Learn more about Jamaica, Queens
Jamaica, a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City, was settled as a town by the English under Dutch rule in 1656 in New Netherland. It is one of the major predominantly African American neighborhoods in the borough of Queens. It has a substantial concentration of West Indian immigrants, Indians, Arabs, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans as well as many long-established African American families. The neighborhood of Jamaica is completely unrelated to the Caribbean nation of Jamaica (although Jamaican immigrants do live in the area) ; the name similarity is a coincidence. The neighborhood was actually named for the local Jameco Native American tribe, whose name in turn came from a local word for "beaver."<ref>Queens, From The Stone Age, accessed June 5, 2006</ref>
Jamaica is the location of most courthouses and other administrative buildings for the County of Queens; however, it is not the location of Queens Borough Hall and Queens Criminal Court, both of which are located in the adjacent neighborhood of Kew Gardens (Kew Gardens is a neighborhood once located in the larger town of Jamaica before Queens became part of New York City). Jamaica Center, the area around Jamaica Avenue and 165th Street, is a major commercial center, as well as the home of the Central Library of the Queens Borough Public Library.
Jamaica Avenue was an ancient trail for tribes from as far away as the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, coming to trade skins and furs for wampum. It was in 1655 that the first settlers paid the Native Americans with two guns, a coat, and some powder and lead, for the land lying between the old trail and "Beaver Pond," later, Baisley Pond. Dutch Director-General Peter Stuyvesant dubbed the area "Rustdorp" in granting the 1656 patent. The English, who took it over in 1664, renamed it "jamecos," the Canarsie word for "beaver." Jamaica became part of the county of Yorkshire, and, in 1683, when the province was divided into counties, it became part of Queens County, one of the original counties of New York.
Colonial Jamaica had a band of 56 Minutemen that played an active part in the Battle of Long Island, the unfortunate outcome of which led to the occupation of the New York City area by British troops during most of the American Revolutionary War. In Jamaica, "George Washington slept here" is indeed true — in 1790, in William Warner's tavern. Rufus King, a signer of the United States Constitution, relocated here in 1805. He added to a modest 18th-century farmhouse, creating the manor which stands on the site today. King Manor has recently been restored to its former glory, and now houses King Manor Museum.
By 1776, Jamaica had become a trading post for farmers and their produce. For more than a century, their horse-drawn carts plodded along Jamaica Avenue, then called King's Highway. The public school system started in 1813, funded for $125 and a year later, Jamaica Village was incorporated. By 1834, the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad company had completed a line to Jamaica.
In 1850, Jamaica Avenue (Fulton Street), became a plank road, complete with toll gate. In 1866, tracks were laid for a horsecar line, and 20 years later it was electrified, the first in the state. On January 1, 1898, Queens became part of the City of New York, and Jamaica became the county seat.
The Jamaica station of the Long Island Rail Road was completed in 1913, and the BMT Jamaica Line arrived in 1918. The 1920s and 1930s saw the building of the Valencia Theatre (now restored by the Tabernacle of Prayer), the "futuristic" Kurtz furniture Store and the Roxanne Building.
Jamaica Station is a central transfer point on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which is headquartered in a building adjoining the station; all but one of the commuter railroad's lines (the Port Washington Branch) run through Jamaica.
The New York City Subway's F</pre> train terminates at 179th Street on the IND Queens Boulevard Line, while the E</pre>, J</pre>, and Z</pre> trains terminate at Jamaica Center–Parsons Boulevard on the Archer Avenue Line.
Jamaica's bus network provides extensive service across eastern Queens, as well as to destinations as distant as Hicksville in Nassau County, the western Bronx, the Rockaways, and Midtown Manhattan. Nearly all bus lines serving Jamaica terminate there; most do so at the 165th Street Bus Terminal or the Jamaica Center subway station.
Jamaica is also connected to John F. Kennedy International Airport—one of the busiest international airports in the United States and the world—by AirTrain JFK, which runs between terminals at the airport and connects to central Jamaica at the LIRR station.
Major streets include Archer Avenue, Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Liberty Avenue, Merrick Boulevard, Parsons Boulevard, Guy R. Brewer Boulevard (formerly known as New York Boulevard), and Sutphin Boulevard, as well as the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) and the Grand Central Parkway.
Neighboring areas would be Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, St Albans, Hollis, Queens Village, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Laurelton, Rosedale, Brookville, Rochdale Village(apartment complex), Springfield Gardens and South Flushing.
Several colleges, universities, and secondary schools make their home in Jamaica proper or in its close vicinity, most notably:
- Thomas A. Edison Vocational and Technical High School
- Hillcrest High School
- Jamaica High School
- The Mary Louis Academy, a private, Catholic, girls' high school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph
- Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
- York College, a Senior College of the City University of New York
- Archbishop Molloy High School
- St. John's University (Queens Campus), A private, Roman Catholic University founded by the Vincentian Fathers (Lazarists)
 Notable residents
- Ali Vegas, rapper- From South Jamaica
- Rafer Alston, basketball player
- Lloyd Banks, rapper - From South Jamaica
- Bob Beamon, Olympic gold medalist
- Paul Bowles, writer and composer
- Jimmy Breslin, author and columnist
- Mike Bruhert, New York Mets pitcher in the late 1970's
- Sri Chinmoy, philosopher and spiritual teacher
- Alan Dugan, poet
- 50 Cent, rapper (Head of G-unit records)
- Ann Flood, actress
- Milford Graves, a free-jazz drummer
- Marc Iavaroni, basketball player
- James P. Johnson, pianist and composer
- Crad Kilodney, writer
- Rufus King, signer of the United States Constitution
- Lamar Odom, basketball player
- Nuttin' But Stringz, violinist
- Tragedy Styles, story writer, lyricist
- A Tribe Called Quest, Rap Group
- Tony Yayo, rapper (G-unit recordings)
- Yummy Bingham, singer
 External links
- Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (the source of much of the historical information in this article)
- The Cultural Collaboration of Jamaica JAMS sponsor
- York College Web Site
- King Manor Museum, home of anti-slavery Founding Father Rufus King
 Maps and aerial photography
- TerraServer Topographic Map
- TerraServer aerial photo
- Google street map
- Google hybrid map
- Map of Queens neighborhoods