Long Island City

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Long Island City
The expanding skyline of Long Island City, Queens, one of New York City's fastest-growing neighborhoods,[1] as seen in 2015
The expanding skyline of Long Island City, Queens, one of New York City's fastest-growing neighborhoods,[1] as seen in 2015
Location within New York City
Coordinates: Coordinates: 40°45′03″N 73°56′28″W / 40.7509°N 73.9411°W / 40.7509; -73.9411
Country United States
State New York
CityNew York City
Community DistrictQueens 1[2]
 • Total68,117
ZIP code
11101–11106, 11109, 11120
Area codes718, 347, 929, and 917

Long Island City (LIC) is a residential and commercial neighborhood located on the extreme western tip of Queens, New York City, at the western edge of Long Island. It is bordered by Astoria to the north; the East River to the west; Hazen Street, 49th Street, and New Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside to the east; and Newtown Creek—which separates Queens from Greenpoint, Brooklyn—to the south. The area is part of Queens Community Board 1 to the north and Queens Community Board 2 to the south.

Incorporated as a separate city in 1870, Long Island City was originally the seat of government of the Town of Newtown, before becoming part of New York City in 1898. Starting in the early 21st century, Long Island City became known for its rapid and ongoing residential growth and gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community.[3] The area has a high concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space.[4]

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


As independent city[edit]

Early 1900s map of Dutch Kills, from Greater Astoria Historical Society
Detail of map of LIC, from Greater Astoria Historical Society

Long Island City was formerly a city of its own, 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 the Town of Newtown.[5] At the time of its incorporation, Long Island City had between 12,000 and 15,000 residents.[5] Its charter provided for an elected mayor and a ten-member Board of Alderman with two representing each of the city's five wards.[5] City ordinances could be passed by a majority vote of the Board of Aldermen and the mayor's signature.[6]

Long Island City held its first election on July 5, 1870.[7] Residents elected A.D. Delmars the first mayor; Delmars ran as both a Democrat and a Republican.[7] The first elected Board of Aldermen was H. Rudolph and Patrick Lonirgan (Ward 1); Francis McNena and William E. Bragaw (Ward 2); George Hunter and Mr. Williams (Third Ward); James R. Bennett and John Wegart (Ward Four); and E.M. Hartshort and William Carlin (Fifth Ward).[7] The mayor and the aldermen were inaugurated on July 18, 1870.[8]

In the 1880s, Mayor De Bevoise nearly bankrupted the Long Island City government by embezzlement, of which he was convicted.[9] Many dissatisfied residents of Astoria circulated a petition to ask the New York State Legislature to allow it to secede from Long Island City and reincorporate as the Village of Astoria, as it existed prior to the incorporation of Long Island City, in 1884.[9] The petition was ultimately dropped by the citizens.[10]

Long Island City continued to exist as an incorporated city until 1898, when all of Queens was annexed to New York City.[11] The last mayor of Long Island City was an Irish-American named Patrick Jerome "Battle-Axe" Gleason.

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.[12] In 1898, Long Island City became part of New York City.

After incorporation into New York City[edit]

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 nonprofit cultural and historical organization, has been preserving the past and promoting the future of the neighborhoods that are part of historic Long Island 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.

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.[13] Since then, there has been substantial commercial and residential growth in Long Island City, with 41 new residential apartment buildings being built just between 2010 and 2017.[14][15] A resident of nearby Woodside proposed establishing a Japantown in Long Island City in 2006, though this did not occur.[16]

Historic landmarks[edit]

In addition to the Hunters Point Historic District and Queensboro Bridge, the 45th Road – Court House Square Station (Dual System IRT), Long Island City Courthouse Complex, and United States Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[17] New York City designated landmarks include the Pepsi-Cola sign along the East River, which was designated in April 2016.[18]


Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of the combined Queensbridge-Ravenswood-Long Island City neighborhood was 20,030, a decrease of 1,074 (5.1%) from the 21,104 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 540.94 acres (218.91 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 37.0 inhabitants per acre (23,700/sq mi; 9,100/km2).[19]

The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 14.7% (2,946) White, 25.9% (5,183) African American, 0.3% (62) Native American, 15.5% (3,096) Asian, 0.0% (6) Pacific Islander, 1.2% (248) from other races, and 1.9% (385) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 40.5% (8,104) of the population.[20]

Commerce and economy[edit]

Developments and buildings[edit]

