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Queens' Neighborhoods: Close to Manhattan

Living in Western Queens: Astoria, Long Island City, and Jackson Heights

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Long Island City

Apartment Building in Hunters Point, Long Island City

Photo (c) John Roleke
Three of the most popular neighborhoods in western Queens for those commuting to Manhattan are Astoria, Long Island City (LIC), and Jackson Heights. They are all a short subway ride to Midtown. Astoria and LIC are just across the East River from Midtown and the Upper East Side.

As people are priced out of Manhattan, western Queens has gained in popularity, especially for folks in their 20s and 30s. To find an apartment, a real estate broker is usually the easiest route to go, but expect to pay one month's rent in fees. Or check the local newspapers for no-fee listings. Also, small landlords often post for-rent signs in windows and in laundromats and cafes.

Astoria

Astoria has become the hottest, most popular neighborhood in Queens. It's very close to Manhattan via the N, W, R, and V subways (10 to 20 minutes to Midtown). It has a real neighborhood vibe with many great places to eat and shop and there's even nightlife. Immigrants from around the world have brought to Astoria the most eclectic mix of restaurants anywhere in Queens. On any corner it's possible to see four restaurants, each representing a cuisine from a different continent. One drawback to Astoria is its congested streets. Take public transportation to avoid insanity.

Hipsters and yuppies have discovered Astoria, which has contributed to rising rental and housing prices. It is still possible to find a great apartment (with roof or backyard access) that's a true savings from life in Manhattan. Closer to Long Island City, the streets are more industrial, the housing is grittier, and rents drop. Avoid living on 31st Street with the elevated subway. North of Astoria Boulevard, housing tends to be in more expensive row houses, with fewer rentals.

Long Island City

Less gentrified than Astoria, Long Island City is betwixt and between its industrial past and its gentrified future. Home to Queens' only skyscraper and a number of great art and cultural venues (such as P.S. 1, the borough's preeminent art space), LIC also has bleak industrial areas, some ugly housing, and minimal (though increasing) nightlife and dining options. Many artists call LIC home (often migrating from pricey Brooklyn). LIC's great location has the attention of city and business leaders with big plans for developing the waterfront. Queens West has already built two residential towers and has plans for many more.

LIC cannot be beat for commuting to Manhattan. It's the shortest commute from Queens. Take the 7, E, F, N, R, V, or W to Midtown (or the slow G south to Brooklyn). The Midtown Tunnel also connects LIC to Manhattan.

It's best to avoid walking at night through LIC's industrial and warehouse areas. There just aren't enough people in the streets to provide that safety in numbers feeling that emboldens New Yorkers.
  • Neighborhoods: Long Island City In-Depth
  • Neighborhood Profile: Hunters Point in Long Island City
  • More:
    • Hunters Point Photos
    • Rental prices: One bedrooms start at $900 or lower, but be sure to visit the neighborhood at night. In prime areas or renovated buildings, prices are often above $1,200 for a one bedroom.
    • Luxury buildings on the waterfront command Manhattan views and Manhattan prices.

Jackson Heights

Although Jackson Heights is farther east than other neighborhoods in western Queens (such as Woodside and Sunnyside), it's an easier commute to Manhattan because the E and F subways run express, stopping only twice before reaching Lexington Avenue. It's less than 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. Similar to Astoria, there are great dining and shopping options in the neighborhood. Although Roosevelt Avenue is thoroughly congested and loud, the residential streets are quiet.

Jackson Heights is known for its Little India section at 74th Street, north of Roosevelt. But the whole neighborhood is much bigger and more diverse. Immigrants from Latin America and South Asia predominate. It's also the center of the Latino gay community in Queens.

Housing near transportation tends to be in large apartment buildings. Many are advertised as pre-war, which should mean the apartments are larger and better insulated (less noise) than in newer buildings. Other streets are lined with row houses and less often with multifamily and single-family dwellings.
More Neighborhoods in Western Queens
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