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    Long Island City: art and design a stone's throw from Manhattan

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    Joel Fulleda

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    This "suburb" of New York has come a long way. From a purely industrial center, Long Island City it has turned like the best of the swans into a vibrant and lively center, full of art galleries, museums and even fashion, cinema and painting ateliers. However, without losing its typical face: the buildings that characterize it, dating back to the end of the 800th century and the beginning of the 900th century, have been carefully restored and (re) brought to new life.

    Long Island City, a suburb of Queens, is also a wonderful patchwork of restaurants, trendy and vintage shops, nightclubs and theaters. A destination perhaps apparently less sparkling than Manhattan, but no less interesting. On the contrary.


    • Where is it and how to get there
    • To see
      • Gantry Plaza State Park
      • Queensboro bridge
      • Museums and historic buildings
    • Where to eat
    • Is sleeping in Long Island City affordable?
    • Is Long Island City dangerous?

    Where is it and how to get there

    Long Island City, located east of Manhattan and close to the East River, covers an area of ​​approximately 218 hectares. Reaching it is simple (and overall fast), whether you arrive from the airport or for those who leave Manhattan.

    From the New York JFK International Airport you can choose between 7 solutions to reach Long Island City: train, subway, bus, taxi, rental car, limousine or shuttles. Here you will find the most comfortable (and economical).

    • Train + subway: about 36 minutes, with 1 change. From JFK Terminal 4, take the JFK Airtrain (one runs every 10 minutes), get off at Jamaica AirTrain station. Then take underground line E (MTA), Sutphin Blvd - Archer Av - JFK Airport stop, direction World Trade Center and get off at Court Square Station. Total cost of the trip about € 7.
    • Taxi: starting from 30 minutes (the time varies according to the departure time). Taxi rank outside each airport terminal. Cost of the ride, between € 60 and € 80 (to which a tip of about 10% of the total amount must be added).

    If you prefer to rely on a private shuttle service (also shared to save a little) you can take a look at the link below.

    Private transfers from New York Airport

    To reach Long Island City from Manhattan I talked about it in more detail (reporting the travel times from the main attractions of New York) in the section of the article dedicated to where to sleep in the area.

    To see

    Art community, cultural polychromy, sublime panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline. And then again museums, creative activities, art galleries, high-level shopping and unexpected gastronomic experiences. Long Island City is a stage in itself, to be taken into consideration if you want to discover, and experience, the cool but definitely side cheaper than New York. Here is a guide to all the unmissable must-haves, to mark on your diary.

    Gantry Plaza State Park

    More than 48 square meters of greenery, this city park nestled along the banks of the river is a must-see in Long Island City. Much loved by locals, who come here for strolling, picnicking, reading a book, the park is perfect for photography enthusiasts which here will have a privileged all-round view of midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building and the United Nations Building.

    Among the points to be photographed, moreover, not to be missed are the two large "towers" that bear the inscription in huge letters "Long Island" which, at the time when the city was an industrial suburb, served as loading and unloading cars for wagons and barges that they traveled from Queens to Manhattan. Another must-have is thesign of Pepsi Cola, huge and cheeky, as well as one of the most photographed and sought after spots in the park, it has recently risen to the rank of "historic place" in New York. Instagrammable places aside, however, Gantry Plaza State Park is also a hotbed of events and concerts, as well as a kind of open-air movie set, as movies, TV series and commercials are often shot here.

    After a relaxing tour of the park, it may be a good idea to cool off a bit. Maybe sipping some excellent craft beer. One place near the Gantry Plaza State Park that is worth a stop is here Rockaway Brewing Company. Born from the homely passion of two friends, Ethan and Marcus, who initially brewed beer in their backyard, this place is one of the top addresses in the city. Housed in an industrial garage dotted with picnic tables and colorful stools, Rockaway Brewing Company serves beers with unusual flavors.

    To order: the Summer Shandy, a mix of beer and fresh lemonade. Heavenly drink for just $ 7.
    Recommended for: those who love crowded clubs, full of locals.
    Not recommended for: snobs.

    Queensboro bridge

    Another New York icon, this connecting bridge between Queens and Manhattan opened in the early 900s (and therefore one of the oldest in NYC) has seen the passage of carriages and cars, runners and directors, Hollywood stars and ordinary tourists. . Also known as the 59th Street Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge spans Roosevelt Island and is the first access to Manhattan for runners on the New York marathon.

    A real star, it has been the set of films (and posters), as well as sensational musical successes. Just think of the masterpiece of Woody Allen “Manhattan”, with Diane Keaton and Woody Allen who, sitting on a bench, talk while looking at this bridge. Or the hit “Feelin 'Groovy”, by Simon and Garfunkel, inspired by the Queensboro Bridge. To appreciate it to the fullest, it is worth wearing comfortable shoes and crossing it on foot. There are in fact cycle-pedestrian paths on both sides that allow you to stop, occasionally, to take spectacular photographs.

    If you want to walk it, expect about 30 minutes of walking to cross it from one side to the other.

