Long Island City. A barren land where tumbleweeds roam the wide streets, and the first five minutes of Law & Order feel like they could happen at any moment. Bah bum! “Well, we were just walking through this abandoned lot minding our own business when we saw….”
Every few years for the past 15 years, someone predicts that this year is the year it will become the next big place to live. Pro: It’s as close as can be to Manhattan, with easy access to a smorgasbord of useful trains. Being in Queens, rent prices are solidly on the lower end of the spectrum. Con: Long Island City is hemmed in by a laundry list of geographical factors – the East River, the Gowanus Canal, a rabid rash of railroad tracks, and the Queensboro / 59th Street Bridge. A virtual island. If a developer’s number one selling point for the neighborhood is that it is a quick trip into Manhattan…well, I think we have a bit of a problem. You can’t build a neighborhood out of people who are just here to sleep.
That isn’t to say there isn’t some serious effort being put forth. We were there on a gorgeous winter day, and took a look at Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City’s waterfront park answer to Hudson River Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Complete with some snazzy wooden chairs and benches, a large and colorful kid’s park, and some elevated pathways, Gantry Plaza is the site of a former Pepsi bottling plant, and some cool relics from when the railroads used to rule the world. With a killer view of the water and yes, the island of Manhattan, the park is a solid notch in the plus column. Welcome to Long Island City’s front porch.
Up next – some delicious things to eat in the neighborhood, growing scrappily along the streets like weeds in a sidewalk crack. Also, a general question. Umm, so if you want people to live here, why isn’t there a good supermarket? Talk amongst yourselves.