Long Island CIty Comes Into its Own Minutes fom Manhattan

 There was a time when Long Island City’s waterfront area wasn’t exactly a hot residential neighborhood. With its looming industrial buildings  with a few small residential buildings thrown together near the East River, the  area was more On the Waterfront than Sex and the City.  

 Today, that has most definitely changed. Long Island City is thriving with condo  buildings, stores and restaurants. According to Eric Benaim, a realtor who  specializes in Long Island City properties and who also lives in the area,  people from Manhattan are being drawn there for value and proximity to  Manhattan.  

 “I think it is the best location,” says Benaim, who opened his own agency, Modern Spaces, in Long Island City last  year. “A lot of people—Manhattanites— think it’s Queens, and the only experience they have with Queens is going through it to  go to the airport. Then they take the 7 train or the E or V train, and they see  it’s literally one stop. Four or five minutes on the subway line, and you’re in a real peaceful, quiet area, and you still have a lot of the amenities  that Manhattan buildings offer.”  

 Long Island City History

 According to the Greater Astoria Historical Society’s website, Long Island City is the largest community in Queens, with some  250,000 residents. Algonquin Native Americans lived there until Dutch farmers,  drawn by its fertile land, settled there in the 1860s. In 1839, a village was  founded by Steven Halsey at Hallet’s Cove, and ferry service to Manhattan started shortly thereafter. In 1870, Long  Island City was consolidated from the village of Astoria and several hamlets,  including Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills,  Steinway, Bowery Bay and Middletown. Long Island City was its own city (hence,  Long Island City) until it became part of New York City in 1898.  

 The construction of a Long Island Rail Road Terminal at Hunters Point in 1861  led to the area becoming an industrial center during the Civil War. Industry  grew through the consolidation of Long Island City, with gas plants and  factories built along the East River. According to the historical society, Long  Island City had the highest concentration of industry in the U.S. by the end of  the 19th century.  

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4 Comments

  • Nice article - but your time line is off. Anyone familiar with LIC/Hunters Point would probably say that the area's residential real estate boom began in 1997 when the area's first co-op opened, the 42-story 522 unit Citylights building on the waterfront. The boom was well underway by the time the Gantry condo opened, one block away from Citylights. quote: "Benaim says the first new condo to open in the area is the Gantry in the Hunters Point section. Located at Fifth Street and 48th Avenue, the 47-unit Gantry helped start Long Island City’s real residential boom when it opened about three years ago."
  • Thriving retail on Vernon? Who is Benaim kidding? There are so many unsightly empty storefronts that no one is renting because the brokers have overhyped the neighborhoods and landlords are charging too much rent. Many businesses on Vernon struggle and some are having a very difficult time surviving because the foot traffic does not measure up against the overhead. Go ask them before you start a business there. And forget about trying to get a full liquor license.
  • Yes a good article, especially the history, but as noted above the timeline is off. LIC has been talked about as a redevelopment play for office and residential since at least the 1980's (Citigroup Tower). Citylights opened in 1997 and started the residential boom...and the article should have mentioned the recent office devleopment as well as the major developments that have happened and are planned for the Queens Plaza area. But overall nice work.
  • The article doesn't talk many new parents in the LIC and how Little Ones and LIC Kids serve them.