Jackson Heights, Queens
Learn more about Jackson Heights, Queens
Jackson Heights is an urbane melting pot with many ethnic populations. The Latin American population consists of a various mix of Latinos from many Latin American countries, mainly Ecuador, Colombia (67,000 population), Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay. The Asian-American community includes immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Korea, and the Philippines. Little India is located around the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 74th Street, near Broadway (distinct from Broadway in Manhattan). There is also a smaller Italian American community. In addition, there is a small population of multi-generational Europeans of Jewish, Polish, Irish, and Russian decent.
 Geography and Transportation
Jackson Heights is also where the IRT Flushing Line 7 train meets the IND Queens Boulevard Line E</pre>, F</pre>, G</pre>, R</pre>, V</pre> trains and numerous bus routes at the 74th Street-Broadway transportation hub, which has recently received an $87 million renovation . The community is bounded by Northern Boulevard to the north, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the west, Roosevelt Avenue to the south, and Junction Boulevard to the east. East Elmhurst, the area immediately to the north, from Northern Boulevard to the Grand Central Parkway, though somewhat different in character, is also sometimes regarded as a northward extension of the neighborhood.
The Jackson Heights name comes from Jackson Avenue, the former name for Northern Boulevard (the Jackson Avenue name is retained by this major road in a short stretch between Queensboro Plaza and the Queens Midtown Tunnel approaches, in the Long Island City neighborhood).
Most of the neighborhood is a National Register Historic District and about half is a designated New York City Historic District. It is comprised of large Garden Apartment buildings (the term was invented for buildings in Jackson Heights) and many groupings of private homes. It was a planned development laid out by Edward A. MacDougall's Queensboro Corporation in the 1920s, following the arrival of the Flushing Line elevated train. The community was initially planned as a place for middle to upper middle workers from Manhattan to raise their families. The Jackson Heights Historic District ranges from parts of 88th street through the low 70's. A former golf course located between 76th and 78th Streets and 34th and 37th Avenues was built upon during the 1940s.
Jackson Heights was the first garden community built in the United States, as part of the international Garden city movement at the turn of the last century. There are more private parks (historically called gardens by the residents) within walking distance of each other than in any other city in America. They are tucked in the mid-blocks, mostly hidden from view by the buildings surrounding them. Several approach the size of Gramercy Park, in Manhattan, and one is slightly larger. As befits private parks, unless given an invitation, the key to gain entry is to own a co-op around its perimeter. The basis for the private ownership of the parks of Jackson Heights is derived from its founding principle--as a privately owned little garden city, built largely under the oversight of one person. The gardens of the co-ops help make the historic part of the neighborhood highly desirable.
The community today is known as being one of the most ethnically diverse in the world. There is also wide economic diversity. Many residents commute to nearby Manhattan, ten to fifteen minutes away by express subway. The main retail thoroughfare is bustling 37th Avenue, with more retail on 82nd and 74th Streets on the block between 37th and Roosevelt Avenues. Roosevelt Avenue is also lined with retail stores. 35th and 34th Avenues and most side streets are zoned residential.
Jackson Heights has more school choices within a walking distance than any other city America, except for some sections of Manhattan. Students attend P.S. 69 or P.S. 212 for primary school. Middle schools in the neighborhood include I.S. 145 and I.S. 230. There are also other private schools and parochial private schools. The community is home to many houses of worship from a wide array of religions. Jackson Heights has the highest density of trees and greenery in New York City along its residential streets.
The prices of houses and co-ops within Jackson Heights have risen rapidly in recent years, especially within the Historic District. Jackson Heights is mainly composed of houses, co-op buildings, and rentals, with a small number of condominiums. Rents in the Jackson Heights Historic District range from about $950 to the high $1,000s. Co-ops and condos range from the $100,000s for studios to $700,000 for "classic seven" apartments. Houses range from $500,000 to the $900,000s.
Jackson Heights is known for its very wide array of multicultural restaurants and establishments. Colombian broadcaster RCN has its American headquarters in the neighborhood, reflecting the large Colombian population. There is a Greenmarket every summer in Travers Park.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group (www.jhbg.org) is a community-based 501(C)3 nonprofit group with about 500 members. There is no paid staff. Volunteers organize concerts in Travers Park and an annual children's Halloween parade, clean graffiti, plant flowers all along 37th Avenue, and otherwise work to continue to improve the community.
