Written by Peta Arthurson
Long Island City (LIC) is my second New York neighborhood (we were previously in the FiDi) and I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it. While it has spectacular views, amenity-laden apartment buildings, and great parks, it does lack the gritty Manhattan vibe. It’s very new and safe, but it can be much colder than Manhattan in winter due to the brutal East River winds. For most of the year, LIC slips under the radar. That is until 50,000 people descend on July 4th to grab the best fireworks viewing spots (a little-known secret)!
LIC is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of Queens, directly opposite midtown Manhattan. You’re looking at it when you see the Pepsi Cola sign. It is noted for its rapid and ongoing residential growth and gentrification, its waterfront parks, and its thriving arts community. It is bordered by Astoria to the north, the East River to the west, Hazen Street/49th Street and New Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside to the east, and Newtown Creek to the south.
Access to LIC is via the 7 train and transport is wonderful because you can transfer to any subway line as it runs across 42nd street stopping at Grand Central, Bryant Park and Times Square. The E train is also a 15 minute walk away. The East River Ferry runs across to 34th Street and downtown through Brooklyn to Wall Street.
I live in the Center Boulevard area of LIC, where buildings are new and shiny and most apartments have amazing Manhattan views. Common amenities in the buildings include gyms, roof decks, bbqs, pools, and cinema rooms.
The area is still very new and is still finding its own identity. It is very family friendly with the Gantry State Park running along the foreshore. We have basketball courts, children’s playgrounds and lots of grass and trees! It is often nicknamed Dog Island City because there are so many dogs in the area and we have just got our 4th dog park within walking distance of my building.
Food / Restaurants
There are some amazing restaurants including SHI, Maiella and Blend. Coffeed at the LIC Landing in the Gantry State Park situated by the East River Ferry has a canteen vibe with music and views. It’s a fantastic spot for sun sets and watching the locals return from their Manhattan jobs.
Even though the restaurants are great, the area would definitely benefit from some more casual shops and food options. We don’t have a Subway, A Chipotle, A Maccas or even a Starbucks! We have Sweetleaf cafe in two locations, plus a Dunkin Donuts. Bareburger and Mu Ramen have both opened in the last 6 months and for an area starved of new restaurants, they were packed out for weeks!
The LIC Flea and Food Market runs each Saturday and Sunday, year round (outdoor in Summer months, indoors in Winter) and the Brooklyn-born Smorgasburg opened its food market in LIC on 11th July, running on Saturdays.
LIC has some of the highest concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space of any neighborhood in New York City.
MoMA PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, is the oldest and second-largest non-profit arts center in the United States solely devoted to contemporary art. It is named after the former public school in which it is housed.
Sculpture Center is New York City’s only non-profit exhibition space dedicated to contemporary and innovative sculpture.
LIC offers one of the most beautiful walks the city has to offer, with breathtaking Manhattan views as your back drop. It also offers more bang for your rental buck – you’ll get larger apartment living space and more building amenities than you would find for the same dollars in Manhattan. The apartment buildings along Center Blvd are worth checking out if you’re in the market for a new apartment.
Photo credit: Peta Arthurson