The multi-ethnic mosaic of middle-class Jackson Heights, Queens is instantly visible on exiting the subway at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue stop.
Little India, with its shops selling sari fabric and Bollywood movies, and restaurants like Jackson Diner and Indian Taj serving South Asian fare, takes up two blocks along 74th Street between Broadway and 35th Avenue, a main shopping thoroughfare. Not far away, the Jackson Heights library branch has shelves filled with texts in Russian, Bengali, Korean, Hindi, and Portuguese, among others. And the local elementary school, PS 69, is said to have the most diverse student body in the country, with approximately 84 different languages spoken at home. You'll also find apartment complexes—a mix of rentals and co-ops, and none more than six stories—lining the quiet streets alongside English Gregorian style semi-detached houses.
But what is it like to live in this Queens neighborhood? We spoke to residents to find out:
Neighborhood boundaries: Northern Boulevard to 41st Street and 72nd to 88th Streets
Meals on wheels (plus coffee, booze and sweets): "Sammy's Halal, Potala Fresh Momo and the famous Sainted Arepa Lady are all great. And, any Mexican food truck will be a home run."- Daniel "I recommend Table Wine for great libations, Espresso 77, which displays the work of local artists, as a meeting place with good coffee, and the Delhi Heights $9.99 lunch buffet." - Pauline, owns a co-op studio "Cannelle Patisserie—the original shop; there's a newer one in Long Island CIty—has fabulous pastries and warm sandwiches. And a small sweets shop called Al Naimat, on the way to the subway station on 74th Street, makes Kashmiri Chai with little pistachio nuts—so good." - Sue, owns a three-bedroom house
A lot for the little ones: "I've lived in Jackson Heights most of my life, though didn't realize what a great place it is for new parents until I became one. It's great for walking, and there are many activities and groups for young children. For example, on a rainy day you can take the kids to an indoor playground called Fiesta Kids (off 83rd Street) for about $5 to $7 for the day. There are also music classes, soccer clubs, and 'storytimes,' as well as Mommy and Me yoga." - Sue
And tulips too: "In the spring, volunteers with the Jackson Heights Beautification Group get together to plant tulips on the traffic islands. There's a huge Halloween parade for the kids on the main avenue every year. And there's an annual film festival featuring local artists' work called Queens World that has screenings in various venues in the neighborhood." - Sue "Really the only two things lacking in Jackson Heights are parks and a public square." - Pauline
Fair trade?: "I stopped shopping at the non-unionized Global Supermarket, which was formerly Trade Fair, on 37th Avenue, and now shop at the unionized Met Foods. - Pauline
Neighbors "air" their grievances: "There are objections about the air traffic to LaGuardia once a week in the morning. I shouldn't complain, Woodside gets it a lot worse. But people in Jackson Heights are crazy about the air traffic. They'll write in to the governmental agency that controls landing paths to ensure we get as little noise pollution as possible. People complain about plane noise all the time." - Daniel, owns a studio co-op
Welcome to transit heaven: "Transportation is great. The Roosevelt Avenue stop services the E/F/M/R/7 trains. Of the blue trains, the E is by far the most reliable and frequently running. It takes only about 15 to 20 minutes to get into Manhattan. You can connect to an express bus to LaGuardia Airport here, and I use Uber when I need a car service." - Daniel "Bicycling is another transportation option. Jackson Height's 34th Avenue has a nice bike lane that takes you through parts of the beautiful historic district." - Sue