Long Island City, Queens as seen across the East River from One World Observatory, Manhattan, in 2017
Gantry Plaza State Park, as seen from the west
Gantry cranes in Gantry Plaza State Park on the Long Island City waterfront

Long Island City was once home to many factories and bakeries, some of which are finding new uses. The former Silvercup bakery is now home to Silvercup Studios, which has produced notable works such as NBC's 30 Rock and HBO's Sex and the City. The Silvercup sign is visible from the IRT Flushing Line and BMT Astoria Line trains going into and out of Queensboro Plaza (7, <7>​​, N, and ​W trains). The former Sunshine Bakery is now one of the buildings which houses LaGuardia Community College. Other buildings on the campus originally served as the location of the Ford Instrument Company, which was at one time a major producer of precision machines and devices. Artist Isamu Noguchi converted a photo-engraving plant into a workshop; the site is now the Noguchi Museum, a space dedicated to his work.

The Standard Motor Products headquarters, a manufacturing site producing items like distributor caps, was once located in the industrial neighborhood of Long Island City until purchased by Acuman Partners in 2008 for $40 million. The Standard Motor Products Building was put on the market by Acuman in 2014 and acquired by RXR Realty, LLC for $110 million. The former factory built in 1919 now houses the Jim Henson Company, Society Awards, and a commercial rooftop farm run by Brooklyn Grange.[21]

High-rise housing is being built on a former Pepsi-Cola site on the East River. From June 2002 to September 2004, the former Swingline Staplers plant was the temporary headquarters of the Museum of Modern Art. Other former factories in Long Island City include Fisher Electronics and Chiclets Gum. Long Island City's turn-of-the-century district of residential towers, called Queens West, is located along the East River, just north of the LIRR's Long Island City Station. Redevelopment in Queens West reflects the intent to have the area as a major residential area in New York City, with its high-rise residences very close to public transportation, making it convenient for commuters to travel to Manhattan by ferry or subway. The first tower, the 42-floor Citylights, opened in 1998 with an elementary school at the base. Others have been completed since then and more are being planned or under construction.

Today, the most prominent structure, other than Queensboro Bridge, is the community's green skyscraper, the 658-foot (201 m) Citicorp Building built in 1989 on Courthouse Square. It is the tallest building on Long Island and in any of the New York City boroughs outside Manhattan.[22] Socioeconomic diversity is very visible in Long Island City; the Queensbridge Houses are composed of over 3,000 units, making it the largest public housing complex in North America.


Eagle Electric, now known as Cooper Wiring Devices, was one of the last major factories in the area, before it moved to China; Plant No. 7, which was the largest of their factories and housed their corporate offices, is being converted to residential luxury lofts.[23][24]

Long Island City is currently home to the largest fortune cookie factory in the United States, owned by Wonton Foods and producing four million fortune cookies a day. Lucky numbers included on fortunes in the company's cookies led to 110 people across the United States winning $100,000 each in a May 2005 drawing for Powerball.[25][26][27]

Online grocery company FreshDirect serves the greater New York metropolitan area via deliveries from a warehouse and administrative offices on Borden Avenue. A customer can also order online and come to the warehouse for pickup.

The Brooks Brothers tie manufacturing factory, which employs 122 people and produces more than 1.5 million ties per year, has operated in Long Island City since 1999.[28]

Long Island City is the new home of independent film studio Troma.

In spring 2010, JetBlue Airways announced it was moving its headquarters from Forest Hills to Long Island City, also incorporating the jobs from its Darien, Connecticut, office. The airline, which operates its largest hub at JFK Airport, also operates from LaGuardia Airport, and made the Brewster Building in Queens Plaza its home.[29][30] The airline moved there around mid-2012.[31]

In November 2018, news media claimed that Amazon.com was in final talks with the government of New York State to construct one of two campuses for its proposed Amazon HQ2 at Queens West in Long Island City. The other campus would be located at National Landing in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia. Both campuses would have 25,000 workers.[15] The selection was confirmed by Amazon on November 13, 2018.[32][33] OO February 2019, Amazon announced it was pulling out, citing unexpected opposition from local lawmakers and unions.[34]


North end of canalized Dutch Kills
Montauk Branch bridges over Dutch Kills

In 1870, the villages of Astoria, Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Dutch Kills, Middletown, Sunnyside, Blissville, and Bowery Bay were incorporated into Long Island City.[35]

Dutch Kills[edit]

