Queensbridge Houses

Coordinates: 40°45′18″N 73°56′42″W / 40.755°N 73.945°W / 40.755; -73.945
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Queensbridge Houses
Queensbridge Houses.jpg
Queensbridge, QB
Location within New York City
Coordinates: 40°45′18″N 73°56′42″W / 40.755°N 73.945°W / 40.755; -73.945
Country United States
State New York
CityNew York City
ZIP Code
Area code(s)718, 347, 929, and 917

Queensbridge Houses, also known simply as Queensbridge, is a public housing development in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York City. Owned by the New York City Housing Authority, the development contains 29 buildings and 3,142 units accommodating approximately 7,000 people in two separate complexes (North and South).[1] The complex opened in 1939[2] and is the largest housing project in North America.[3]

Queensbridge is located in Queens Community District 1, and its ZIP Code is 11101.[4]


Queensbridge, the largest of 26 public housing developments in Queens, is located between Vernon Boulevard, which runs along the East River, and 21st Street. It is immediately south of the Ravenswood power plant and just north of the Queensboro Bridge, after which the complex is named. The complex is the largest housing project in North America. The development is separated into two complexes, the North Houses on 40th Avenue and the South Houses on 41st Avenue. The namesake station of the New York City Subway's IND 63rd Street Line (F and <F>​ trains) is on the eastern side of the complex on 21st Street.


Queensbridge (right), Queensbridge Park (left), and Ravenswood Generating Station (background)

The 96-unit, six-story buildings are distinctive due to their shape of two Y's connecting at the base. This shape was used as the architects hoped it would give residents more access to privacy and sunlight than the traditional cross-shape.[5] The design was said to be cost-efficient, and they reduced the cost even further by using elevators that only stopped at the 1st, 3rd, and 5th floors. Political pressure to keep costs down was a key reason for the use of cheap designs. W.F.R. Ballard, Henry S. Churchill, Frederick G. Frost, and Burnett Turner designed Queensbridge.[6]

In many aspects, the buildings of Queensbridge are very similar to most government-built housing projects of the era. They are a worn grayish brown which now suffers noticeable deterioration and weathering. Each building is painted red to about four feet up from the ground, giving a united feel to the entire complex as a uniform red "layer" is always close, throughout the complex. On each of the corners in Queensbridge, the New York City Housing Authority has posted signs indicating the project's name and management: "Queensbridge North (or South) NYCHA." These signs come in several varieties depending on their age. The oldest signs, erected in the early nineties, are simply orange and blue, with the newer signs featuring graphics, like those of many other projects.[6]

Access to buildings in the complex is by key or via an intercom system. The halls of Queensbridge's buildings are comparable to most municipal buildings, and are dilapidated and lined with worn light blue tiles. Apartments are painted white and are fairly small, even by New York City standards. Elevators have been rebuilt and now stop at floors 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and kitchens have been completely renovated and now have frost-free refrigerators. Three thousand bathrooms were renovated with new tubs, toilets, vanities, floor tile and lighting in 2000. This followed a renovation in 1986 when 1,000 of the bathrooms were renovated by Arc Plumbing.[6]


The original plans included some basic amenities, like a central shopping center, a nursery and six inner courtyards for play. In the 1950s, there were also three playschool rooms, a library, a community center with an auditorium where shows were put on, a gymnasium with a wooden floor that doubled as a wooden-wheels roller skating rink, activity rooms downstairs, and a cafeteria upstairs where the playschool children ate their lunches. Some of the downstairs activities included tap dancing, ballet, art, playing the recorder and singing, pool, knock hockey and table tennis, as well as Girl Scout and Boy Scout meetings. Residents enjoyed concerts during the hot summer months in the square central shopping area, and the Fresh Air Fund sent children on trips out to the Peekskill mountains.[6]

The buildings in the complex are divided by a series of paths and small lawns. Also in the complex are several basketball courts and play areas lined with benches. Across Vernon Boulevard lies Queensbridge Park, the primary place of recreation for tenants of the project. There was also a smaller park placed conveniently right under the Queensboro Bridge called "Baby Park". Baby Park was closed due to debris falling from the bridge during maintenance work in the late 2000s. Baby Park was replaced by a new playground for the same age range, between 40th-41st Avenues, within Queensbridge Park itself.[6]

History and crime statistics[edit]

Queensbridge opened in 1939. During the 1950s, the management changed the racial balance of Queensbridge by transferring all families whose income was more than $3,000/year, a majority of whom were White, to middle-income housing projects, and replacing most of these tenants with African-American and Latino families. This policy provided safe and sanitary housing to many low-income African-American and Latino families.[6]

