1. Local

Flushing Chinatown in Queens, New York: A Neighborhood Tour

Checking Out Downtown Flushing, Plus Directions and Parking

By

Signs in downtown Flushing, NY

Signs in downtown Flushing

Photo (c) John Roleke
Downtown Flushing is the largest urban center in Queens, and home to the second largest Chinatown in New York City (Flushing neighborhood profile). Get off the 7 subway or the LIRR at Flushing Main Street and step into the crowds. The downtown sidewalks pulse with people – of all nationalities but predominantly East Asians, specifically Chinese and Koreans. Signs in Chinese are at least as prominent as those in English. This Chinatown, though, is a real American fusion. For food there's everything from McDonald's and Chinese seafood restaurants to street vendors selling fried noodles. For drinks there are Irish bars, Starbucks, and bubble tea cafes. The shopping ranges from the standard Old Navy and upscale Benetton to Chinese bookstores, herbal medicine shops, Asian groceries, and music stores that stock the latest hits from Shanghai.

Chinatown in Flushing is home to a vibrant middle class and blue-collar community, and is wealthier than Chinatown in Manhattan. Until the 1970s Flushing was mostly an Italian and Greek neighborhood, but the downtown was shaken by the economic turmoil of the 1970s. People left Flushing and housing prices dropped. Korean and Chinese immigrants began to settle in Flushing by the late 1970s, and have predominated since the 1980s.

Many of the Chinese arrivals to Flushing have come from Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and even Latin America (from earlier immigrant groups). The representation of the extended Chinese community makes the eating possibilities in Flushing most delicious.

Today's tour of downtown Flushing covers: This tour focuses on Chinese stores and restaurants in downtown Flushing. The commercial heart of the area is the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, and it extends for several blocks in all directions. (Further south on Main Street the majority of stores cater to South Asians: the Pakistanis, Indians, Sikhs, and Afghans who also call Flushing home. East of Main Street on Northern Boulevard the Korean community has congregated.) To learn more about the larger neighborhood, see this Flushing, New York, profile.

Public Transportation to Flushing: Subway, Train, and Bus

  • The 7 subway serves downtown Flushing with its terminal station on Main Street.
  • The LIRR train on the Port Washington line also stops on Main. Buses connect Flushing to the rest of Queens and also north to the Bronx.
  • The following buses serve Flushing downtown: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 25, 28, 34, 44, 65, and 66.

Driving Directions to Flushing

  • It is fairly easy to drive to Flushing, but traffic and parking in the downtown can trigger migraines. Northern Boulevard and Main Street are the two most prominent thoroughfares. Exit the Whitestone Expressway (I-678/Van Wyck) at Northern Boulevard. Or exit the LIE (I-495) at Main Street, and drive north for about a mile.
  • Check Yahoo's map of Flushing.

Parking in Downtown Flushing, Queens

  • There is a large municipal lot at 37th Avenue and Union Street. The price is right at this two-level garage. There is smaller municipal lot next to the LIRR at 41 Avenue, just west of Main Street. Another small lot is on Prince Street, between 38 and 39 Avenues, which can often be a nightmare to navigate.
  • There are several private parking lots, like the one across from the Flushing Mall at Prince and 39th Avenue.
  • On a weekday you might get lucky and find a spot on the side streets around the Flushing Mall. The farther you go toward College Point Boulevard (west of Main), the more likely you will find street parking. Residential streets like those east of Union tend to have parking restrictions. Parking on Main Street is for the lucky and the thrill seeking. Watch out for the double-parkers!
  1. About.com
  2. Local
  3. Queens, NY
  4. Eating Out - Restaurants
  5. Flushing Chinatown in Queens, New York: A Neighborhood Tour

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.