Nicknamed “The World’s Borough,” Queens is one of the most culturally diverse urban areas on the planet, and Jackson Heights is often considered its epicenter.
For those with a healthy appetite, the neighborhood boasts an enviable food scene, thanks to various ethnic enclaves including large Indian, South American and South Asian populations.
Walking down 74th Street, it’s easy to see why the thoroughfare is nicknamed “Indian Row.” Men in traditional Indian garb chat on the sidewalks and heady spices emanate from the many eateries and grocery stores lining the block, from street vendors selling spicy Indian chaat to the inexpensive lunch buffet at Jackson Diner to the grand Patel Brothers grocery store, a source for Madras curry powder and other spices to cook with at home.
On Sundays, foodies from around the city head to the Jackson Heights Greenmarket for seafood, bread, vegetables and fruits, meats, wines and other goods.
“Jackson Heights is almost so diverse that sometimes you just want a hamburger,” chuckled resident Alfonso Quiroz, 43, a Con Edison spokesman.
Quiroz, who also runs “OUT Jackson Heights,” a monthly dinner party that hosts around 20 LGBT guests at area restaurants, joked that he is heartened by the recent arrival of Emoji Burger on 37th Avenue.
“I love it,” he said of his neighborhood.
Jackson Heights often serves as a stepping stone for newcomers who migrate to the city from other states and countries, according to Alan Lightfeldt, a data scientist at the real estate listings site StreetEasy.
“The network in Jackson Heights is very strong,” Lightfeldt said.
It’s also easy for new buyers and renters to find apartments, he said, but added that the nabe can feel a bit crowded with so many people living there.
“On the whole, Jackson Heights is extremely buyer-friendly and renter-friendly when you compare it to other parts of Queens,” Lightfeldt said.
The nabe’s median asking sales price in 2015 — $253,000 — was 15.5% cheaper than Queens as a whole, according to StreetEasy, and the sales market is mostly dominated by co-ops, which tend to sell for less money than condos. The median asking rent on a one-bedroom in the area in 2015 was $1,775.
To pay Jackson Heights a visit, hop on one of many buses that serve the area or take one of several trains to the Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street subway stop.
Near the transit hub, say hello to the neighborhood mascot: a penguin statue named Wink that is always dressed up by a local.
“It’s a nice mix because it’s definitely an urban area, with apartment buildings and everything, but it definitely has a suburban feel to it,” said Monica Pagan, 27, program coordinator for the career advising program at the NYU School of Medicine, who’s lived in Jackson Heights for two years.
“There’s trees in the medians of the avenues,” she said.
If there was one improvement Pagan would like to see in the nabe, it would be better sanitation on roads not managed by business improvement districts, she admitted.
“There’s a lot of trash on the streets, like all the time,” she said.
And while Pagan speaks Spanish, her live-in boyfriend sometimes has to ask for translations in local businesses. “But the signage is good and people are very helpful,” she said. (WITH HEATHER SENISON)
Jackson Heights is bordered to the north by Astoria Boulevard and to the south by Roosevelt Avenue, according to StreetEasy. It is bound to the west by 68th Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and to the east by 94th and 89th streets.