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Queens is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Geographically the largest borough in the city, Queens is home to many immigrants and two of New York's major airports.

The borough of Queens is coterminous with Queens County, which is also the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. As of the 2000 census immigrants comprise 46% of its residents. It is estimated that by 2010 the majority of its population will be foreign born. With a population of 2.2 million it is the second most populous borough in New York City and the tenth most populous county in the United States.

Queens was established in 1683 as one of the original 12 counties of New York and was named for the then-queen consort, Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. [1] [2] The borough is often considered one of the more suburban boroughs of New York City. Neighborhoods in eastern Queens have a look and feel similar to the bordering suburbs of western Nassau County. In its western and central sections, however, Queens is home to many urban neighborhoods and several central business districts. Long Island City, on the Queens' waterfront across from Manhattan, is the site of the Citicorp Building, the tallest skyscraper in New York City outside of Manhattan.


[edit] History

European colonization brought both Dutch and English settlers, as a part of the New Netherlands colony, towns such as Flushing (English corruption of the Dutch town name Vlissingen), Maspeth, Newtown (now Elmhurst), Jamaica and others were founded. However, these towns were mostly inhabited by English settlers from New England via eastern Long Island (Suffolk County) subject to Dutch law. After the capture of the colony by the English and its renaming as New York in 1664, the area (and all of Long Island) became known as Yorkshire.

The borough of Queens was originally named after Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II of England. Originally, Queens County included the adjacent area now comprising Nassau County. It was an original county of New York State, one of twelve created in 1683. By 1870, Queens County consisted of six towns: Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica, North Hempstead, Hempstead, and Oyster Bay. In 1870, the city of Long Island City was incorporated, consisting of what had been the Village of Astoria and some unincorporated areas in the Town of Newtown. As a result of a referendum, Long Island City, Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica, and the Rockaway Peninsula of the Town of Hempstead became the Borough of Queens in New York City on January 1, 1898. The part of Queens County that was not consolidated into New York City, consisting of the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay and all of the Town of Hempstead, except the Rockaway Peninsula, was constituted as the new Nassau County in 1899.

See also: History of New York City

[edit] Geography

Queens County is in the western part of Long Island and includes a few smaller islands, most of which are in Jamaica Bay and form part of Gateway National Recreation Area. The Rockaway Peninsula sits between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The tallest tree in the New York metropolitan area, called the Queens Giant, is also the oldest living thing in the New York metro area. It is located in northeastern Queens, and is 450 years old and 134 feet tall as of 2005.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 461.7 km² (178.3 mi²); 282.9 km² (109.2 mi²) of it is land and 178.8 km² (69.0 mi²) of it (38.73%) is water.

See also: Geography and environment of New York City

[edit] Neighborhoods

Image:Jackson Heights 3.jpg
A typical residential street in Jackson Heights.

The United States Postal Service divides the borough into five "towns" based roughly on those in existence at the time of the consolidation of the five boroughs into New York City: Long Island City, Jamaica, Flushing, Far Rockaway, and Floral Park. These ZIP codes do not necessarily reflect actual neighborhood names and boundaries; "East Elmhurst," for example, was largely coined by the United States Postal Service and is not an official community. Most neighborhoods have no solid boundaries. The Forest Hills and Rego Park neighborhoods, for instance, overlap.

Residents of Queens often closely identify with their neighborhood rather than with the borough or city as a whole. Postal addresses are written with the neighborhood, state, and then zip code rather than the borough or city. The borough is a patchwork of dozens of unique neighborhoods, each with its own distinct identity. Howard Beach and Middle Village are home to large Italian-American populations, Rockaway Beach has a large Irish-American population, Astoria, in the northwest, is traditionally home to one of the largest Greek population outside of Greece, and is home to a growing population of young professionals from Manhattan. Maspeth is home to many European immigrants, including a large Polish population, as well as a large Hispanic population.

Long Island City is a major commercial center and the home of the Queensbridge housing project. Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona make up an enormous conglomeration of Hispanic and Asian American communities. Richmond Hill, in the south, has the largest population of Sikhs outside of India; Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, in central Queens, have traditionally large Jewish populations (many of these communities are Jewish immigrants from Israel, Iran and the former Soviet Union) while Jamaica is home to large African American and Caribbean populations. There are also middle-class African-American, Filipino American, Latino and Caribbean neighborhoods such as Saint Albans, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Rosedale and Laurelton along east and southeast Queens. Together, these neighborhoods comprise the most diverse county in the United States. Some Queens neighborhoods, such as Ozone Park, Bayside, Maspeth, Kew Gardens and Woodside are home to a very diverse mix of many different nationalities.