Jackson Heights has followed the general patterns of New York City when it comes to crime. After spikes in the 1980s into the mid-1990s, crime has declined significantly. According to New York City CompStat statistics, measured crime has declined more than 70% in the last 13 years (1993 to 2006). As of August 2006, the two-year decline was 11% and the one-year decline was 8%.
During the height of New York City's drug violence, crusading anti-crime journalist Manuel de Dios Unanue, the former editor of El Diario-La Prensa, was murdered while peacefully having dinner in a Jackson Heights restaurant. Testimony at the trial of his murderer indicated that a Colombian drug lord had put out a $20,000 contract on de Dios. Today, a small park and street in the neighborhood bears Unanue's name in his memory. Of Unanue's death, Mary Jo White, the U.S. Attorney at the time, stated, "We know any murder is a heinous crime. But when the victim is murdered because he reported on the truth, we are all the victims here."
Public school children from the Northridge Co-ops in Jackson Heights were the first in the city to be bussed to a school out of the district, as part of the New York City bussing experiment of the mid-1960s. This caused a great deal of turmoil within the neighborhood and the city itself, and became part of a heated national debate during the civil rights era, covered by the national media such as Time Magazine, etc.
With the great diversity of this neighborhood, the young people in Jackson Heights come from a wide array of backgrounds, mainly from Latin American, Italian American, and Asian American. Travers Park is a local hangout which has a wide variety of sports , including basketball, tennis, baseball, and handball.
Most sundays the entrance of the park serves as a field for soccer games... that last long long hours.
- Reflective of the tremendous diversity of the neighborhood, actors Lucy Liu, John Leguizamo, Susan Sarandon, and Kevin Dobson grew up in Jackson Heights, as did comedian Don Rickles, writer/director Peter Hoffman, radio talk show host Howard Stern, and film critic Jami Bernard.
- Scrabble was invented by resident Alfred Moshe Butts in 1938, and perfected at Community Methodist Church. (A commemorative street sign at the corner of 35th Ave and 81st St, where the church still stands, was erected by the city in 2004.)
- Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt lived in Jackson Heights for many years.
- Major portions of the Academy Award nominated1 film 'Maria Full of Grace' (2004) were filmed on location in Jackson Heights. Minor portions of the movie Random Hearts (1999) was filmed in Jackson Heights on 35th avenue between 76th and 77th street.
- Much of the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Wrong Man, takes place within a few blocks of the intersection of Broadway and 74th Street. The former Victor Moore Arcade and the connecting subway station, were prominently featured in the movie. The arcade was demolished and rebuilt from 1998 to 2005 and is now known as the Victor A. Moore Bus Terminal. It was named after Jackson Heights resident, Victor Moore, who was a famous Broadway and film actor from the era of silent film to the 1950's.
- Travers Park has a dedicated corps of neighborhood overseers who plant greenery and flowers, help clean, and also arrange for a summer concert series on Sunday afternoons in July and August.
- Jackson Heights was an important place during the Great American Boycott of 2006. On that day, 37th avenue between 83rd and 79th street was filled with protesters cheering "si se puede!".
- Colombian broadcaster RCN has its American headquarters there.
- Jackson Heights is mentioned in the Del Amitri song "Surface of the Moon", from the Change Everything album. "From the well swept streets of Jackson Heights to the dockside drudgery". Jackson Heights was also mentioned in the opening song to the 1960s television show "Car 54 Where Are You?" ...There's a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn's broken out in fights, there's a traffic jam in Harlem that's backed up to Jackson Heights..." Given the geography, that would be a very long traffic jam.
- There is also a Jackson Heights in the popular racing game Need For Speed: Underground 2.
- American short story writers Sandra Cisneros and Michael Gonsalves lived in Jackson Heights for most of their formative years.
- Jackson Heights is the site of the annual Queens Gay Pride Parade, which is held on 37th Avenue, (a lavender line is painted down the center of the avenue for the event,) on the first Sunday in June of every year. There is a street festival held on 37th Road, off Roosevelt Avenue, following the parade and lasts all day.
- Jackson Heights is the home of Betty Suarez in the American "dramedy" Ugly Betty.
- Jackson, Kenneth (1995). Encyclopedia of New York City. Yale University Press.
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- Jackson Heights Indian community guide