See?
Queens is one of the five boroughs of New York. Located south of the Bronx, it is the largest borough in the city. And with more than 2.3 million residents, it’s also New York’s second most populous borough, just behind Brooklyn. Less famous than Manhattan, Queens is nonetheless a very popular place for its great cultural diversity. Very large, it is made up of around 60 districts, often very different from each other.
In the lines that follow, I suggest you learn a little more about this borough and some of the most interesting sites you can discover during your visit to Queens.
The Queens is named after the wife of Charles II of England, Queen Catherine of Braganza. In the second part of the 17th century, the place was first populated mainly by English and Dutch settlers. It was only after more than 200 years of existence, in 1898, that Queens was finally officially attached to New York City. At that time, the borough had almost 10 times fewer inhabitants than Brooklyn.
In the three decades following the construction of the Greensboro Bridge in 1909, the borough experienced several large waves of immigration and welcomed a large number of inhabitants from many different countries such as Ireland, Italy and Greece..
The Cosmopolitan District Par Excellence
Queens today is almost as populous as Brooklyn. New York is often said to be the most cosmopolitan city in the world, and Queens is the perfect example. It is by far the most multi-ethnic borough in New York, with residents from more than 130 countries. It is this absolutely unique cultural diversity that gives Queens a good part of its charm today.
Queens is also one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in New York City, with nearly half a million more people arriving in the borough over the past decade.
If this borough is so popular, it is because the rents there are for the moment still much lower than those of Manhattan, and that although it is very well located geographically, Queens remains a borough where there are from space. The population density is almost twice that of the Bronx or Brooklyn, and more than 3 times that of Manhattan.
From Manhattan, you can go on a bus tour to discover different neighborhoods including Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn. On this excursion, you will be able to appreciate the differences between the boroughs that make New York such a multicultural, cosmopolitan and attractive city.
For 5 hours, you will follow a circuit with a guide and will make different stops in different places. The advantage with this format is that you will be able to see a variety of things in a limited time, while giving you a global vision of the different neighborhoods that make up New York City.
Neighborhoods In Queens
Among the dozens of neighborhoods in Queens, many are mostly residential and only some truly symbolize the soul of this borough, and present a very strong interest during a visit to New York.
The neighborhood of Astoria sits along the East River in northern Queens. This district, which has evolved a lot in recent years, has now become one of the fashionable places in New York. More and more actors and artists from Broadway come to settle there, which has given it the nickname “Actoria”.
This district is very active culturally. In particular, you can find museums such as the Museum of the Moving Image, and several very pretty Orthodox churches such as Saint Catherine & George Church and Saint Markella Cathedral, which bear witness to the time when Astoria was the Greek district of New York.
It is also quite close to LaGuardia airport (by the way, if you arrive in New York from LaGuardia airport to Manhattan, do not miss my article dedicated to transport from this airport).
At Astoria Park, you can picnic, jog, and even swim in the city’s oldest and largest swimming pool.
Long Island City
Long Island City is the other neighborhood in Queens that runs along the East River. It is particularly appreciated for its very green setting and its proximity to Manhattan. This is the artistic center of Queens, in which you can find many art galleries and museums, including the MoMa PS1.
At Hunters Point South Park, you can relax on the grass and enjoy some very pretty sunsets. Gantry Plaza State Park is an old port that has been redeveloped, and from which you can admire a superb view of the Manhattan Skyline, which is just across the East River. In particular, you can see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
This particularly cosmopolitan neighborhood will be the ideal place to have a meal in Queens. You will have the opportunity to find establishments serving dishes from all cultures. Casa Enrique is a Mexican restaurant that will be perfect for eating quickly and well. The Tuk Tuk is one of the most popular restaurants in the area, and serves delicious Thai specialties. For a classic American meal, you can go to Benjamin Steakhouse and enjoy hearty dishes and very nice pieces of meat
This district is located on the long and thin peninsula located in the south of Queens, in the extension of Long Beach. In summer, you can spend a good time there on very beautiful sandy beaches, where there are also many playgrounds for children.
But Rockaway is a district that can be interesting even during the rest of the year, since you will find there a lot of shops for shopping, as well as a few museums.
Fort Tilden once housed military installations. Today, you will find a fairly calm beach there, as well as a large park where there are a cinema, athletics tracks and a hiking circuit. You will even have the opportunity to access a large observation deck from which you can experience a panoramic view of the Manhattan Skyline, Jamaica Bay and New York Harbor.
The big attraction in the Flushing neighborhood is Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadow Park. You’ve probably seen the Unisphere in a magazine or in a movie (in Men In Black, for example!). This large metal structure in the shape of a terrestrial globe measures nearly 12 meters in diameter and sits right in the center of the park.
Created for the 1939 World’s Fair, Corona Park is the city’s fourth largest park. Strolling through its wide alleys, you may even forget that you are still in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world. The park is also home to several museums, and it is also here that the US Open takes place every year.
Flushing is also home to New York’s largest Chinatown, which is actually much larger than Manhattan’s Chinatown. You can get there by taking the 7 subway line to Flushing Main Street, its terminus.
In addition to being much larger, this Chinatown is also much less touristy, and will therefore be the ideal place if you want to enjoy a little extra change of scenery during your stay in Queens.
You can visit very famous museums in all the boroughs of New York, and Queens is no exception to this rule. Some of New York’s most interesting museums are even located in this borough:
- The MoMa PS1 is an annex museum of the famous MoMa which is located in Manhattan. In this museum of modern art located on Long Island, you can discover exhibitions that highlight the most daring artists of our time. By taking an admission ticket for the MoMa museum, you will also have free access to its MoMa PS1 annex. So you can discover the two museums.
- The Museum of the Moving Image is a modern museum located in Astoria. As its name suggests, it is devoted to cinema, television and all areas that use moving images.
- The New York Hall of Science is a museum located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Its exhibitions are devoted to science and technological advances. A large number of interactive experiences can be carried out in this museum, which will please the whole family!
- The Queens Museum of Art is another establishment located in the park of Flushing Meadows. It is the largest contemporary art museum in the arrondissement: more than 6,500 objects are exhibited there. Its star attraction is its very large model of New York, which alone fills an entire room.
Major Sporting Events in Queens
Some world famous sporting events also take place in Queens. Of course, the New York Marathon takes place partly in Queens: after passing through Brooklyn, the runners follow Queens and cross the East River on the Queensboro Bridge, to arrive in Manhattan. If you want to attend the New York Marathon, the end of this bridge will also be a good place to see the participants pass and encourage them.
City Field, home of the New York Mets, is also located in Queens in the Flushing neighborhood. The Mets are with the Yankees the two heart teams of New Yorkers. You can attend one of their games during the regular season which takes place between April and the beginning of November.
The US Open is also held in Queens, at Flushing Meadows. This Grand Slam tournament, which takes place from the end of August to the beginning of September, welcomes several hundred thousand spectators each year.