See also: List of Queens neighborhoods

[edit] Adjacent Counties

[edit] Government

Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, Queens has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a strong mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services in Queens.

The office of Borough President was created in the consolidation of 1898 to balance centralization with local authority. Each borough president had a powerful administrative role derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city's budget and proposals for land use. In 1989 the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had no greater effective representation on the Board than Staten Island, the least populous borough, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.<ref>Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006</ref>

Since 1990 the Borough President has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations. Queens' Borough President is Helen Marshall, elected as a Democrat in 2001 and re-elected in 2005.

The Democratic Party holds the majority of public offices. 63% of registered Queens voters are Democrats. Local party platforms center on affordable housing, education and economic development. Controversial political issues in Queens include development, noise, and the cost of housing.

Each of the city's five counties (coterminous with each borough) has its own criminal court system and District Attorney, the chief public prosecutor who is directly elected by popular vote. Richard A. Brown, a Democrat, has been the District Attorney of Queens County since 1991. Queens has 12 City Council members, the second largest number among the five boroughs. It also has 14 administrative districts, each served by a local Community Board. Community Boards are representative bodies that field complaints and serve as advocates for local residents. The Queens county seat is the district of Jamaica.

Although it is heavily Democratic, Queens is considered a swing county in New York politics. Republican political candidates who do well in Queens usually win citywide or statewide elections. Republicans such as former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and current Mayor Michael Bloomberg won majorities in Queens. Republican State Senator Serphin Maltese represents a district in central and southern Queens. In 2002, Queens voted against incumbent Republican Governor of New York George Pataki in favor of his Democratic opponent, Carl McCall.

Queens has not voted for a Republican candidate in a presidential election since 1972, when Queens voters chose Richard Nixon over George McGovern. In the 2004 presidential election Democrat John Kerry received 71.7% of the vote in Queens and Republican George W. Bush received 21.4%.

[edit] Economy

Image:Planes at JFK.jpg
John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens is a major entry point for international arrivals in the United States.

The economy of Queens is based on tourism, industry, and trade. Queens has two of the busiest airports in the world, John F. Kennedy International Airport, located in Jamaica, and La Guardia Airport, in Flushing. Queens is increasingly attracting film studios — a return of an industry that had departed decades earlier — notably the Kaufman Studios in Astoria, where a number of television shows are made.

The Queens Museum of Art and the New York Hall of Science are further east, in Flushing Meadows Park — site of both the 1939 New York World's Fair, the 1964 New York World's Fair and the annual US Open tennis tournament. Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets baseball team, is just north of the park. The park is also the third largest park in New York City at 1,255 acres, making it 412 acres larger then Central Park in Manhattan.

Several large companies have their headquarters in Queens, including Bulova, Glacéau and JetBlue.

Long Island City is a major manufacturing and commercial center. Flushing, in the north-central part of the borough, is a major commercial hub for Chinese American and Korean American businesses, while Jamaica is a major business and transportation hub for the borough.

See also: Economy of New York City

[edit] Demographics

Queens Compared
2000 CensusQueensNY CityNY State
Total population2,229,3798,008,27818,976,457
Population density20,409.0/mi²26,403/mi²402/mi²
Median household income (1999)$37,439$38,293$43,393
Per capita income$14,222$22,402$23,389
Bachelor's degree or higher23%27%24%
Foreign born44%36%20%
Hispanic (any race)25%27%14%

As of the census2(gr) Geographic references. of 2000, there were 2,229,379 people, 782,664 households, and 537,690 families residing in the county. The population density was 7,879.6/km² (20,409.0/mi²). There were 817,250 housing units at an average density of 2,888.5/km² (7,481.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 44.08% White, 20.01% Black or African American, 0.50% Native American, 17.56% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 11.68% from other races, and 6.11% from two or more races. 24.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Some main European ancestry in Queens, 2000:

According to the Census Bureau, the population increased to 2,241,600 in 2005.

