Close-Up On: Long Island City


Now that MOMA is shuffling her pearled neck and painted fanny across the Queensboro Bridge into Long Island City, artworld denizens who wouldn’t dream of leaving Manhattan just might. MOMA is hopping on the boat built by P.S.1, the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, and the Socrates Sculpture Garden, which have made Long Island City arguably the most concentrated arts center outside of Manhattan. The industrial neighborhood along the East River, which includes all or parts of Dutch Kills, Hunter’s Point, Astoria, Sunnyside, and Steinway, was one of four original municipalities within New York City’s present boundaries. Once heavily German, the area has seen an influx of Korean, Indian, and Latin American residents in the past few decades. A spate of development beginning in 1989 with the Citicorp Building—the city’s largest non-Manhattan structure—has attracted businesses and renters seeking a presence close to midtown.

Boundaries: East River to the north and west; 49th Street and New Calvary Cemetery to the east; Newtown Creek to the south

Transportation: 10 to 15 minutes from 42nd Street; take the 7 train to Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue, Hunter’s Point Avenue, or 45th Road-Court House Square; or the E and V to 23rd Street (Ely Avenue) and Queens Plaza.

Main Drag: Vernon Boulevard

Median Price to Rent: Studio, $750 to $900; one-bedroom, $950 to $1200; two-bedroom, $1350 to $1500; three-bedroom, $1550 to $1800

Median Price to Buy: One-bedroom co-op, $90,000 to $129,000; one-family house, $250,000 to $450,000

Landmarks: Hunter’s Point Historic District, a block of 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd streets, is a residential enclave. Silvercup Studios (42-22 22nd Street), once the Silvercup bakery, has been the site for production of Do the Right Thing and The Sopranos. At Kaufman Astoria Studios (34-12 36th Street), early-day films featuring W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers were made. And the luminous Pepsi-Cola sign has lit up the Hunter’s Point waterfront since the early ’30s.

Community Organizations: The Long Island City Business Development Corporation is pursuing an empowerment district, building on the momentum of MetLife’s move to Queens Plaza last November and the Citicorp Building at Court Square. The Queens West Development Corporation has a $2.3 billion plan to bring in luxury apartment living. Material for the Arts gives out supplies to nonprofits and public schools. The Hunter’s Point Community Coalition focuses on environmental issues.

Cultural Institutions: The Museum of Modern Art relocated to the blushing blue structure at 33rd Street and Queens Boulevard for three years on June 29. Since 1971, P.S.1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue) has become a fixture in the New York arts scene. Sculptor Mark Di Suvero was one of the founders of Socrates Sculpture Park on a riverfront dump at 3201 Vernon Boulevard in 1986. The Museum for African Art is ditching Soho for 43rd Avenue, just as the Sculpture Center left East 69th Street for 44-19 Purves Street. The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum has moved from its East River home to 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside.

Green Space: Gantry Plaza State Park on 49th Street utilizes the industrial landscape, with four platforms jutting into the East River. Rainey Park lies along the river on Vernon Boulevard.

Famous Residents: Nasty Nas, MC Marley Marl, and his cousin MC Shan came from Queensbridge, the nation’s largest public housing complex. Public-works artist Isamu Noguchi lived and worked in Long Island City in the ’60s. Local sculptor Mark Di Suvero is internationally known.

Notable Event: P.S.1’s summer “Warm Up” parties run 3 to 9 p.m. Saturdays from July 6 through August 31.

Best Restaurant: 5 Stars Punjabi (13-15 43rd Avenue) is John Waters meets Bollywood.

Best Bar: McReilly’s Public (4642 Vernon) mixes firemen and arties.

Politicians: Councilman Eric Gioia, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, State Senator George Onorato, and Congressman Joseph Crowley, all Democrats

Crime Stats: The 108th and the 114th precincts both cover Long Island City. As of June 23, they reported a combined total of 5 homicides, the same as at this time last year; 20 rapes, compared to 21 last year; 413 robberies, compared to 414 last year; 701 burglaries, compared to 680 last year; and 247 felony assaults, compared to 270 last year. Sections of Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Sunnyside are included in the precincts’ jurisdiction.