NFT New York Long Island City / Hunter's Point

Long Island City / Hunter's Point

Long Island City has some excellent waterfront features, but it's also one of Queens' most developed, Manhattanish neighborhoods, plus when the 7 train is acting up, it turns a 5-second ride between boroughs into a thrashing nightmare. LIC's technical boundaries stretch from Newtown Creek to the south to roughly 34th Avenue to the north, bordering Astoria, but LIC has two distinct areas separated by Queens Plaza.

South of Queens Plaza beyond the Citigroup Building (which is so huge it always tells you which way is Queens), Beaux-arts Long Island City Courthouse and Hunter's Point Historic District lies gentrified Hunter's Point, which has grown rapidly thanks to rezoning that allowed Battery Park City-like high rises along the waterfront. The young professional influx brought new stores and restaurants to Vernon Boulevard. Sushi, that leading gentrifying indicator, shows the evolution: Until relatively recently Hunter's Point had no sushi at all, but today there are several sushi joints, not to mention a handful of comfort food spots and even a full-time comedy club. Even the See more.

>New York Irish Center arrived, providing a community center for the city's Irish diaspora. Gantry Plaza State Park along the waterfront is hands-down the best view of Manhattan anywhere, and it has grown along with the neighborhood; construction to extend it as far north as Anable Basin near 46th Avenue continues. South of Gantry Plaza State Park the City has started work on Hunters Point South, a project that will bring thousands of middle-income units to the waterfront. Also along the waterfront is the LIC Community Boathouse, which heralds the triumphant reuse of the city's waterways; just keep your kayak out of Newtown Creek until the EPA is finished there.

The area around Queens Plaza has seen much new development. Expensive condos with great Manhattan views now surround Queensboro Plaza, the first stop in Queens for the N and Q trains and a transfer point for the 7 train out to Flushing. Also north of Queens Plaza lies the vestigial Dutch Kills neighborhood, which looks much like Astoria (so much so that you are forgiven in advance for simply referring to it as Astoria), and Queensbridge Houses, one of the largest public housing projects in the nation. Onetime home to artists like Marley Marl's Juice Crew and Nas, Queensbridge is to hip-hop as Addisleigh Park is to jazz. Linked to Midtown via one or two stops, the area between 37th and 41st Avenues north of Queens Plaza has seen a (literal) rise in mid-range hotels slowly squeezing out light industry while providing an inexpensive and convenient option for visitors. The area south of Queens Plaza, on the other hand, still retains an industrial look and feel.

Light industry sprang up in LIC after the Queensboro Bridge (or 59th Street Bridge, depending on your point of view) opened in 1909 and thrived until the middle of the century, though parts of the area are currently designated an Industrial Business Zone by the City. The iconic Pepsi-Cola Sign along the waterfront is a vestige of LIC's industrial past preserved for all Beekman Place to see. Many of LIC's industrial buildings were repurposed for studio space in the 1970s and 1980s, giving the neighborhood its artistic reputation that survives today. MoMA PS1, housed in a historic school building, dates to 1976. Other museums and galleries followed, including the Noguchi Museum (1985), Fisher Landau Center for Art (1991) and SculptureCenter (2001). Smaller galleries, performance spaces and collectives such as Flux Factory, Dorsky Gallery, Local Project, and The Chocolate Factory thrive even as real estate prices have risen.

Long Island City is about location, location, location -- both in terms of real estate and as a hub of New York City's film and television industry. Silvercup Studios uses the former Silvercup Bakery building along the East River, and what was once a sleepy industrial area best suited for taxi companies is now clogged with film crews for on-location shoots. The two are combined at Taxi Depot, whose vintage cabs parked out front are not for hacks but rather film crews needing props.

Nightlife
Hit Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill for outdoor waterfront drinks or indulge in mixology at Dutch Kills. Join the locals at LIC Bar and Dominie's Hoek. Try the beer selection at Alewife. Both The Creek and the Cave and Laughing Devil offer top-notch comedy.