The 2000 census show also that the borough is home to one of the most important concentration of Indian-Americans in the nation, with a total population of 129,715 (5,79% of the borough population) ([3], as well as of Pakistani-Americans who numbers 15,604[4]. Queens has the second largest Sikh population in the nation after California.

There were 782,664 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 25.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.39.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,439, and the median income for a family was $42,608. Males had a median income of $30,576 versus $26,628 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,222. About 16.9% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over. In 2005, the median income among black households in Queens was close to $52,000 a year, surpassing that of whites. No other county in the country with a population over 65,000 can make that claim.<ref>"Black Incomes Surpass Whites in Queens." The New York times. 1 Oct 2006.[5]</ref>. Many of these African-Americans live in upper middle class suburban neighborhoods near the Nassau County border, such as Laurelton, Cambria Heights and Rosedale, which have large black populations.

The Top Ten Languages Spoken in Queens according to the NY State Comptroller:<ref>http://queens.about.com/od/queensalmanac/f/languages.htm</ref>

  1. English
  2. Spanish
  3. Chinese
  4. Italian
  5. Gujarati
  6. Punjabi
  7. Russian
  8. Korean
  9. French
  10. Greek

[edit] Culture

Image:Worlds Fair NYC 1964.jpg
The Unisphere, unofficial symbol of Queens.
Image:PS1 exterior .jpg
P.S. 1 is a nationally-renowned center for contemporary art.

Queens was an epicenter of jazz in the 1940s. Jazz greats likes Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald found refuge from segregation in the mixed communities of the borough, while a younger generation — Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and others — were developing bebop in the clubs of Harlem.

Western Queens is becoming an artistic hub, including the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, Museum for African Art, and the American Museum of the Moving Image. The P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in the neighborhood of Long Island City is one of the largest and oldest institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. In addition to its renowned exhibitions, the institution also organizes the prestigious International and National Projects series, the Warm Up summer music series, and the the Young Architects Program with The Museum of Modern Art. The current poet laureate of Queens is Ishle Yi Park.

Queens is home to many cultural institutions, including among others:

See also: List of people from Queens, Culture of New York City, and Music of New York City

[edit] Sports

Queens is the home of the New York Mets baseball team. The U.S. Open tennis tournament, and Aqueduct Racetrack are also found here. Just over the Queens line (in Nassau County) is Belmont Park Race Track, the home of the Belmont Stakes. In the past, Extreme Championship Wrestling has been held at an Elks lodge in Elmhurst.

[edit] Transportation

Twelve New York City subway routes traverse Queens, serving 81 stations on seven main lines. About 100 local bus routes move people around within Queens, and another 15 express routes shuttle commuters between Queens and Manhattan. A commuter train system, the Long Island Rail Road, operates 20 stations in Queens with service to Manhattan and Long Island. Jamaica Station is a hub station where all the lines in the system but one converge. It is the busiest commuter rail hub in the United States. Sunnyside Yard is used as a staging area by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit for intercity and commuter trains from Penn Station in Manhattan.

Queens has crucial importance in international and interstate air traffic. Two of New York City's three major airports are located there; LaGuardia Airport is in northern Queens, while John F. Kennedy International Airport is to the south on the shores of Jamaica Bay. AirTrain JFK provides a rail link between JFK and local rail lines.

Queens is traversed by three trunk east-west highways. The Long Island Expressway, also known as Interstate 495, runs from the Queens Midtown Tunnel on the west through the borough to Naussau County on the east. The Grand Central Parkway, whose western terminus is the Triborough Bridge, extends east to the Queens/Nassau border, where its name changes to the Northern State Parkway. The Belt Parkway begins at the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, and extends east into Queens, past Aqueduct Racetrack and JFK Airport. On its eastern end at the Queens/Nassau border, it splits into the Southern State Parkway which continues east, and the Cross Island Parkway which turns north.

There are also several major north-south highways in Queens, including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Interstate 278), the Van Wyck Expressway (Interstate 678), the Clearview Expressway (Interstate 295), and the Cross Island Parkway.

