Portions of this article have been updated.
Flushing’s name originates with the Dutch in the early 1600s, when they sailed a meandering river and called it and the adjacent town Vlissingen, meaning “flowing water,” after a port back home in Holland. But the English soon arrived, got comfortable, and translated it to “Flushing,” burdening the area with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Industrial waste soon found a new home in the once recreational river, turning it into a foul waterway, immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. Today, the scent of the river remains, but Flushing is no longer “the valley of ashes” that Fitzgerald described. The former cultural void brims with residents from over 30 countries. An afternoon’s stroll will expose you to cultures of Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Heralded as the birthplace of religious freedom, Flushing teems with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians.
Boundaries: Bayside Avenue to the north; Clearview Expressway to the east; Union Turnpike to the south; Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the west
Main Drag: Main Street in Flushing is a bustling multicultural thoroughfare of banks, restaurants, and shops, and features the formidable Hong Kong Plaza (37-11 Main Street), home of the Tai Pan Bakery and the Hong Kong Supermarket.
Population: over 80,000
Ethnic Makeup: 55 percent Asian, 24 percent Latino, 14 percent white, 6 percent African American, 1 percent other
Mass Transit: 7 train to Main Street (45 minutes from Grand Central)
Average Rent: Studio, $750 to $950 ($650 to $850); one-bedroom, $900 to $1300; two-bedroom, $1300 and up ($1100 to $1800)
Average Price to Buy: $500,000 for a one family house; $600,000 for a two family house. ($300,000 for a small house)
Cultural Institutions: Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Boulevard) hosts monthly art exhibits, jazz concerts, operas, and other theater events. It also conducts a “Queens Jazz Trail” tour that stops at the former homes of jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. At the 39-acre Queens Botanical Garden, you can bask in six acres of roses or take a romantic stroll among lotus blossoms.
Landmarks: Bowne House (37-01 Bowne Street), built in 1661, is a monument to religious freedom in America and a national historic landmark. John Bowne allowed the newly arrived Quakers to worship at his home after Peter Stuyvesant placed a colony-wide ban on all denominations other than the Dutch Reformed Church. The Quaker Meeting House (137-16 Northern Boulevard), New York City’s oldest house of worship, has been used continuously since 1694. Kingsland House (143-35 37th Avenue), another Quaker meeting place and site of the landmark Weeping Beech tree (planted in 1847), houses the Queens Historical Society.
Places to Sport: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park offers numerous ways to get your game on, including the United States Tennis Association, home of the U.S. Open, with indoor and outdoor courts available at reasonable rates. There’s also Shea Stadium, home of the Amazin’ (albeit-not-so-much-at-this-moment) Metropolitans; Pitch-and-Putt golf; softball parks; and plenty of grass for volleyball, soccer, and football.
Notable Events: The annual New Year Lunar Festival Parade parallels similar events in China, Taiwan, and Korea. Cheering crowds line the streets of the parade route, through Flushing’s Chinatown and Koreatown.
Famous Residents: Fran Drescher, formerly of The Nanny. Paul Simon spent his formative years in Flushing and attended P.S. 164.
Best Restaurants: Asian food is everywhere. Visit the original Penang at 38-04 Prince Street for Malaysian fare. Look for the huge red bowl with chopsticks atop a building and you’ll find Chao Zhou (40-52 Main Street). The barbecued pork chops and Chinese broccoli can’t be beat. Try Kum Gang San (138-28 Northern Boulevard) for Korean-style barbecue and soon doo boo chigae, a sizzling stew of melt-in-your-mouth tofu in a red broth.
Best Bar: Hollywood and Main (57-33 Main Street), a neighborhood sports bar gathering locals—young, old and in-between, serves all the usuals for reasonable prices.
Local Politicians: Councilman John Liu, State Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, Congressmen Joseph Crowley and Gary Ackerman—all Democrats
Crime Stats: As of November 22, 2005 there have been 3 murders, 24 rapes, 189 robberies, 432 felony assaults, and 972 burglaries. The 109th Precinct serves Downtown Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst, and Bay Terrace. (As of September 22, they reported 3 murders, compared to 4 last year; 9 rapes, down from 15; 250 robberies, down from 282; 239 felonious assaults, up from 217; and 756 burglaries, up from 669.)