Restaurants
Standbys like Manducatis, Bella Via, and Tournesol all chug along. El Ay Si lends comfort (food) while Alobar pushes that envelope more toward gastropub. Casa Enrique's offerings are inspired by the cuisine of the Mexican state of Chiapas, Corner Bistro serves West Village-style burgers, and John Brown Smokehouse is the current neighborhood go-to for barbecue.

Shopping
Get your custom-built axe at Sadowsky Guitars. Go to Hunter's Point Wines & Spirits for a carefully curated selection and great guidance. Quality and prices are both elevated at Food Cellar, which is the cost of doing business here. And Just Things is a quirky amalgamation of thrift, junk and antique store that we hope never ever leaves.




         
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This Neighborhood Featured in...
Five Beers in Five Boroughs + One Mugging

By Craig Nelson
Come on an epic journey across the five boroughs with NFT Managing Editor Craig Nelson and his drinking buddy Gabriel. From pure beer garden bliss to a late-night visit to the Bellevue ER, they experience the best and worst of New York City in a few short hours. The following is a true story...

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On Our Radar:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Molly Riordan

Queensbridge Park
Some people love the Queensboro Bridge (Simon, Garfunkel, Jay Gatsby). Others don't (cabbies in traffic, passed-over Roosevelt Islanders). Ponder this architectural behemoth from the park that bares its name. Queensbridge Park doesn't attract crowds, or even people outside the neighborhood. But it does have a great view of Midtown, a fake-turf playing field, playgrounds, barbeques, all in the shadow of the massive century-old cantilever bridge. Take a picnic, take a soccer ball, take a respite from the hustle with a good view of city-bustle. And take your map to get back to the subway.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Posted By:  Tommy Rudnick
Photo:  Tommy Rudnick

Just Things
Lately, I have found that most thrift stores don't leave you feeling very thrifty. Beacon's Closet and Amarcord (both located in Williamsburg) are great for finding a nice old cardigan (which I have done), but one must be prepared to overpay for it, so to speak (which I have also done). The solution: don't shop in Williamsburg; go to Queens! Queens is cheaper, and Long Island City has one of the best thrift stores I've ever been to. It's called Just Things. Technically, it does just have things. But it has cheap things. Beautiful things: jewelry, hats, porcelain, clothes, shoes, records, antiques, etc, etc., and it's been in the neighborhood for thirty years. Just the other day, I happened upon a beautiful wooden box for a friend's birthday, and it was cheap! It's not a hip thrift store; it's just a thrift store--something that's becoming harder and harder to find.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Posted By:  Tommy Rudnick
Photo:  Tommy Rudnick

RMS Titanic Memorial
The only Titanic Memorial I know of is located in Long Island City. On 11th St. near the base of the Pulaski Bridge (the one that connects Queens and Greenpoint), the memorial doesn't necessarily pop out in relief unless you're looking for it (and now you'll have no excuse). There's a flagpole, three fountains, lots of plastic flowers, porcelain cupids, a small wooden replica of the ship, photos of survivors, a photo of the captain, a Welcome sign, a No Peddlers sign, a Photography Permitted Sign, an ADA Security Systems sign. There's also a wide variety of plastic squirrels and frogs. And a bronze Jesus statue. It's about as wide and as tall as a townhouse. And why is this? Because it actually is someone's townhouse. Joe Coletti, a local nightclub manager, has always had an affinity for the story of the Titanic's maiden and fatal voyage. For the last 20 odd years, Titanic facts and memorabilia have accumulated on the facade of his house--a small homage to the 4-city-block-long ship and the 1522 passengers who died almost a century ago.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Posted By:  Tommy Rudnick
Photo:  Tommy Rudnick

