City Storiez

Queens, NY: From QueensBridge to South Side Jamaica

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The Short Queens New York Ghetto Story

A unique borough of New York City as Queens may not have the history like Harlem or the reputation of Brooklyn and the South Bronx, but the true identity of Queens can be seen from the housing projects of Astoria to South Side Jamaica.

An iconic area of the NYC, whether it is rappers representing the borough like Nas, 50 Cent, and Run DMC, along with others ranging from Mobb Deep to Kool G Rap, or the days when the streets had a hold on the New York City’s communities with Queens being no exception as many remember the Supreme Team and/or Fat Cat.

Despite being part of the city of New York, Queens is much different as the homes were built during the city’s later years compared to the other boroughs, so at times Queens can have an appearance of a suburb.

While there is poverty, gangs, crime and some parts of Queens that some may consider as dangerous, the borough is not viewed as a bad area or even as urban as boroughs like Bronx and Brooklyn, but there are two main sections of Queens that are still deep within the urban neighborhoods of New York City.


The housing projects of the Queens New York ghetto

In the northern section of the borough within the streets of the Queens New York ghetto are specific neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, and Astoria, mainly just the projects of Queensbridge, Ravenswood and AQ, as well few isolated neighborhoods like parts of Flushing, Ditmars Boulevard, which began populated with people of Mexican descent, or the Woodside Projects.

This section is one of the most diverse areas in the city, with Latinos, preferably Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, African Americans, Asians, and West Indians all living in their own separate sections, sometimes side by side.

It is easily to not question the reputation of this part of Queens as there are neighborhoods like Queensbridge and Lefrak City, which have been well known for years, and the influx of multiple nationalities, racial groups and culture backgrounds that have created a number of gang affiliations within the communities.

Short Queens New York Neighborhoods History

Long before Queens communities became very diverse, this borough, which was one of the last New York City boroughs to be fully constructed, saw a growth in the population as subways and bridges connected Queens to the other boroughs, especially Manhattan, during the early 1900s.

Following the second World War, an era between the 1940s and the 1960s, African Americans began to relocate into a few of Queens neighborhoods, like Corona and the community’s surrounding areas.

After the arrival of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and later Dominicans, followed into the relocation into the urban neighborhoods of Queens New York, but not until the years around the 1980s did the communities, which expand from Jackson Heights to Elmhurst to Corona, truly become their current form of diversity.

Continue Breakdown of the Queens New York Ghetto

Between the end of the mid-20th Century (mid-1900s) and the beginning of late 20th Century, Jackson Heights gained a large Columbian immigrant population, along with other Latin America immigrants. With the arrival of immigrants, Colombians and the Cartel in particular, came much illicit activities in the large section of Queens. From money laundering operations to prostitution to heavy narcotics sales, the region of Jackson Heights, as well Corona was a haven during the 70s, 80s and 90s.

While the areas around Astoria and Corona are very diverse, the vast majority of the Queens County black population lives in communities that are south of the Hempstead train line.  The southern part of Queens New York neighborhoods has more traditional African American communities, like Hollis, Queens Village (Shadyville), SouthSide Jamaica, West Side Merrick, Laurelton, Rochdale, and neighboring areas.

While the Jackson Heights region of Queens was a haven for Colombians, further south in areas like Hollis or South Jamaica were notorious for similar reasons, but much different. Colombians from Jackson Heights were not as well documented as the likes of the Supreme and Prince, Fat Cat and Pappy Mason, the Feurtado Brothers, or J. W. Corley.

Similar to other communities of New York, this area was not an original black community until the arrival of African Americans during the 1950s, if not before, as many placed their residency inside neighborhoods like St. Albans, around Linden Boulevard, and South Jamaica.

Eventually the community further itself beyond the two areas of St. Albans and South Jamaica, especially during the 1960s and 1970s as many would black families would relocate from other parts of the city, as well relocating from different communities in other states, into Hollis and Laurelton.


The housing projects of the Queens New York ghetto

With the increase of West Indians during the 1980s, the area became even larger as it would become one of New York City’s few predominantly all-black communities, along with Harlem, and the many sections of Brooklyn.

While this article briefly depicts the areas from Corona to South Side Jamaica, there is another section of Queens, a community that can be considered as the once Coney Island of Queens, a former beach community that has drastically changed over the years, Far Roc (Rockaway).

Isolated from the rest of Queens, this area, and nearby neighborhoods of Edgemere, Arverne, or Rockaway Park and the Hammel Houses, is filled with low income apartment buildings and high-rise public housing projects, while developing one of the fiercest reputations in the city.

While gentrification is occurring across the city, Queens New York’s urban neighborhoods is not facing that kind of pressure as Harlem or Brooklyn, which is leading many to be relocated from a community that they once called home.

*Feature Image: a katz /

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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.