    Museums and historic buildings

    Here is a selection of Long Island City's top historic buildings and museums.

    Sculpture Center

    First of all, it should be noted that it is a anomalous museum. Do not expect static collections, but rather works that tell, in progress, the development and novelties in the contemporary sculptural panorama. Founded in the 20s, housed in what was once a tram repair shop, today the Sculpture Center is a showcase for emerging artists, both national and international.

    Open Monday and Thursday from 11 to 18, the cost of the entrance ticket is, as for some museums in New York, at the discretion of the visitor. Suggested contribution: 10 $.

    Long Island City Court House

    One of those buildings whose stones, undoubtedly, speak. Criminal court first, then county court, sheriff's office, until it becomes what it is today: the headquarters of the Queens Supreme Court. Built in 1874, destroyed by a fire, put back in order, today the building presents a mix of styles: from the English neo-Renaissance to the neoclassical. A triumph of limestone, metal, ceramic tiles.

    Two of the garages currently part of the structure were once used as prisons, with all the legends and stories attached and connected to the intended use. Finally, the Long Island City Courthouse is part of the historic and prestigious buildings of the city of New York.

    MoMA Ps1

    Contemporary art museum, it is one of the oldest in NYC. As you can guess from the name it is a branch of the MoMA which is located in Manhattan. It does not have permanent exhibitions, but only temporary ones. This is why, in its formulation, it is an artistic pole of studied improvisation.

    The MoMa Ps1 is housed in a building built in 1892 and presents, among other exhibitions, collections dedicated to hip-hop, choreographic dance, emerging artists, new genres. The brand new and already hyper-celebrated restaurant inside the Museum has been managed for a few months by the famous chef Mina Stone, in collaboration with the Greek artist Alex Eagleton, who oversaw the design. The result is a union of art and cuisine, including dishes with a typical Mediterranean flavor, strictly seasonal ingredients and references to the past, but with modern touches.

    Saint Mary’s Church

    Founded in 1868, originally housing a school, the Church of Santa Maria di LIC is a temple clad in red bricks, with a huge central cone-shaped bell tower. Destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times, it is worth a visit especially for its splendid organ.

    A perfect example of a hybrid instrument, dating back to 1894, the organ as it is admired today is a mixture of ancient and modern. A feature that is actually the common thread of the whole church, starting from its facade, in the Gothic style, without actually being one, wisely (re) created with only the use of bricks and humble materials.

    Where to eat

    • The Burger Garage: for burger lovers and Co., this is the place-to-be! Voted "Best Burger in Queens", located a stone's throw from MoMa Ps1, here you can go wild with succulent menus, hot dogs, chicken wings, grilled cheeses and the inevitable shakes. At more than reasonable prices, starting at $ 11.
    • Penthouse 808: it will appeal to those who want to always feel at the top. Located on the top floor of The Ravel Hotel, with spectacular views of the city, Manhattan and Queensboro Bridge, this restaurant is one of the chicest in Long Island City. It offers dishes and cocktails inspired by Hawaii and Asia, based on fish, but also on meat. The must-have cocktail? The Volcanic Tiki, served inside a totem pole. Dress code: smart casual. Price per person, excluding drinks, starting from $ 31.

    Is sleeping in Long Island City affordable?

    Choosing a hotel in Long Island City can be a win-win, even in budget terms, without sacrificing convenience, elegance and comfort. Hotel, b / b, and guesthouse prices are typically lower than in other Manhattan neighborhoods. Also, plus not to be forgotten, Long Island City is well connected to the main attractions of the Big Apple.

    Here are some examples using the subway:

    • Da LIC a Times Square: take the line 7 at Hunters Point Av., direction 34 St. - 11 Av., and get off at Times Sq - 42 St. Estimated travel time about 10 minutes.
    • Da LIC a Central Park: one of the various possible options is to take the line E at Court Square-23 St Station change at 7 Avenue Station, get on the line B and get off at 72 Street Station, which is near Strawberry Fields. Estimated travel time about 20 minutes.
    • Da LIC a Freedom tower (One World Trade Center): take the line E from Court Square-23 St Station and get off at the World Trade Center stop. Journey time about 25 minutes
    • From LIC to the ferry harnesses for the Statue of Liberty: one of the possible options is to take the line 7 at Court Square Station, change at Grand Central-42 Street Station onto the line 5 up to Bowling Green. Estimated travel time: about 30 minutes.

    To see the recommended hotels in the area, I invite you to read our article on where to sleep in New York and in particular the section dedicated to Long Island City. For more general advice on the various types of accommodation in the city, I refer you to our dedicated page which you can access by clicking on the link below.

    Our tips on accommodation in New York

    Is Long Island City dangerous?

    Finally, all that remains is to provide an honest answer to a question that surely many will have asked themselves. Long Island City is, globally speaking, a neighborhood absolutely safe, like most of the New York City suburbs. Obviously, as with any destination, common sense rules apply: avoid wandering with too much cash, do not show off gold and valuables, do not frequent the dimly lit areas along the river after a certain hour. Advice that is valid, as mentioned, for any other destination in the world.

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