Gantry Plaza State Park
Space. We all want more of it. Our apartments are too small; the subway is too damn crowded; the office is a coffin. Even parks don't really solve the problem: the last time I tried to read a book in Central Park, a man sat next to me with a boombox. Gramercy Park is nice, if you're one of the few people who has the key to get in. Madison Square Park and Bryant Park have their perks--but much of their spaces, for one reason or another, are often fenced off. On the other hand, Gantry Plaza State Park is the only park that actually feels like a park. Never heard of it? Most people haven't, which is why it's one of the last, quiet, anxiety-reducing spaces in the city. A set of four docks reach into the East River, drawing people (and their dogs) toward the skyline of Manhattan. Out here, it's quiet. The water may be contaminated, but it looks nice in the setting sun. There's flocks of birds--not pigeons, but birds! Real birds! The air is cleaner, almost breathable. You may be reminded that, from a distance, New York City doesn't seem so bad. Also, the last scene of "Munich" was filmed here. It's true.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Posted By:  Tommy Rudnick
Photo:  Tommy Rudnick

LIC Bar
I don't care if you live in Manhattan, or in Brooklyn, or wherever. LIC Bar is the only bar in the city that's worth more than a 10-minute trek. Yes, it's in Long Island City. But it's probably closer than you think--just one stop away from Grand Central on the 7 train. The drinks--mostly microbrews, Belgian beer, and single-malt scotch--are deliciously cheap. The interior hasn't changed in 100 years; it's gorgeous, covered from floor to ceiling in ornate woodwork. The backyard is perfect for summer nights: two giant weeping willows seem to erase the general noise of the city. In the winter, there's always a fire going in what used to be a carriage house. There's live music every Sunday. There's a photo booth. It's never too crowded or too quiet, or too hip or too unhip. LIC Bar effortlessly is what so many bars in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side fail to be--an authentic, relaxing, happy place.



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Posted By:  Tommy Rudnick
Photo:  Tommy Rudnick

Tournesol
A good French restaurant, especially in Queens, is hard to find. Okay, it's not that hard to find. Queen's best "Bistro francais," in Long Island City, has a tiny old red car in front of it. If you're in the neighborhood, you can't miss it. Herein lies the problem: most people wouldn't expect a restaurant with perfect steak frites to be on this side of the East River. But, dear reader, I would not be writing this if it weren't true; I would not have been going every Thursday night for the past year (and often on Sunday morning) if this weren't true. Because, even in comparison to the West Village's (over)abundance of French bistros, nothing comes as eerily close to perfection as Tournesol. The ratatouille, the lamb chop, every special I've ever had, the bearnaise sauce, the chocolate nougat dessert, the lightly chilled red wine...it's just so good. And the prices are significantly lower than those on the island of Manhattan. And the maitre d' gives me free Rose champagne. And everyone has real French accents. And I've overheard, on more than one occasion, real people from Manhattan saying it's their favorite French restaurant too. So go. And look for the red car.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow

BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center
BrickHouse is to Color Me Mine as Shake Shack is to McDonald's. It's for people who have longer attention spans, really want to learn about ceramics, and would rather design their own projects than paint in a scene of Disney characters printed on a coffee mug. Artists can rent studio time, and learners from beginner to advanced can sign up for one-on-one lessons or three to six-week class sessions all year round. They cover hand building, wheel throwing, and glazing, but there is no word on opportunities to re-enact the erotic pottery scene in Ghost. Those who prefer to buy rather than make can check out their seasonal sales (like, for example the one last May) when BrickHouse artists make their wares available at a tiny fraction of gallery prices. Note that prices will go up whenever the Commodores song is hummed.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow

La Vuelta
My fellow Queens eaters, you can lose your fetish for "authentic" immigrant cuisine and learn to love a neighborhood bistro serving pan-Latin comfort food. First, grab a table in the garden. Next, order a pitcher of freshly mixed margaritas (or maybe mojitos, remember the "pan-" part?). Then, get the Picadillo Platter, a heaping assortment of chorizo, empanadas, quesadillas and more that can easily serve six as an appetizer or three as an entree. Now it's a party. By the time your genuinely friendly server brings nicely presented, flavorful plates of ropa veija or some such, you'll be having too much fun to take pictures for your blog. Festivity: it's what's for dinner.