Dutch Kills was a hamlet, named for its navigable tributary of Newtown Creek, that occupied what today is centrally Queensboro Plaza. Dutch Kills was an important road hub during the American Revolutionary War, and the site of a British Army garrison from 1776 to 1783. The area supported farms during the 19th century. The canalization of Newtown Creek and the Kills at the end of the 19th century intensified industrial development of the area, which prospered until the middle of the 20th century. The neighborhood is currently undergoing a massive rezoning of mixed residential and commercial properties.[35][36]


Blissville, which has the ZIP code 11101, is a neighborhood within Long Island City, located at 40°44'4.87"N73°56'9.81"W[37] and bordered by Calvary Cemetery to the east; the Long Island Expressway to the north; Newtown Creek to the south; and Dutch Kills, a tributary of Newtown Creek, to the west. Blissville was named after Neziah Bliss, who owned most of the land in the 1830s and 1840s.[38] Bliss built the first version of what was known for many years as the Blissville Bridge, a drawbridge over Newtown Creek, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Blissville; it was replaced in the 20th century by the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, also called the J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge, located slightly upstream. Blissville existed as a small village until 1870 when it was incorporated into Long Island City.[35] Historically an industrial neighborhood, it has Triangle 54, a small park with a monument at 54th Avenue and 48th Street.

Hunters Point[edit]

Hunters Point Historic District
Religious procession at 50th Avenue, Hunters Point, Queens, NYC, 1989.jpg
Religious procession crossing 50th Avenue, 1989.
Church at rear is undergoing repair.
Long Island City is located in New York City
Long Island City
Long Island City is located in New York
Long Island City
Long Island City is located in the United States
Long Island City
LocationAlong 45th Ave., between 21st and 23rd Sts., New York City
Coordinates40°44′40.14″N 73°57′12.71″W / 40.7444833°N 73.9535306°W / 40.7444833; -73.9535306
Area1.5 acres (0.61 ha)
Architectural styleMixed (More Than 2 Styles From Different Periods)
NRHP reference #73001251 [17]
Added to NRHPSeptember 19, 1973
Map of industrial Hunters Point, 1891

Hunters Point is on the south side of Long Island City.[39][40][41][42] It contains the Hunters Point Historic District, a national historic district that includes 19 contributing buildings along 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Streets. They are a set of townhouses built in the late 19th century.[43] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[17]

Queens West and Hunter's Point South are located on the waterfront.

Arts and culture[edit]

Long Island City is home to a large and dynamic artistic community.

  • Long Island City was the home of 5 Pointz, a building housing artists' studios, which was legally painted on by a number of graffiti artists and was prominently visible near the Court Square station on the 7 and <7>​ trains.[44] The 5 Pointz building was painted over and demolished, starting in 2013.[45]
  • The Fisher Landau Center for Art is a private foundation that offers regular exhibitions of contemporary art that closed to the public in November 2017.[46]
  • Across the street from Socrates Sculpture Park is the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum, founded in 1985 by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi.[47] After undergoing a two-and-a-half-year renovation completed at a cost of $13.5 million, the museum reopened in 2004 with newer and advanced facilities.[48]
  • MoMA PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, is the oldest and second-largest non-profit arts center in the United States solely devoted to contemporary art. It is named after the former public school in which it is housed.
  • SculptureCenter is New York City's only non-profit exhibition space dedicated to contemporary and innovative sculpture. SculptureCenter re-located from Manhattan's Upper East Side to a former trolley repair shop in Long Island City, Queens renovated by artist/designer Maya Lin in 2002. Founded by artists in 1928, SculptureCenter has undergone much evolution and growth, and continues to expand and challenge the definition of sculpture. SculptureCenter commissions new work and presents exhibits by emerging and established, national and international artists. The museum also hosts a diverse range of public programs including lectures, dialogues, and performances.
  • Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor sculpture park located one block from the Noguchi Museum at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard.[49]
  • The Queens Library maintains two branches in Long Island City, one on the ground floor of the Citicorp Building (the Court Square branch), and one on 21st Street.
  • See.me is web-based arts organization located in Long Island City. The organization is dedicated to supporting artistic talent, harnessing online creative communities, and promoting artists' work.


  • City Ice Pavilion, with 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2) of skating surface, opened in Long Island City in late 2008. The ice skating rink is on the roof of a two-story storage facility.[50]
  • Water Taxi Beach was New York City's first non-swimming urban beach, and was located on the East River in Long Island City. City Hall planned to build 5,000 moderate income apartments in this area, a 30-acre (12 ha) development called Hunter's Point South.[51] The beach later closed and the apartments have been constructed.


