Just hop off at the last stop on the No. 7 train and you’re smack in the middle of Flushing’s Main Street district. A mass of Chinese and English characters splattered on local and chain businesses, a mingling of languages, and intriguing culinary options welcome you to the second-largest Chinatown in the New York City area.
No longer a fringe destination, Flushing has truly become a destination known for its mix of more than 30-plus cultures and ethnicities. But the drastic growth has generated friction between old and new residents as preservationists attempt to have the Broadway-Flushing area, north of the main drag, granted landmark status.
Definitely not Main Street, U.S.A
photo: Marisa Torrieri
Population: Varies depending on source and definition of Flushing’s boundaries. The New York City Department of Planning Census Tract puts the population at 140,000, other sources at 200,000-plus.
Mass Transit: No. 7 train to Main Street (30-35 minutes), LIRR from Main Street to Midtown (30 minutes); also bus QM2 runs express to midtown.
Average Price to Rent: Typical one-bedroom apartments go for $1,100 (private home) to $1,200 (bldg.); two-bedroom apartments go for $1,400-$1,500 (bldg); three-bedroom apartments go for $1,600-$1,700 (bldg).
Average Price to Buy: One-family homes go for $530,000-$760,000. Two-family homes go for $850,000 to $1 million.
Cultural Institutions: Don’t let the name Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Boulevard) fool you—the theater hosts art exhibits, operas, musical events, and even a “Queens Jazz Trail,” for which you’ll board a trolley and stroll through neighborhoods where Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane lived. The Queens Public Library, at the intersection of Kissena Boulevard and Main Street, is one of the largest U.S. libraries and hosts numerous public events.
Landmarks: Established in 1968, The Queens Historical Society (143-35 37th Avenue) runs various educational programs out of the historic Kingsland Homestead. Beauty and nature rule in Kissena Park (on Oak and Rose avenues), with its lake, tennis courts, and walking paths. Equally breathtaking is Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street), on 39 acres in the heart of Queens. Also don’t forget Flushing Cemetery (163-06 46th Avenue) where Armstrong and Gillespie are buried.
Get Your Sport On: Created as the site of the World’s Fair in 1939, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is NYC’s third-largest park. It’s an ideal place for soccer and softball. You can also rent a boat on the Meadow and Willow lakes. Also within the park lies the USTA National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open in August and September. Hit Shea Stadium, right off the No. 7 train, for New York Mets games.
Famous Residents: The Nanny actress Fran Dreschner, singer Paul Simon, porn star Ron Jeremy, and film director Martin Scorsese, are just a few of the big names who have called Flushing home.
Best Restaurants: Warm up with a heaping plate of tender, peppered beef with scallions ($7.99) at King 5 Noodle House (39-07 Prince Street). Next door at Sentosa (39-07 Prince Street), you’ll find authentic Malaysian cuisine. Start with roti canai, a crispy pancake with curry chicken and potato sauce ($3), before diving into lemon grass squid ($9) or sautéed sambal shrimp ($12). You could always opt for more exotic fare at the sparsely decorated Lu’s Seafood, which features “intestine and sour mustard soup” ($5.25) and “Taiwanese pork feet” ($5.95).
Overwhelmed? Duck into one of the many bubble tea houses in downtown Flushing. These ice-cold teas come with gummy tapioca balls you can slurp through big straws. At Sago, on Main Street, teenagers, college types, and moms with kids chat away while sipping the pastel-colored drinks (sample price: $3.55). For a quieter setting, try the sleek Sunway Restaurant, by the downtown Sheraton. Taipan Bakery (37-25 Main Street) offers perfectly molded sweets to go with your tea. And at Tea Ren’s Tea, you can get Taiwanese slushies and browse an absurdly large selection of ginseng.
Bars: A number of fun pubs, karaoke joints, and sports bars thrive a short walk or bus ride from Main Street. Want a good ol’ Irish pub? Take the No. 13 bus to Paddy Quinn’s, (4207 162nd Street), a standard beer tavern open until 1 a.m. Cheesy music and sofas straight out of the disco era mark the Prince Street dive Love Café (38-14 Prince Street). Hollywood and Main (5733 Main Street) comes with good vibes and libations. Millard Fillmore Tavern (16602 65th Avenue) is known for its cocktails, as well as its Sunday brunch.
Local Politicians: City Councilmember John Liu, State Senator Toby Stavisky, Congress member Gary Ackerman, and Assembly members Brian McLaughlin and Nettie Mayersohn—all Democrats.
Crime Stats: As of August 6, 2006, the 109th precinct reported three murders, 13 rapes, 151 robberies, 116 felonious assaults, 256 burglaries, and 605 grand larceneries. The precinct serves downtown Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst, and Bay Terrace.