Long Island City, Queens (History)

(Neighborhoods In Queens)

neighborhoods_queens_long_island_city_300x300Long Island City (L.I.C.) is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. L.I.C. is noted for its rapid and ongoing gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community. L.I.C. has among the highest concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space of any neighborhood in New York City. The neighborhood is bounded on the north by the Queens neighborhood of Astoria; on the west by the East River; on the east by Hazen Street, 31st Street, and New Calvary Cemetery; and on the south by Newtown Creek, which separates Queens from Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It originally was the seat of government of Newtown Township, and remains the largest neighborhood in Queens. The area is part of Queens Community Board 1 north of the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and Queens Community Board 2 south of the Bridge.

Long Island City is the eastern terminus of the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge, which is the only non-toll automotive route connecting Queens and Manhattan. Northwest of the bridge terminus are the Queensbridge Houses, a development of the New York City Housing Authority and the largest public housing complex in North America.

 

HISTORY

Long Island City, as its name suggests, was formerly a city, created in 1870 from the merger of the Village of Astoria and the hamlets of Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills, Steinway, Bowery Bay and Middleton in Newtown Township. It was a separate city until 1898. The last mayor of Long Island City was a notorious Irishman named Patrick Jerome “Battle-Axe” Gleason.

The city surrendered its independence in 1898 to become part of the City of Greater New York. However, Long Island City survives as ZIP code 11101 and ZIP code prefix 111 (with its own main post office) and was formerly a Sectional center facility (SCF). Since 1985, the Greater Astoria Historical Society, a non-profit cultural and historical organization, has been preserving the past and promoting the future of the neighborhoods that are part of historic Long Island City.

The Common Council of Long Island City in 1873 adopted the coat of arms as “emblematical of the varied interest represented by Long Island City.” It was designed by George H. Williams, of Ravenswood. The overall composition was inspired by New York City’s Coat of Arms. The shield is rich in historic allusion, including Native-American, Dutch, and English symbols.

In 1898, Long Island City became part of New York City. Through the 1930s, numerous subway tunnels, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the Queensboro Bridge were built to connect the neighborhood to Manhattan. By the 1970s, the factories in Long Island City were being abandoned. In 1981, Queens West on the west side of Long Island City was developed to revitalize the area. Finally, in 2001, the neighborhood was rezoned from an industrial neighborhood to a residential neighborhood, and the area underwent gentrification, with developments such as Hunter’s Point South being built in the area.

In 2006 a resident of Woodside, Queens, Hiroyuki Takenaga, proposed establishing a Japantown in Long Island City.

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Long Island City comprises a population that is 1% Native American Indian, 10% African American, 15% Asian or Pacific Islander, 52% White, 9% mixed race, and 15% of “other” demographics. There is an equal proportion of female residents to male residents.