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Middle Village, NY: Queens Neighborhood Profile

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Middle Village's Lung

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village

John Roleke
Middle Village is in the heart of Queens' cemetery land. This working-class neighborhood was until recently mostly Italian. But its relatively inexpensive rents and central location have enticed immigrants from Latin America, Poland, and Ireland. This both quiet and bustling neighborhood is home to many of NY's finest. Public transportation options are limited, so most residents drive (and park). And everyone walks to shop and eat on Metropolitan Avenue.

Boundaries and Main Streets:

The main drag that defines Middle Village is Metropolitan Avenue. It's abuzz with small chains and mom-and-pop stores, but is so quiet on the stretches through St. John's Cemetery and the Lutheran Cemetery. To the east is wide Woodhaven Boulevard and then Forest Hills. Eliot Avenue separates it from Rego Park to the north and from Maspeth to the west. LIRR tracks and Cooper Avenue divide it from kindred spirits in Ridgewood and Glendale to the south.

Transportation -- Mass Transit and Highways:

The M subway starts at Metropolitan near 69th Street for its long run through Brooklyn to lower Manhattan. It's at least 40 minutes to the Lower East Side. (The Straphangers Campaign rates the M a mixed bag.) Switch to the L in Bushwick to reach Union Square in 50 to 60 minutes.

The QM 24 and the 24W Express Buses stop on Eliot Avenue before heading to Manhattan.

Middle Village is close enough to the LIE and the Jackie Robinson to make driving easy enough. It's 20 minutes to LGA or JFK.

Middle Village Real Estate and Apartments:

The dead have the best land in the heights above the streets. The living stuggle with basement flooding, especially around Juniper Valley Park. Row houses and multi-family homes are the most common housing, but waves of development have left no distinct look. Apartment buildings and rarer condos are along Metropolitan and 69th Street. Rates as of October 2004:
  • One-bedroom apartment, $850 to $1150; Two-bedroom, $950 to $1400
  • Two-family house, $525,000+; Attached home, $400,000+
  • Condo, $200,000+

History:

Named due to its location midway between Williamsburg and Jamaica, Middle Village got its start in 1816 as part of the larger Newtown community. It didn't take off until burials were banned in Manhattan and churches bought farmland in the area for new cemeteries. Germans dominated the area and its cemetery businesses until Italian immigrants supplanted them in the 20th century. In 1915 the Juniper Swamp was filled in, becoming Juniper Park and allowing for development of the surrounding area.

The Famous Dead:

St. John's Cemetery holds many famed mobsters, including John Gotti and Lucky Luciano. Somehow fitness guru Charles Atlas and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe are also interred there. The General Slocum Steamboat Fire Mass Memorial, commemorating one of the worst disasters in NYC's history, is at Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery (67-29 Metropolitan Avenue).

Restaurants:

For neighborhood pizza, folks pledge fealty to either Rosa's or Carlo's (74-02 Metropolitan), both of which are much better than the average Queens pizzeria. Otherwise try the European Deli for hot, cheap Polish food (75-26 Metropolitan).

Crime and Safety:

Middle Village is a safe neighborhood. In the 1970s and 1980s it was said that the Mafia made sure nothing happened. These days burglary and car theft are not uncommon, but violent crime is rarer. For the year-to-date (9/26/04), the 104th Precinct (including Middle Village, plus Glendale, Ridgewood, and Maspeth) reported: 0 murders (2 in 2003), 18 rapes (9 in 2003), 197 robberies (281 in 2003), 118 felonious assaults (108 in 2003), 450 burglaries (461 in 2003).

Juniper Valley Park:

Juniper Valley Park is a gem with 55 acres of baseball and soccer fields, a track, a roller-hockey rink, playgrounds, and courts for tennis, handball, and bocce. The track and a few fields are new and some of the best in Queens. Come by any day, even a cold Monday morning in October, to see how bocce is played by the pros. Or come in September for the annual NYC Bocce Tournament.
  • Juniper Valley Park: Between Dry Harbor Road, Juniper Boulevard (N and S), and Lutheran Avenue, in Middle Village.

Middle Village Basics:

  • See for Yourself: Neighborhood Photos
  • Juniper Park Civic Association: One of the most active and influential civic associations in the country, their glossy quarterly magazine is chock full of Middle Village and Maspeth news and vibe.
  • Issues and Worries: Overdevelopment, basement flooding, trash and noise from industry on Metropolitan, graffiti, and mini-bikes.
  • Newspapers: The Ridgewood Times newspaper (a.k.a. Times Newsweekly) has the best apartment listings for the Ridgewood, Glendale, and Middle Village area.
  • Shopping: The Metro Mall towers over the subway entrance with a BJs and more. More interesting are the small storefronts, especially Italian specialty shops and butchers, farther down Metropolitan.
  • Best Vegetable Market: Colombo's Fruits and Vegetables, 75-49 Metropolitan Avenue
  • Best Bakery: Catalano Brothers, 75-50 Metropolitan Avenue
  • Library: 72-31 Metropolitan Avenue, 718-326-1390
  • Parking: Along Metropolitan is a nightmare, but it's usually easy to find spots on the side streets.
  • Post Office: 71-35 Metropolitan Avenue
  • Hospital: Elmhurst Hospital Center (EHC), 79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373, 718-334-4000
  • Police Station: 104th Precinct, 64-2 Catalpa Avenue, Ridgewood, NY 11385, 718-386-3004
  • Middle Village Credit Union: Every major bank has a branch nearby, but there's only one Middle Village Credit Union. 78-09 Metropolitan Avenue, 718-894-8050
  • Community Board 5: 61-23 Myrtle Avenue, Glendale, NY 11385, 718-366-1834
  • Schools: There are three NYC public schools in the 11379 zip code and also private Christ the King High School
  • Middle Village Zip Code: 11379
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