For anyone in New York City looking across the East River from Manhattan at the emerging skyline in the borough of Queens, the iconic sign plastered to the massive gantry cranes of an earlier era boldly proclaims "Long Island", but don't be confused, this definitely isn't the suburban Long Island of New York that stretches several miles into the Atlantic. This is Long Island City of New York CITY, an incredibly beautiful and fast growing neighborhood located in the heart of NYC, with an unobstructed waterfront featuring stunning views of the magnificent New York skyline.
Long Island City, also known as LIC, is a really cool place to live, work and visit. It is conveniently located right next to Manhattan, full of great hotels, apartments and restaurants, home to a large and dynamic artistic community, hip and affordable. It is situated on the other side of the East River in the borough of Queens with unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. From LIC, you see many of the historic buildings of New York including the Empire State Building, the United Nations complex and the World Trade Center. The best views of the skyline in LIC are from Hunters Point South and Gantry Plaza State Parks, both located side by side on the LIC waterfront.
The convenience of the LIC lifestyle is underscored for those travelling by the location of New York City's two major airports, JFK and La Guardia. Like LIC, they are both located in Queens. LIC is also a hub for subway connections with eight different subway lines converging in the main business districts of Court Square and Queens Plaza. This makes it incredibly easy to get around the city by train. If you prefer transportation by water, the East River Ferry has a terminal, smack in the middle of the gorgeously designed Hunters Point South Park. The Ferry whisks passengers on a three minute voyage to midtown Manhattan, or takes them all the way down to the southern tip of Manhattan, with stops in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg. Other options for getting around LIC include riding the bus or catching one of New York’s famous yellow cabs.
High-rise hotels and apartments are also springing up in abundance all over LIC, as are quality restaurants at affordable prices serving delicious meals. Businesses are flocking to the area in droves to occupy new skyscrapers rising from the trenches of industrialization. With no end to construction in sight, a new skyline is emerging in LIC itself, on the waterfront and on Court Square, which already boasts, One Court Square, the tallest building in New York outside of Manhattan. Indeed Long Island City seems to be finally coming of age, not just as a showpiece community in the borough of Queens, but as one of the more fascinating New York neighborhoods.
But why has this once independent city that gave up its 'sovereignty' to New York City and converted to a New York neighborhood some one hundred years, suddenly emerge as a major destination in the Big Apple? There really is no one answer. Still, there was a key event that even the antagonists would agree served as a catalyst for the new LIC. It is the rezoning strategy of Mayor Bloomberg.
With the stroke of a rezoning pen very early in his administration, New York's Mayor Mike Bloomberg set in motion a chain of events that spurred the transformation of LIC from an major industrial complex to a burgeoning community. This rezoning created a new government/business partnership, opening the doors of gentrification to developers who in turn expedited the arrival of new residents, visitors and businesses, by constructing a slew of high-rise buildings in key areas of the neighborhood. Within a short space of time, Bloomberg’s strategy had reshaped the landscape and laid the foundation for a gold rush of business opportunity, albeit far different from the previous gold rush that had come to define this former industrial community. This time, with tower after tower rising from the the industrial soil, new life was injected into the forgotten city of Long Island, where the former waterfront brownfields had once served the city's economy. Bloomberg did not receive unanimous applause for his initiative, but by and large the vast majority of New Yorkers and visitors have given him a standing ovation and some are even calling for an encore.
As you now look around LIC, the ongoing transformation is very evident. A new character is emerging from combining its historic industrial past with its newly acquired urban accentuations. Nowhere is this more exemplified than on the waterfront at the extraordinary Gantry Plaza State Park when four gigantic gantries stand amidst a gorgeously designed park to create a jewel on the East River with spectacular views of the New York Skyline. The marriage of the old and the new is truly something that everyone should see.
LIC as a community has always had the ingredients for this unique transformation, but the scope of the neighborhoods character needed to be broadened in order to facilitate it. This seems to have finally happened with the area now flourishing both in expansion and diversity. From the two beautiful waterfront parks with incredible views of the New York skyline, to its own skyline in Hunters Point. From the beautiful brownstones of 45th Avenue to the soaring skyscrapers of Jackson Avenue. From the art studios of 5 Pointz to high-rises in the main business district of Court square. And from the home style meals of food vans to the exquisite cuisine of fine dinning restaurants on Vernon Boulevard.
Yes, LIC has arrived, and is not just taking its rightful place as a showcase community in Queens, but moreso as a destination in New York. It is indeed a great time for residents, businesses and for visitors alike. Some ten years into the growth spurt, the question now being asked of all those who have joined the LIC bandwagon is how much longer will it last? And the answer being whispered, at least for the time being, has become the new LIC mantra ‘Ain’t no stopping us now!’