City Living: Long Island City
The waterfront western Queens neighborhood of Long Island City is undergoing a massive facelift. Once populated with factories and other industrial buildings, it is now burgeoning with high-rise luxury condo buildings, trendy restaurants and a vibrant arts scene.
The changes are making it a hot destination spot in Queens: The waterfront is taking on a swanky look, the buildings are bringing in new residents, and the culinary and artistic endeavors of locals are attracting visitors from all parts of Queens, Manhattan and elsewhere.
“It’s a beehive of activity that’s incredibly diverse,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the LIC Partnership, an organization that advocates for economic development of the area.
“It’s a great vibe and it’s welcoming,” she added. “There are great restaurants tucked all over the place and you’re not waiting on line for everything.”
Long Island City boasts many artistic establishments ranging from galleries like the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, located in a brownstone on 45th Road, the SPACEWOMb Gallery on Stanton Street, the SculptureCenter on Purves Street, and Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard.
For theater lovers, it is home to spaces like Ten10 studios on 47th Road, which serves as an art and performance space, the Chocolate Factory Theater on 49th Avenue, the Green Space on 24th Street, an incubator of dance performance art, and the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue.
The area also attracts many entrepreneurs working in creative, tech, food manufacturing and industrial sectors, working together in places like The Entrepreneur’s Space business incubator on 37th Street. “The whole ecosystem and the tenant mix in some buildings is amazing,” Lusskin said, noting that the companies support the larger NYC area.
Some entrepreneurial names include Brooklyn Grange, a massive rooftop farm that sits atop the Standard Motor Products building on Northern Boulevard, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Rockaway Brewing Company, and Shapeways, one of the largest 3D printing/manufacturing facilities in the world.
Lusskin noted that the area is currently attracting all kinds of residents, from young families to professionals and older adults. Some are moving into the new buildings, while others opt for the old brownstones or row houses that still populate much of the area’s quiet streets.
The neighborhood is also home to the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in North America, which cranked out famous names like Nas and Mobb Deep.
“I’ve seen [LIC] transform,” said Eric Benaim, the CEO and president of the Modern Spaces NYC real estate company who has lived in Long Island City since 2005. “For years it has been an up and coming area, but I feel it’s not ‘up and coming’ anymore. It’s here.”
Benaim said LIC has something for everyone from a low-rise building to one and two family walk-up townhouse or a 45-story tower with full amenities.
“A lot of people when first come here, they say it’s all industrial. We do have it; some industrial buildings are spread out throughout the neighborhood and some have been converted to artists lofts and creative spaces,” he said. “So when people come here who are not really familiar with how LIC has changed, they’re amazed.
In his experience as an agent and resident, LIC doesn’t have trouble attracting new residents and visitors.
“A lot of people come for places like PS1 and all the different cultural institutions. The waterfront on a hot day is like Central Park,” he said. “It feels like a neighborhood. After a month or two you know everyone’s name here. A lot of people move in and become a little bit of a ‘LIC snob’ – they don’t want to live anywhere else.”
“For a weekend, you can come down and go to the LIC Flea, walk up the block to Gantry State Park, go on the piers and have a beautiful view of the city, visit PS1,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy.”
By LISA FRASER
Sixty percent of the units in the development will be affordable housing. More »
Long Island City runs north from 35th Avenue to Newtown Creek in the south. In the east it is bordered by Van Dam Street up north to Queens Boulevard and over to Northern Boulevard. In the west it is bounded by the East River. More »
Trains: 7 to Vernon Boulevard Jackson Avenue, Hunters Point Avenue, Court Square, Queensboro Plaza, 33rd Street-Rawson Street; G to 21st Street, Court Square; E to Court Square-23rd Street, Queens Plaza; F to 21st Street Queensbridge; M to Court Square-23rd Street, Queens Plaza, 36th St.; N, Q to Queensboro Plaza, 39th Avenue, 36th Avenue; R to Queens Plaza, 36th Street/Northern Boulevard More »
Long Island City is divided between the 108th Precinct at 5-47 50th Ave. and the 114th Precinct at 34-16 Astoria Blvd. There were two robberies and nine grand larcenies reported by the 108th Precinct in the week of April 14-20, and no murders or rapes in the year to date. The 114th Precinct reported seven felony assaults, four burglaries, and eight grand theft autos that week. It reported one murder and no rapes in the year to date. More »
Queens Library, Long Island City, 37-44 21st St. More »
USPS Hunter’s Point, 46-02 21st St. More »
This long-time nabe fav serves up various pasta dishes, brick oven pizza, and other entrees like vitello milanese and salmon al forno, brick oven roasted salmon.
Brunch is popular at this French spot. The eggs Benedict are a hit but everything from omelets to crepes and French toast are offered as jazz music fills the air.
Madera Cuban Grill and Steakhouse
Mojitos and Jalapeno margaritas wash down dishes like plantains and guacamole, Sofrito steamed mussels or the Madera style steak as patrons pack into this colorful and vibrant eatery.
Domaine Bar A Vins
Cozy up in this classy wine bar and sip on a selection of international and vintage vinos. A large cheese selection and oysters also await, and the décor exudes an antiquated feel.
An antique wood bar, brick walls and original tin ceilings meet the eyes of patrons at this century-old bar. An outdoor garden is offered in the warm months along with live music on Sundays.
This newly opened establishment exudes LIC pride with the popular Pepsi-Cola sign hanging on the wall of the dining area and monthly art shows by local artists. Draft beers, cocktails and wine are served alongside lamb popsicles, veal meatballs and pork loin adobo.
Contemporary art is displayed within a Romanesque Revival building at this acclaimed art institution. One of the most popular art events, Warm Up, is held every Saturday from June 28 through Sept. 6 from 3-9 p.m. -- DJs spin live music as visitors party outdoors.
The Secret Theatre
Showcasing a range of performances from musicals to dramas, dance and film festivals, this off off-Broadway spot is a hidden gem in Long Island City. From May 16-18 they will host the Queens New Music Festival, featuring Queens-based musicians.
The Creek and The Cave
This restaurant, bar and comedy club is a Long Island City staple which showcases emerging and established comedians. Weekly shows like Mic and Cheese and Death Comedy Jam get the crowd roaring.
Richard Nieto opened Sweetleaf in 2008, but it took the now-popular biz about four years to become profitable, he said. Nieto has since opened two more locations – one in Long Island City on Center Boulevard and another in Williamsburg on Kent Avenue. “We don’t want to be the best option in the neighborhood, we want to be the best option period,” said the 40-year-old who was born and raised in Flushing. Some of the cozy shop’s signature drinks include a strawberry iced tea and Voodoo Child, a Vietnamese creamy cold brew. More »