Polymorphous Jackson Heights bears the marks of tidal forces. With its innovative apartment houses with interior green spaces, the neighborhood originally distinguished itself in the early 20th century as the country’s first “garden community.” Since then, successive waves of immigration representing practically every country of the sub-continent and Central and South America have left their imprints. The Bollywood movie theater known as The Eagle (73-07 37th Road, 718-205-2800) is a local fixture, showing the latest Indian films with English subtitles. Roosevelt Avenue passes through Little Colombia, where street vendors sell Colombian tacos or fruit with sugary condensed milk. According to Rudy Greco, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, increasing rents are the result of another shift in the neighborhood: more young people are moving in. “We’re in the middle of a generational turnover,” he says, referring to the residents in their twenties and thirties who are replacing the elderly.
Boundaries: Northern Boulevard to the north, Junction Boulevard to the east, Roosevelt Avenue to the south, and 69th Street to the west.
Transportation: The 7, E, F, G, R, and V trains all stop in the neighborhood. It takes about 25 minutes to get to midtown.
Average Price to Rent: Availability is still tight but has been improving recently. Studios generally rent at $850 a month. One-bedroom apartments range between $1,000 and $1,200; two-bedrooms, between $1,300 and $1,500; three-bedrooms, between $1,600 and $1,900. Four-bedroom apartments and duplexes, very rare, can rent for as much as $2,200. “Very congested and very little parking and a lot of traffic always,” says Mañuel Vargas, a broker at Pan/American Realty (33-19 Junction Boulevard; 718-406-8615).
Average Price to Buy: A co-op studio will cost around $70,000. One-bedroom co-op apartments fall between $120,000 and $175,000; two-bedrooms: $160,000 to $200,000. One-family houses start at $450,000; two families: $650,000 to $800,000; three-family houses: $600,000 to $850,000; four families: $750,000 to $950,000.
Landmarks: The Jackson Heights Landmark Historic District covers a 36-block area, including most of the neighborhood from 76th to 88th Streets and Roosevelt Avenue to Northern Boulevard. Only the second land-marked area in Queens, the district was the first planned community in the country, premised on an innovative plan for five- and six-story apartment houses that share landscaped gardens, some designed by Central Park’s Olmstead brothers. “This is not like Manhattan or Brooklyn, where brownstones are wall to wall,” says Greco. “Here buildings take up 35 or 40 percent of the footprint,” leaving the rest for green things.
Shops: The Indian grocery store Patel Brothers (37-27 74th Street, 718-898-3445) is filled with imported fruits, vegetables, and other enticing products, and also has an online store (patelbrothersusa.com). Same goes for the Butala Emporium (37-46 75th Street, 718-899-5590, indousplaza.com), which sells reading material (books, magazines, newspapers, Indian and UK), herbal products, statuettes, music, and musical instruments. Seventy-fourth Street has a strip of jewelry and sari shops, such as the Astha Saree Palace (37-52 74th Street, 718-476-8888), where saris start at $35 and can cost as much as $325.
Green Space: With much of the neighborhood’s green space in private areas, Jackson Heights doesn’t have many parks, though a bike path along 80th and 81st Streets links Jackson Heights with Flushing Meadow Corona Park and Forrest Park in Kew Gardens. The renovated Travers Park at 34th Avenue and 77th Street has a playground and a blacktop with a baseball diamond and basketball and handball courts.
Famous Residents: Before moving to New Jersey with her family, actress Susan Sarandon was born in Jackson Heights, as was the late former governor of Pennsylvania Robert Casey. Emiliano Perez, president of Playa Realty (75-12 Roosevelt Avenue, 718-335-3711) vaguely recalls hearing that boxer “Rocky Marciano used to live here,” as did Mayor John Lindsay’s mother, he says.
Best Restaurants: There are many to chose from, but any sampling would have to include the famous Jackson Diner (37-47 74th Street, 718-672-1232), where the menu claims to have received Zagat recognition six years in a row and which serves north and south Indian food with a broad selection of vegetarian dishes. Cash only. The Voice‘s Robert Sietsema prefers the Bombay Hut (72-32 Broadway, 718-898-5500) for its samosas, chutneys, and chicken xacuti. La Cabaña (86-07 Northern Boulevard, 718-426-5977) is an Argentine steakhouse whose menu features the 28-ounce “bife size” steak, among many other churrascos and empanadas.
Best Bars: Riazor Blues (89-05 Northern Boulveard, 718-424-8464) is a Tapas Bar for Deportivo La Coruña supporters that shows La Liga and UEFA Cup matches on a big screen. You can dance for free and shoot pool on Fridays and Saturday’s at the sports bar Café España (81-03 Roosevelt Ave, 718-505-5666:“para disfrutar en tus horas de descanso”). Every Monday night at 12:30 a.m. is “Gay Midnight” at Friend’s Tavern, but it’s “wall-to-wall men every day,” according to bar-tender José. “Sometimes we have some women but it’s very rare,” he says. A block away is another gay-friendly bar, Atlantis (78-11 Roosevelt Avenue, 718-457-3939), which hosts go-go contests on Tuesdays and a “gong show” on Sundays.
Annual Events: The Jackson Heights Beautification Group organizes a lively Halloween parade. The Queens Lesbian and Gay Committee holds an annual Gay Pride parade that starts in Jackson Heights. There are also parades held on behalf of various Latin American communities every year.
Politicians: Councilwoman Helen Sears, Assemblymen Ivan Lafayette and José Peralta, State Senator John Sabini and Congressman Joseph Crowley, all Democrats.
Crime Stats: The 115th precinct serves Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, North Corona and La Guardia Airport. As of November 30, it reported six murders, down one from 2002; 39 rapes, up six; 401 robberies, down 63; 252 felonious assaults, down 27; and 503 burglaries, up four.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2004