Silent gentrification in the heart of Queens

  • Long Island City and Queensboro bridge are the door to Queens facing the East River. the "manhattanized" skyline will be further developed towards the interior of the borough as well it's opposite pole, Flushing. New York City.

  • Long Island City is the Western border of Queens, facing the East River. Its "manhattanized" skyline will be further developed towards the interior of the borough as well it's opposite eastern pole, Flushing. New York City.

  • Roosevelt Av.  parts the heart of Queens. From Jackson Hts up to Flushing, the avenue is the spine of an interconnection of micro enclaves. It's being subject to a rezoning and a BID that will likely shake the old social balance and foster a gentrification process. New York City.

  • In the backstage of Jackson Heights' intensely diversified social pattern, the presence of young mid-class people isn't a rarity anymore. Relocating from upscaled areas of Manhattan they can still afford local rising prices. Jackson Hts, Queens, New York City.

  • South side of Roosevelt Avenue between Jackson Hts and Corona is mostly populated by Filipinos. Queens, New York.

  • Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Señora Acero (Iron Lady), series aired by Telemundo TV. Spanish is the only language used in the majority of the borough's signboards. For the newcomers, nothing remains but to adapt, until a likely consistent gentrification process will reverse linguistic habits. Corona, Queens, New York.

  • Parents pick up their children up from school in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Parents pick up their children up from school. Middle class families are breaking in the intensely diversified social pattern of Jackson Heights in a sort of "counter white flight". Queens, New York City.

  • In the backstage of Jackson Heights' intensely diversified social pattern, the presence of young mid-class people isn't a rarity anymore. Relocating from upscaled areas of Manhattan they can still afford local rising prices. Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, New York City.

  • Traditional Indian clothing in the windows of a shop in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York

  • Parents pick up their children up from school in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Roosevelt Av. with its double layered circulation parts the heart of Queens. From Jackson Hts to Corona up to Flushing, the boulevard is the spine of an interconnection of micro enclaves. Spanish is the most used language. New York City.

  • Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Parents pick up their children up from school in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Typical loud dresses in a Mexican shop window. These dresses are used mostly to celebrate the girls' 15th anniversary, baptisms or even weddings. Also they used to be sent to relatives in their country of origin as gifts. Roosevelt Av. / Elmhurst, Queens, New York.

  • Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue station. Queens, New York.

  • Latin American community is tied to Christian religion. Corona, Queens, New York.

  • La Gran Uruguaya is a cafeteria in Jackson Heights which is very popular between the local Uruguayan community. Queens, New York.

  • Shop windows in Roosevelt Av. / Elmhurst, Queens, New York.

  • Roosevelt Avenue, Corona Plaza, Queens, New York.

  • Roosevelt Avenue. Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

  • Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Av. subway station. Queens, New York.

Roosevelt Avenue parts the heart of Queens, the huge borough of New York City. From Jackson Heights to Corona up to Flushing, the avenue is the spine of an interconnection of micro enclaves. Mexicans, Colombians, Ecuadorian, Indians, Filipinos, Bangladeshi, Koreans and others from around 100 communities share and, at the same time, divide South and North urban zones.

The Bloomberg’s legacy acceleration, de Blasio to curb

The Roosevelt axis with its double layered circulation (express F and 7,E,R,M trains / road) quickly connects to Manhattan beside distributing the local flows. Despite being traditionally host for prostitution, drug dealing and all activities aimed to exploit illegal immigrants and workers, the area shadowed by the F and 7 train tracks is today subject to a remodulation, being accelerated by Bloomberg’s administration legacy: rezoning of Western (Long Island City) and Eastern (Flushing) poles will make place for tall commercial, congress and residential spaces and will squeeze in a vise one of the densest commercial corridors in the city, pushed predominantly from the already “Manhattanized” Long Island City.
The development of a BID (Business Improvement District) for all the blocks in between was started, but later shortened by 10 blocks, cutting out those from 104st onwards. And it is still a target for critics by a number of business owners who fear they’ll be soon priced out of the neighborhood.
In the meantime, the interposed de Blasio’s call to curb luxury developments, preserve affordable housing and protect tenants, focuses on a large scale (all the 5 boroughs) and is a long term plan (ten years). It must deal and harmonize with an opposite process which has been already drafted and with a narrower focus.

A “counter white flight” and domino effect

The BID is still mostly on paper and difficult to decipher hence to anticipate its major consequences is not yet possible. However quietly the initial symptoms and changes are already noticeable to the keen observer.
Few of the old retail spaces along the Avenue have been cleared to make way for new grocery stores, Rite Aid, Duane Reade, fancy PCs and phones stores, branded shoes stores, modern style cafes and condos.
Also most disadvantaged immigrants are now being pushed out as leases expire: rent signs hanging in the street became the litmus test to determine how prices raised fast over a short time on the residential bid.
On the other hand, the area is being subject to an increasing influx of mid-class young families, singles, professionals relocating on their turn from those areas of Manhattan that more suffered from an intensive upscaling process. A sort of “counter white flight”, that induces a domino effect, from Manhattan (occasionally passing also through Astoria, Roosevelt Island or Slope) down to the bottom of Queens.

Breaking in the new communities

Newcomers find convenient to live in the area at just few express stops commute from Midtown and Downtown. They find all kind of facilities right in their neighbourhood, schools included, which help the break up of social enclaves. They also feel relatively safe, today that’s definitely not the Bronx nor Red Hook. Breaking in new communities seems more a deal than a hurdle.
The already intensely diversified social pattern started to quietly include a white (of European ancestry) presence where in the past it was more a rarity.

New York City , USA. September / October 2014