Close-Up On: Jackson Heights


Over the past 25 years, Jackson Heights, a middle-class community in northern Queens, has become one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York. It is home to approximately 100,000 people, including immigrant groups from all over the world. Its variety is exemplified by the fine subcontinental cuisine available north of Roosevelt Avenue—an area also known as “Little India”—and by some of the city’s most authentic Latin American restaurants, especially Colombian, the largest Latino community in the neighborhood. Jackson Heights was the brainchild of entrepreneur Edward MacDougal, who in 1908 bought land in the area to capitalize on the opening of the Queensboro Bridge. Inspired by the garden city model of British planner Ebenezer Howard, MacDougal built one- and two-family houses and the first co-op in 1920. Today, these co-ops are noted for having some of the most beautiful interior gardens in the city. A large section of Jackson Heights was named a landmarked historic district in 1993.

Boundaries: Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the west, Grand Central Expressway to the north, Junction Boulevard to the east, and Roosevelt Avenue to the south

Mass Transit: 20 minutes to midtown Manhattan on the 7 train from the 74th Street-Broadway stop. Or take the E, F, G, or R train from Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue.

Average Price to Rent: Studio, $725 to $925; one-bedroom, $825 to $1250; two-bedroom, $1200 to $1500

Average Price to Buy: One-bedroom co-op, $65,000 to $100,000; two-bedroom, $95,000 to $140,000; one-bedroom condo, $110,000 to $150,000; two-bedroom, $140,000 to $195,000; one-family house, $300,000 to $400,000

Landmarks: The Washington Plaza Park and Fountains complex has what is believed to be the largest succession of cascading pools within a residential building in New York City, as well as a beautifully tended garden, which gives one the sensation of walking through a lush green valley. La Mesa Verde, designed by Henry Attenbry Smith in 1927, is made up of six six-story brick buildings with open stairs, a skylit elevator core, V-shaped front courtyards, interconnected roofs, and private interior green spaces. Walking past Homestead Heath Homes, with its Old English-style dwellings—exposed timbers, winding flagstone walks, green lawns, peaked roofs, brick-and-stone facades, and rock terraces—is like walking in a London suburb.

Cultural Institutions: The Local Art Collaborative Exchange sponsors performances by poets, writers, and Latin-born folk musicians, and holds workshops that help artists promote their work. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group, which led the campaign to win designation as a historic district, has organized anti-crime, anti-graffiti, and anti-litter efforts. It also fights illegal apartment conversions, oversees parks improvement and community garden groups, and runs one of the city’s largest Halloween parades. St. Mark’s Church, 33-50 82nd Street, offers a continuing series of chamber music and vocal performances.

Famous Residents: Key members of the big swing bands that dominated the music scene in the ’30s and early ’40s—including Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, and Glenn Miller—lived in Jackson Heights. As a young student, Columbia professor and renowned social critic Edward Said lived in the neighborhood.

Notable Events: Jackson Heights hosts the second-largest gay pride parade in the city, usually during June. Numerous parades and festivals are sponsored by groups from China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, India, Korea, Pakistan, and Peru.

Best Bar: Caffé Greco, 79-08 37th Avenue, has live music, poetry readings, book discussions, art exhibits, and one of the best coffees in town.

Best Restaurants: Jackson Diner, 37-47 74th Street, and Delhi Palace, 37-33 74th Street (both Indian), and La Nueva Bakery, 86-10 37th Avenue (South American)

Local Politicians: Councilwoman Helen Sears, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Assemblyman Ivan C. Lafayette, and state senators George Onorato and Toby Ann Stavisky, all Democrats

Crime Stats: In addition to Jackson Heights, the 115th Precinct covers north Corona and east Elmhurst. As of May 26, the 115th listed one homicide (the same as this time last year); 14 rapes (two less than in 2001); 176 robberies (seven less than last year); 132 felony assaults (19 more than last year); and 187 burglaries, compared to 168 last year.

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