Elmhurst is the simmering melting pot writ large; one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the most diverse county in the most diverse country in the world. More than almost any other section of New York, Elmhurst is where the American idea is truest; people move here from every corner of the globe, live and die, marry and give birth and move away, making more room for those yet to come in an ever-changing array of ethnicity. As a testament to the neighborhood's multilingual multitudes, the Elmhurst branch of the Queens Public Library offers services in Urdu, Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Spanish and English. Not for nothing did Prince Akeem of Zamunda look for love at the Queens Boulevard McDowell's. It's a Wendy's now, but no matterresourceful immigrants can still find the queens of their dreams there. Fittingly, Elmhurst was born as a refuge for immigrants; English settlers moved there in 1652 from a Maspeth colony that was threatened by Native Americans. Named Middleburgh by force of its Dutch administrators (the area was still known as New Netherlandthe British would later rename it Newtown), it has long existed as a market and trade hub. That fact has remained through the centuries, as the artery that is Queens Boulevard has grown to accommodate the borough's quickly expanding population and shopping needs. The intersection of Queens Boulevard and Broadway remains one of the busiest intersections in the borough, and a walk north or east from there highlights wide swaths of commerce and history, of which only a small bit is readily visible. "If you like lots of different cultures and interesting shops, Elmhurst is a great place," says State Senator John Sabini, whose district encompasses part of the 11373 zip code. "If you're looking for a... More >>>
By photo: Russell Heller
Elmhurst's oldest building, the St. James Episcopal Church.