Queensbridge is well known for its contributions to hip hop and rap music, and has been home to some of the most influential musicians in the genre. Marley Marl Williams was the first in a long succession of acclaimed artists from "The Bridge", which came to be one of the most famous hip hop neighborhoods in the country.[7] Its rappers and producers helped to put it on the map. The Juice Crew collective, hugely influential in the 1980s, featured among its members Queensbridge rappers MC Shan, Roxanne Shanté, and Craig G.[7]

While the Boogie Down Productions-MC Shan dispute had already put "The Bridge" on the rap map in the 1980s, the new crop of Queensbridge rappers like Nas and Mobb Deep made frequent references to the Queensbridge Houses that cemented its reputation as a dystopian vision of poverty, drugs, and violence just as New York City's problems with crack cocaine and the unprecedented carnage it had brought to places like Queensbridge reached a peak.[7] Nas' 1994 album Illmatic, often regarded as the greatest hip-hop album of all time, concerns his experiences in Queensbridge.[8] Other notable artists associated with the Queensbridge hip hop scene include Blaq Poet, Cormega, Tragedy Khadafi, Nature, Screwball, Capone, and Big Noyd.[9]

Regarding the Queensbridge music scene, XXL columnist Brendan Frederick wrote:

At a time when you can buy screwed & chopped albums at Circuit City in Brooklyn, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that hip-hop was once a local phenomenon. More than just a voice of the ghetto, hip-hop at its best is the voice of specific blocks, capturing the distinct tone and timbre of an artist’s environment. Since the 1980s, New York City’s Queensbridge Housing Project has been documented perhaps better than any other geographic location. Starting with super producer Marley Marl’s dominant Juice Crew in the ’80s all the way through ’90s mainstays like Nas, Cormega and Capone, the Bridge has produced the highest per-capita talent of any ’hood.[10]

By the 1970s, Queensbridge experienced a rise in crime with the rest of the city. During the height of the crack epidemic in 1986, Queensbridge experienced more murders than any NYCHA complex in New York City.[11] However, in the 2000s, crime went down.[citation needed]

For many years Queensbridge has had a problem with drug dealers and drug users. An 11-month police investigation led to the arrest of 37 people during a drug bust in February 2005. Another raid in February 2009, following a seven-month investigation, resulted in 59 arrests.[12]


As of 2013, Queensbridge had a total population of 6,105. The racial breakdown was 61.4% black, 2.3% white, 1.9% Asian, 1.0% American Indian and 2.4% multiracial. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 30.1%.

