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Real EstateCity LivingQueens

City Living: Downtown Flushing

Flushing is a bustling neighborhood with a downtown area home to businesses predominantly owned and operated by the communitys growing Asian population.

Signs in English are a rarity in downtown Flushing, which makes visitors feel like they have been transplanted to a foreign shore.

The mix of ethnicities has helped Queens become one of the most diverse counties in America.

You come out of the 7 train and you almost feel like youre in a different world, said Ellen Kodadek, executive director for Flushing Town Hall, an arts and culture nonprofit. I feel as though Flushing is really reflective of this country as a melting pot.

The Asian community is deeply embedded in the area and nearly 80% of businesses have either Chinese or Korean owners.

A diverse array of authentic cuisines, products and services are available in the area. And lots of food.

While downtown Flushing is known as a Mecca of multiculturalism that is heavily urbanized, there are also suburban streets lined with trees that echo the neighborhoods past.

Preservationists for years have tried to save some of the expansive houses and estates developed here between 1875 and 1925. These residences sit blocks away from modern high-rise buildings and shopping malls.

Flushings embrace of multiculturalism has roots in the neighborhoods founding in 1645 by English settlers as a beacon of religious freedom. One settler, John Bowne, allowed Quakers to practice in his home, defying laws of the time. His house still stands, as well as the Old Quaker Meeting House on Northern Boulevard, which is New York Citys oldest house of worship. --MAX STAVIS with DAN RIVOLI