Thursday, February 7, 2008

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Courtesy Roomorama

Blend
Don't hate them because they have a menu category labeled "Tapatizers," Hate them because there are no mojitos. Hey, no bottle of rioja either. What’s happening here is Blend came along and filled an empty storefront on the main drag in Hunter's Point with "Latin Fusion" food, kind but dim servers, and sleek hotel-like décor. What did they get for their efforts to bring a little slice of the Meatpacking District to the citizens of Queens? The community board shot down their application for a liquor license in an effort to curb the growth of new restaurants on a commercial street. Blend is too large to be allowed to operate as a BYOB, so here we are, ropa vieja in hand with nothing to quaff but a seltzer. As a resident of said commercial street, I'm bummed. I guess I'll come back when I'm a teetotaler.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo: 

PJ Leahy's
In the rapidly changing landscape of Hunter's Point, there are only a few constants. P.J. Leahy's is one of them. You can count on the corner bar sitting just five steps from the 7 stop at Vernon-Jackson to sling a pleasingly greasy Irish breakfast by day, ply Sunday afternoon football fans with cheap pints and endless 25 cent wings, and close to the tune of tuneless broads singing along to Billy Joel on the jukebox. The crowd is local and quite genial, and each table has its own flat-screen television attached, making it the perfect place to catch games and freely root for all those teams that hail from beyond the Hudson. Well, maybe not the Red Sox. That might be pushing it.



Thursday, August 30, 2007

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  JKS

Gantry Plaza State Park
Mabou Mines has been kicking ass and taking names in the world of avant-garde theater since 1970, back when most people were just sitting around in their wood-paneled basements listening to Guess Who. We'll give you five reasons to see their latest show. 1.) It pays tribute to our beloved city of New York with five different borough-specific performances. Yes, including Staten Island! 2.) It will be performed on a barge in the East River, and audiences will watch from the piers of Gantry State Park in Long Island City, with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. Take that, Shakespeare in the Park! 3.) It's got live music, dance, theatre, poetry, AND a bunch of men knitting. 4.) There will be a photo booth where you can get your portrait taken and add it to a collection for an upcoming gallery show. 5.) It's free, no tickets, just show up. Only in New York, kids, only in New York. Get informed at maboumines.org. Performances will happen from August 31 to September 9.



Friday, May 18, 2007

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of FLCA

Fisher Landau Center for Art
As part of its 15th anniversary celebration, The Fisher Landau Center for Art is presenting two exciting new exhibitions organized by Bill Katz, the museum's curator, from the private collection of Emily Fisher Landau. Paper includes more than 200 rarely (and in some cases never) seen works by artists ranging from Joe Andoe, Carl Andre, and Richard Artschwager to James Wyeth, Tadanori Yokoo, and Lisa Yuskavage. Remembering Michael Hurson features 15 of Hurson's sly images (some on loan from other collections), including a portrait of Mrs. Landau, commissioned in 1987. After meeting Michael Hurson, known for his whimsical paintings and drawings of humans and inanimate objects, Emily Fisher Landau began collecting the artist's work in depth. The exhibition is a tribute to Hurson and is the first show of his work since his sudden death in January 2007. There is an opening reception on Saturday, May 19th from 3 to 6 pm, and the exhibit will be up through December 2007.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Posted By:  Jayson Walker
Photo:  Jayson Walker

Until fairly recently, only mechanics and storage space dockhands could be found anywhere near 11th and 37th Ave, the neighborhood equivalent of the taint—forever in Astoria/LIC ownership status dispute—that Bulgara Restaurant calls home. Even though there is a clear lack of competition in this warehouse wasteland, Bulgara dominates the area's Bulgarian-based food and entertainment scene not for want of adversaries, but for delivering a kick-ass blast of Balkanatolia for the homesick, the hungry, and the curious. Clean and rather quaint for a converted warehouse, full families, couples, and the requisite mixed bag of cologne-heavy Dieselclad wolf down treble kebab platters, feta-heavy shopska salad, schnitzel, karnache, and Bulgarian burgers (kofte), all richly dressed with roasted peppers, potato salad, and pintos while treated to a multi-sensory explosion of double-d Paris Hilton-esque pop stars blaring out of the tube, speakers, or makeshift DJ booth. A feast for the mouth, eyes, but not necessarily the ears. However, two or three rounds of reasonably priced rakia, a gulpable cross between grappa and plum wine, and you might find yourself changing your tune, about their hairstyles anyway...