In the 2020 news media reports, the Asian population in Queensbridge rose to being 11% of the development's total population and now there are increasing calls for the growing Asian residents in the development to have better local social service access that cater to their linguistic needs including available translators in their languages when contacting NYCHA for apartment related issues.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Development Data Book 2007" (PDF). New York City Housing Authority. 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2022.
  2. ^ Griffin, Allie. "Learn About the History of Queensbridge Houses, New Book Released", LIC Post, October 17, 2019. Accessed February 19, 2021. "Queensbridge Houses has 3,142 apartments and nearly 7,000 residents, making it the largest public housing development in North America. The development opened in 1939 next to the Queensboro Bridge along the East River in what was at the time a largely manufacturing area."
  3. ^ Barry, Dan. "Don't Tell Him the Projects Are Hopeless", The New York Times, March 12, 2005. Accessed February 19, 2021. "UP, up, up it rises, this elevator redolent of urine, groaning toward the rooftop of another tired building in the Queensbridge public housing development, the largest in Queens, in New York, in North America."
  4. ^ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Queens Community District 1. Accessed August 19, 2022. "Queens CB 1 represents the neighborhoods of Astoria, Old Astoria, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ditmars, Ravenswood, Garden Bay and Woodside. From the Queens borough Bridge and Queens Plaza to the Grand Central parkway and LaGuardia Airport approximately 250,000 people (2010 Census figure) choose to make our district their home."
  5. ^ Preiser, Wolfgang F. E.; Varady, David P.; and Russell, Francis P. Future Visions of Urban Public Housing: An International Forum, November 17-20, 1994, p. 249. Routledge, 2017. ISBN 9781315530710. Accessed January 1, 2019. "The Y-shaped buildings in the Queensbridge project in New York caught the sunlight and provided apartments with privacy but were arranged in a disorienting."
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Queensbridge, NYC: Inside America’s Largest Public Housing Project", Untapped Cities, July 1, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c "The Bridge Is Over". Complex. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  8. ^ "Illmatic: The Bridge out and the Window into Queensbridge – Fourteen East". Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  9. ^ Phanor-Faury, Alexandra. "The Water and the Flow: Tales of Queensbridge (Part One)". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  10. ^ Frederick, Brendan (April 13, 2006). "Mobb Deep's Queensbridge Classics". XXL Magazine. Harris Publications, Inc. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Hallum, Mark. "Queensbridge murder ends peaceful streak in LIC public housing complex", QNS.com, May 18, 2017. Accessed July 25, 2022. "1986 alone, the public housing development, which spans six blocks north of the Queensborough Bridge, had more murders than any NYCHA complex in the city. To this day, it is one of 15 developments accounting for up to 20 percent of violent crime in public housing, according to crime statistics."
  12. ^ Lee, Trymaine (February 5, 2009). "59 Arrested After Drug Investigation in Queens". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  13. ^ Hong, Nicole (October 18, 2021). "Inside the N.Y.C. Neighborhood with the Fastest Growing Asian Population". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "Asian Tenants Union calls for fully funded NYCHA". The Queens Ledger. Archived from the original on January 23, 2020.
  15. ^ "Asian-language speaking tenants in Queensbridge organize to advocate for greater language access for public housing tenants across New York City" (PDF). CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  16. ^ "Exclusive: Asian immigrant NYCHA tenants struggle to get translation aid for basic repair requests". New York Daily News.
  17. ^ "NYC Council has 5 new Asian Americans, a record that mirrors city more accurately". NBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  18. ^ "Map: Race and ethnicity across the US". www.cnn.com. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  19. ^ 2020 Census Results For New York City; Key Population & Housing Characteristics, New York City, August 2021. Accessed August 19, 2022.
  20. ^ "Blaq Poet - Tha Blaqprint", HipHopDX, July 9, 2009. Accessed November 29, 2017. "When commercial artists weren’t busy riding the South’s finger snapping, Auto-Tune crooning coat tails, tight pants-wearing hipsters began to slowly take over sections of Brooklyn with their Diplo beats and overly ironic sensibilities. While the rest of the city seemingly sinks further and further into a musically mire, Queensbridge emcee Blaq Poet stands strong with his debut LP Tha Blaqprint, after over two screw-faced decades with Screwball, fighting hard in the trenches for Queens recognition and a king’s respect."
  21. ^ Golianopoulos, Thomas. "The Bridge Is OverThe Queensbridge Houses were once at the center of the rap universe. What happened to hip-hop's most storied housing project?", Complex.com, November 25, 2014. Accessed November 29, 2017. "'Each block in Queensbridge has its own mentality, its own movement. '— Capone.... Though Noreaga is from Lefrak City, Queens, his work with Queensbridge native Capone made him synonymous with QB."
  22. ^ Nosnitsky, Andrew. "Cormega Looks Back at Queensbridge, Jail and His Return", MTV.com, September 29, 2011. Accessed November 29, 2017. "When I moved to Queensbridge that's when I knew that I knew how to rap, because my cousin had me rapping around people that was good and I stood out. So from there I started taking it real seriously."