The streets of Queens are laid out in a semi-grid system, with a numerical system of street names (similar to Manhattan and the Bronx). Nearly all roadways oriented north-south are streets, while east-west roadways are avenues, beginning with the number 1 (west to east with streets and north to south with avenues). In some parts of the borough, several consecutive streets may share numbers (for instance, 72nd Street followed by 72nd Place, or 52nd Avenue followed by 52nd Road, 52nd Drive, and 52nd Court), often causing confusion for non-residents. In addition, conflicting sections of street grids, unusual street paths due to geography, or other circumstances often lead to the skipping of numbers (for instance, on Ditmars Blvd. 70th Street is followed by Hazen Street which is followed by 49th Street). Numbered roads tend to be residential, although there are many notable exceptions throughout the borough. A fair number of streets (especially major thoroughfares such as Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, and Jamaica Avenue) carry names rather than numbers.

The Rockaway Peninsula does not follow the same system as the rest of the borough and has its own numbering system. Streets are numbered in ascending order heading west from near the Nassau County border, and are prefixed with the word "Beach." Streets at the easternmost end, however, are nearly all named. Another deviance from the norm is Broad Channel; it maintains the north-south numbering progression but uses only the suffix "Road," as well as the prefixes "West" and "East," depending on location relative to Cross Bay Boulevard, the neighboorhood's major through street.

Queens is connected to the Bronx by three bridges: the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Triborough Bridge.

Queens is connected to Manhattan by two bridges and one tunnel: the Triborough Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

While most of the Queens/Brooklyn border is on land, the Kosciuszko Bridge (I-278) crosses the Newtown Creek connecting Maspeth, Queens to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Pulaski Bridge connects McGuinness Boulevard of Greenpoint to 11th Street, Jackson Avenue, and Hunters Point Avenue of Long Island City. The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge connects Greenpoint and Long Island City Avenues of the same name. East of Queens Boulevard (NY-25), Greenpont Avenue becomes Roosevelt Avenue.

The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge connects the Rockaway Peninsula to the rest of Queens.

There is currently only one year-round scheduled ferry service connecting Queens and Manhattan. New York Water Taxi operates service across the East River from Hunters Point in Long Island City to Manhattan at 34th Street and south to Pier 11 at Wall Street. During baseball season, NY Waterway ferries operate to Shea Stadium for New York Mets weekend home games<ref>Ferry Services to Shea Stadium, accessed May 16, 2006</ref>.

See also: Transportation in New York City

[edit] Education

Education in Queens is provided by a vast number of public and private institutions. Public schools in the borough are managed by the New York City Department of Education, the largest public school system in the United States.

LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY), is known as "The World's Community College" for its diverse international student body representing more than 150 countries and speaking over 100 languages. The college has been named a National Institution of Excellence by the Policy Center on the First Year of College and one of the top three large community colleges in the United States.<ref>"Top 3 Large Community Colleges in the U.S." Community College Survey of Student Engagement, 2002</ref>.

Queensborough Community College, originally part of the State University of New York, is in Bayside and is now part of CUNY. It prepares students to attend senior colleges mainly in the CUNY system.

Queens College is one of the elite colleges in the CUNY system. Established in 1937 to offer a strong liberal arts education to the residents of the borough, Queens College has over 16,000 students including more than 12,000 undergraduates and over 4,000 graduate students. Students from 120 different countries speaking 66 different languages are enrolled at the school, which is located in Flushing. Ranked eighth in the United States by The Princeton Review in its 2006 edition of "America's Best Value Colleges," Queens College is also the host of CUNY's law school.

York College is one of CUNY's leading general-purpose liberal arts colleges, granting bachelor's degrees in more than 40 fields, as well as a combined BS/MS degree in Occupational Therapy. Noted for its Health Sciences Programs York College is also home to the Northeast Regional Office of the Food and Drug Administration.

St. John's University is a private, coeducational Roman Catholic university founded in 1870 by the Vincentian Fathers. With over 19,000 students, St. John's is known for its medical, pharmacy, business and law programs as well as its men's basketball and soccer teams.

The Queens Borough Public Library is the public library system for the borough and one of three library systems serving New York City. Dating back to the foundation of the first Queens library in Flushing in 1858, the Queens Borough Public Library is one of the largest public library systems in the United States. Separate from the New York Public Library, it its comprised of 63 branches throughout the borough. In fiscal year 2001, the Library achieved a circulation of 16.8 million. First in circulation in New York State since 1985, the Library has maintained the highest circulation of any city library in the country since 1985 and the highest circulation of any library in the nation since 1987. The Library maintains collections in many languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian Creole, Polish, and six Indic languages, as well as smaller collections in 19 other languages.

See also: Education in New York City

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

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