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of SculptureCenter

Ok, you’ve now reached the holy grail of your day. SculptureCenter is super cool—cool space, cool history, cool artists, and of course very cool art. It is an artist-run nonprofit and gallery supporting innovative and experimental sculpture. It was founded way back in 1928 and has been a LIC fixture in a former trolley repair shop since 2001. It features 6,000 square feet of dramatic exhibition space designed by Maya Lin. Very cool indeed. So before you start chugging beers and grabbing NFT books by the handful, make sure you take a good look around and appreciate this unique place. Even better, think about becoming a member to help keep this vital artistic space in Queens alive and kicking well into the future. Check out their website for more information.bition space designed by Maya Lin. Need I say more? So before you start chowing down on meatballs and grabbing NFT books by the handful, make sure you take a good look around and appreciate this unique place. Even better, think about becoming a member to help keep this vital artistic space in Queens alive and kicking well into the future.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com

Gantry Plaza State Park
This former industrial site has been transformed into a fantastic park that offers the most breathtaking views of Manhattan in the whole city. You can take in the scenery from the comfort of one of the wooden chaise lounges. The park’s centerpieces are two beautifully preserved gantries that loom over the waterfront. Stroll the four piers (one dedicated to fishing complete with a sink and counter to clean your catch of the day) or check out the unique mist fountain if you’re feeling the heat.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of TalShpartzer www.talfoto.com

Now that you have your new NFT Queens, you can take it for a test spin to navigate yourself to the LIC Bar. After a few free beers, you’ll certainly need all the help you can get. This laid back, vintage style saloon is the perfect place to spend a Saturday evening, especially since they will be hosting the NFT Queens After Party. No sculpture here—just good beer and a nice selection of single-malt scotches. Grab a drink, generously tip the friendly barkeeps, and escape to their serene backyard patio. Although, we’re not sure how serene it will be once the entire NFT posse shows up.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  none

Water Taxi Beach Harry's
Yearning to be a beach bum for a few hours? You’ve come to the right place. Kick off your shoes and chill out at this beach—complete with real sand! They open at noon on Saturdays and offer beer, cocktails, and barbeque items from their grills. And since they don’t charge an admission fee, if you’re a real cheapskate you can just come and hang out and play volleyball with your pals. Just take note that no coolers, outside food or drink, or glass containers are allowed. And no matter how hard it is to resist, don’t even think about jumping in the East River—no swimming is permitted (thank goodness).



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of www.bridgeandtunnelclub.com

5 Star Punjabi Diner
If you can’t wait to chow down on the 800 free meatballs, head over to 5 Stars for some cheap and tasty Indian food. They have plenty of meat and vegetarian options including their famous item—Chicken Chilli. You can sit at the counter and mingle with the cabbies to get the full-on LIC experience. And if you’re really lucky, they may even be playing some Bollywood flicks on their tv set.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  none

Start your day with some good coffee or a fine pot of tea at this relaxing spot in LIC. If you’re addicted to the internet, you can bring your laptop and use their free Wi-Fi. But better yet, leave the computer at home and watch this great ‘hood slowly come to life through their large windows. They open at 9 am on Saturdays, so you’ll have plenty of time to fully caffeinate yourself for the big day ahead.



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Court Square Diner
This is a good spot to hit as your magical day in Queens is winding down. Their reliable grub will sop up all the (free) liquor in your system to ensure a full recovery by Sunday morning. Plus, trust us—no one can resist the gravylicious Disco Fries at 3 am! And for those poor unfortunate souls who don’t live in Queens, it’s only steps from the Court House Square 7 station to whisk you back to Manhattan. We guarantee you’ll be dreaming of Queens and thanking NFT all the way home.




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