  23. ^ Buckley, Cara. "Julie Dash Made a Movie. Then Hollywood Shut Her Out.", The New York Times, November 18, 2016. Accessed January 1, 2019. "Raised in the Queensbridge Housing Project in Long Island City, Queens, Ms. Dash earned a degree in film production at City College and went on to be a fellow at the American Film Institute before beginning a master’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, film school in the ’70s."
  24. ^ Katz, Michael and Raftery, Tom. "Ex-Boxing Champion Nabbed In Fatal DWI", New York Daily News, April 8, 1999. Accessed January 1, 2019. "Del Valle, who grew up in Queensbridge projects so tough his mother sent him to live with relatives in the Bronx, developed into a solid boxer."
  25. ^ a b c DeSimone, Bonnie. "Rookie Puts Family, Friends 1st", Chicago Tribune, October 11, 1999. Accessed July 11, 2019. "'Everybody from Queensbridge who makes it, it's really in your blood to represent it well,' Artest said.... Queensbridge kids always have played a lot of hoops. Besides Ray Martin, former Indiana Pacer Vern Fleming grew up there, as did LIU Athletic Director Andy Walker, who played for the New Orleans (now Utah) Jazz."
  26. ^ Grow, Kory. "Rolling Stones Backup Singer Bernard Fowler on the Poetry of Mick Jagger; Fowler explains how the Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron and a thumbs-up from Mick inspired Inside Out, his new album of spoken-word Stones interpretations", Rolling Stone, April 25, 2019. Accessed July 11, 2019. "When I was growing up in Queensbridge, there was a serious heroin epidemic. We had more dope in Queensbridge than there was in Harlem."
  27. ^ Caputo, Matt. "Quiet Storm", Slam, December 19, 2008. Accessed April 7, 2021. "Sean Green (not Shawn Green) was born in Cali, but grew up in Queens, N.Y.’s notorious Queensbridge neighborhood (most famous for producing hip-hop icons like MC Shan, Nas and Mobb Deep) and left his mark as one of the hood’s best basketball players."
  28. ^ Evelly, Jeanmarie. "Prodigy Mural Goes Up in Queensbridge in Tribute to Late Mobb Deep Star" Archived December 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, DNAinfo.com, July 6, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2017. "Prodigy, whose real name was Albert Johnson, joined forces with fellow rapper Havoc in the 1990s to form the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep. Originally from Long Island and LeFrak City, Prodigy met Queensbridge Houses native Havoc while in high school, and the pair spent much of their time at the sprawling housing complex for which they became best associated, according to XXL Magazine."
  29. ^ Pablo, J. "Q&A: Tragedy Khadafi On Growing Up In Queensbridge, How Jail Has Changed, And Reaching The Kids In The Projects", The Village Voice, October 7, 2011. Accessed July 25, 2022. "Unfortunately, Tragedy grew up hard with a heroin-addicted mother in America’s largest housing project, the notorious Queensbridge."
  30. ^ "QB’s Infamous Mobb Is back with 2 New Singles – 'Like a Dream/Queens Get the Money'", Respect, May 14, 2020. Accessed July 25, 2022. "It’s been 13 long years since Queensbridge’s Infamous Mobb dropped their Reality Rap LP, but the acclaimed trio is back with a pair of new projects set to drop soon."
  31. ^ DJ Marley Marl, WBLS. Accessed April 7, 2021. "Marl was born Marlon Williams on September 30, and grew up in the Queensbridge housing project in Queens, NY."
  32. ^ Ettleson, Robbie. "Interview: MC Shan Talks Juice Crew Legends, Little Known Beefs, and His Fallout With Marley Marl", Complex.com, January 12, 2013. Accessed November 29, 2017. "MC Shan was an original member of the Juice Crew All-Stars, perhaps the greatest collection of MCs ever to claim membership to the same crew, at the same time. His Queensbridge anthem, 'The Bridge' claimed the No. 1 spot on Complex’s list of the greatest Queensbridge rap songs (and No. 16 on our list of the greatest hip-hop beats), and served as the unwitting catalyst in the Bridge Wars, following Boogie Down Production's humiliation at the hands of Juice Crew founder Mr. Magic."
  33. ^ "Project about a Project", The Brian Lehrer Show, February 24, 2006. Accessed April 7, 2021. "Selena Blake, Executive Director of Queensbridge: The Other Side, - on her documentary about the country’s largest public housing project and Mel Johnson, actor and former resident of Queensbridge and Elizabeth Ray, retired school teacher and current resident of Queensbridge"
  34. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G.; Watkins, Ali; Southall, Ashley (December 15, 2021). "Keechant Sewell to Lead N.Y.P.D. as Its First Female Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  35. ^ Fretts, Bruce. "Roxanne Finally Gets Her Revenge, 3 Decades After Her Hit Single", The New York Times, March 20, 2018. Accessed April 7, 2021. "In 1984, prompted by UTFO’s "Roxanne, Roxanne," about a woman who had spurned that rap trio’s romantic entreaties, Ms. Shante, then 14 and living in the Queensbridge projects in Long Island City, changed her first name from Lolita to Roxanne and released an answer record with lyrics like 'If he worked for me, you know he would be fired' and 'He ain’t really cute, and he ain’t great/He don’t even know how to operate.'"


  • "Queensbridge, New York, N.Y.," Architectural Forum 72 (Jan. 1940), pp. 13–15.
  • Samantha Henry, "A Good Rap: Residents of the Queensbridge Houses Make Their Claim To Fame," Newsday, August 5, 2001.
  • New York City Housing Authority Factsheet, April 19, 2004. New York City Housing Authority.
  • Gail Radford, "The Federal Government and Housing During the Great Depression" in John F. Bauman, ed., From Tenements to the *Taylor Homes: In Search of an Urban Housing Policy in Twentieth Century America (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), pp. 102–120.
  • Henry S. Churchill. The City is the People. New York. Norton. 1945

External links[edit]