Ask any resident of Long Island where they think Long Island City is located, and you may get a few blank stares in return. Even the most seasoned Long Islander would probably have trouble telling you what borough Long Island City is in! So let’s lift the veil and reveal the actual; what, where, why, when and [exactly] how Long Island City became one of the most celebrated and bustling boroughs in the New York City area.
To really get to know Long Island City we need to learn a bit about its history. ¶Located in the western-most part of Queens New York, Long Island City (comprised of the hamlets of Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills and a few others) were merged together to create the incorporated city of “Long Island City”. In the tumultuous years that followed (that included a bankruptcy of the city and a failed secession of the Village of Astoria away from LIC); the now incorporated city permanently surrendered their independence to become part of the “City of Greater New York” (c. 1898).
Quickly, bonds from the city were authorized to help improve water service, fund the construction of railways, a court house and a church. And after lengthy discussions, lots of planning and fund raising, the construction of the Queensborough Bridge (linking Long Island City to Manhattan) was opened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic (c. 1909). By the end of 1910, the LIRR would establish passenger access into Manhattan for its residents.
Rural neighborhoods soon gave-way to pockets of industry and manufacturing. The Steinway Piano factory (which first took hold in Manhattan) expanded its operation to Astoria. The Steinway family erected a mansion and a four-story piano casing factory that helped boost the local economy. The Steinway family also created Steinway Village which not only included housing for its workers, but also contained a library (now known as Queens Library), a public school, a firehouse and a post office.
Long Island City grew in size and importance as businesses, factories and residents began to populate the area. The city flourished until the mid-1970s when businesses eventually migrated away from New York transforming LIC into a metropolis of empty buildings and vacant warehouse spaces. As the 1980’s approached; artists, musicians and entrepreneurs (who were priced-out of the Manhattan real estate market) would arrive. This new crop of individuals would be attracted by the rural quality of the city, its converted factories [into loft spaces] as well as its many parks and exhibition spaces where they could showcase their wares.
Business and artistry having always been a part of LIC’s growth and culture, today hosts large companies like; Silvercup Studios (home to some of New York’s most popular TV series’ and movie productions), JetBlue Airways, Citigroup, Fresh Direct (and hopefully soon…Amazon!) have all found residence in LIC. The artist community is also represented heavily with the inclusion of MoMa PS1, 5 Pointz outdoor art exhibit space and the Museum of the Moving Image just to name a few. In addition, many structures in LIC have been added to the National Register of Historic Places list.
With the arrival of the 2000’s and new rezoning rules, which re-directed the city away from industry towards residential, saw the development of middle income and luxury dwellings. This shift provided an alternative for occupants who had been paying for (or who couldn’t afford) the high real estate prices in Manhattan. Today, residents who work or play in NYC can now afford the same high-end surroundings [and amenities] one might find on the upper west side, at a fraction of the price!
Living in Long Island City can be exciting, comfortable and [who knew] affordable! Learn more about LIC and places you can live by clicking here. And don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.