Ferry dock

Long Island City is served by the New York City Subway via the elevated BMT Astoria Line (N and ​W trains) at Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue, and the IRT Flushing Line (7 and <7>​ trains) at Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue, Hunters Point Avenue, Court Square, and Queensboro Plaza. It is also served by the underground IND 63rd Street Line (F train) at 21st Street–Queensbridge, the IND Queens Boulevard Line (E, ​M, and ​R trains) at Queens Plaza and Court Square–23rd Street, and IND Crosstown Line (G train) at Court Square and 21st Street.[52] The Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue stations of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) are also located within Long Island City. The US$11.1 billion East Side Access project, which will bring LIRR trains to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2022; this project will create a new train tunnel beneath the East River, connecting Long Island City and Queens with the East Side of Manhattan.[53][54]

During the summer, the New York Water Taxi Company used to operate Water Taxi Beach, a public beach artificially created on a wharf along the East River, accessible at the corner of Second Street and Borden Avenue.[55] It was discontinued in 2011 due to new construction on the site of the old landing.[56]

Cars enter from Brooklyn by the Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn; from Manhattan by the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens–Midtown Tunnel; and from Roosevelt Island by the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Major thoroughfares include 21st Street, which is mostly industrial and commercial; I-495 (Long Island Expressway); the westernmost portion of Northern Boulevard (New York State Route 25A), which becomes Jackson Avenue (the former name of Northern Boulevard) south of Queens Plaza; and Queens Boulevard, which leads westward to the bridge and eastward follows New York State Route 25 through Long Island; and Vernon Boulevard.

In June 2011, NY Waterway started service to points along the East River.[57] On May 1, 2017, that route became part of the NYC Ferry's East River route, which runs between Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan's Financial District and the East 34th Street Ferry Landing in Murray Hill, Manhattan, with five intermediate stops in Brooklyn and Queens.[58][59] One NYC Ferry stop for the East River route is located at Hunters Point South,[60] while another NYC Ferry stop for a route to Astoria is located at Gantry Plaza State Park.[61]


The New York City Department of Education operates a facility in Long Island City housing the Office of School Support Services and several related departments.[62]

PS 17
PS 111
PS 166, the Gradstein School


Long Island City is served by the New York City Department of Education. Long Island City is zoned to:

Additionally, Long Island City is home to:

High schools offering specializations[edit]

Long Island City is home to numerous high schools, some of which offer specializations, as indicated below. These specialized schools are not to be confused with the elite specialized high schools. Rather, these schools offer programs that are included at specialized high schools.

Higher education[edit]

Numerous institutions of higher education have (or have had) a presence in Long Island City.


Long Island City was incorporated and had elected mayors beginning in 1870. Long Island City, and the rest of Queens, were annexed to New York City in 1898.

Name Tenure Party
A.D. Ditmars[7] 1870–1873 Democrat, Republican[a]
Henry S. De Bevoise[64][b] 1873–1874 Democrat
George H. Hunter (acting)[65][66][b] 1873–1874 Democrat
Henry S. De Bevoise[65][66][b] 1874–1875 Democrat
A.D. Ditmars[67][c] 1875 Democrat
John Quinn (acting)[68] 1875–1876 Democrat
Henry S. De Bevoise[69][70] 1876–1883 Democrat
George Petry[71] 1883–1887 Independent Democrat, Republican[72]
Patrick J. Gleason[73] 1887–1897 Democrat[74]
  1. ^ Ditmars' candidacy was endorsed by the Democratic and Republican parties.[7] In 1873, Ditmars unsuccessfully ran for reelection as an Independent Democrat.
  2. ^ a b c Mayor Debevoise was temporarily removed from office following accusations of embezzlement in September 1873.[65] George H. Hunter served as acting mayor until the Board of Aldermen withdrew the articles of impeachment in April 1874.[65][66]
  3. ^ Mayor Ditmars resigned due to financial embarrassments, ill health, and intention to move south.[68]

Notable people[edit]

Seven Major League Baseball players were born in Long Island City, and two have died there:

The NBA's Metta World Peace and filmmaker Julie Dash[75] both grew up in the Queensbridge Houses, as did hip-hop producer Marley Marl, and rappers MC Shan, Mobb Deep, Nas, and Roxanne Shante.

Other notable residents of Long Island City include:



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