Riding the Line – Part 2
Continuing along Queens Boulevard, the 7 train makes stops at 40th and 46th Streets before curving onto Roosevelt Avenue to stop at 52nd street.
Sunnyside is a quiet community just outside the busy commercial cores of Long Island City and Midtown Manhattan. It is home to Sunnyside Gardens, built between 1924 and 1928 as the first planned garden community in the United States. Today Sunnyside is much larger than just the Gardens, but the original historic homes and mews remain as part of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District. The main commercial streets of Sunnyside are Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue, but cafes, laundromats, and supermarkets line both Skillman and 43rd Avenues as well.
As with most of Queens, Sunnyside is home to a mix of people from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. The southern portion of the neighborhood has a sizable South Asian and Latin American population, while the northern side of the neighborhood, which includes Sunnyside Gardens, is generally wealthier and whiter. The northern part of Sunnyside is also home to a significant Turkish community, who make their presence felt through restaurants and grocery stores like Turkiyem Market or the Turkish Grill, as well as the Turkish Cultural Center Queens.
Woodside is the next Queens neighborhood served by the 7 train. Rumbling along on its elevated steel trackbed, the 7 train stops at 61st Street and 69th Street. Home to Doughboy Park, the Long Island Rail Road, Little Manila, and old Irish pubs, Woodside is quintessentially Queens.
Doughboy Park is named after the Woodside Doughboy, which was the name given to the young men in the neighborhood who returned home after serving in World War I. The park is also built directly into a hill, giving it a more natural feel than most New York City parks. From the basketball courts at the top of the hill, you can get glimpses of the Manhattan skyline and the planes landing at LaGuardia Airport.
Woodside is also a great neighborhood for transit. The 61st Street-Woodside 7 train stop is both local and express, making Midtown Manhattan only a 15-minute ride away during morning or evening peak hours. The Long Island Rail Road also stops in Woodside and arrives in Penn Station just 10 minutes later. Many different Queens bus routes descend on Woodside as well, with the Q70 Select Bus Service providing express service to LaGuardia.
The area around 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue is the center of Queens’s Filipino community, with restaurants and grocery stores like the Phil-Am Food Mart and Kabayan serving the surrounding neighborhood. Woodside also used to be home to a large Irish community after a number of immigration waves from Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While most of the original residents have moved out, a few Irish pubs like Sean Og’s and Donovan’s Pub can still be seen flying the Irish flag near 61st Street. Directly adjacent to many of these pubs are Chinese grocery stores that serve the wave of immigrants that moved to the area in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The 7 train’s next few stops are 74th, 82nd, and 90th Streets. These three stops pass through the neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Roosevelt Avenue is the dividing line between these two neighborhoods, with Jackson Heights north of the avenue and Elmhurst south. The majority of the area’s transit is centered on the 74th Street station, which is a hub for the E, F, M, R, and 7 trains, but the 82nd Street and 90th Street stations are also well used. It’s only a 30-minute ride on the 7 into Midtown or a 20-minute ride on the E or F express.
Jackson Heights, and to a lesser extent Elmhurst, is probably best known for its cultural and ethnic diversity. It is estimated that 167 different languages are spoken in this dense section of northwestern Queens. The area is largely working-class, with dozens of immigrant communities that created distinct enclaves. About half the area identifies as Latino, with people hailing from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Uruguay. Another 20% identifies as South Asian, with Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, and Nepali heritage people predominating. There are also older white residents, as well as some newer, wealthier residents who are mainly clustered in the spacious pre-war garden apartments around 80th Street and 34th Avenue.
The section of 74th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue is the heart of Jackson Heights’s South Asian community. Large grocery stores like Patel Brothers and Apna Bazar serve the community’s diverse culinary needs. In addition to food, there are Indian saree clothing shops, a handful of jewelry and electronics stores, as well as banks along 74th street.
37th Avenue between 77th Street and Junction Boulevard is the main commercial corridor for the Latin American immigrant population. Colombian restaurants like Seba Seba and Arepa Lady line the street. La Gran Uruguaya is an important restaurant and hub for the small but tightly-knit Uruguayan community in Jackson Heights.
Lastly, a ten-block stretch of Broadway in Elmhurst is home to a diverse East Asian community. Here you can find Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Thai restaurants surrounding Moore Homestead park and the long-dismantled Long Island Rail Road Elmhurst station.