Sunday, January 4, 2009

Living in Queens

The Times has an interesting article today on the melting pot of Queens. Specifically, the parts that haven't so much melted yet. Being the most of ethnically diverse county in the United States, you can walk the streets of Queens and hear any number of languages. Restaurants are the most easily penetrated layer for outsiders exploring the neighborhoods.

The article's references to both the Korean nightspot and the Irish pub ring fairly true to my own experience in the borrough. True, here in Astoria things are generally less closed off than in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights or Flushing, but it is still very easy to become an outsider in even the most basic of transactions. When looking for an apartment a year ago, most of the discussions between my realtor and my now landlady were held in Greek, leaving me only to smile and nod. 

While it means the world outside my door is sometimes difficult to translate, I love it here. When the World Cup is played, there is a loud celebration in the streets no matter who wins a game. Because, chances are, that ethnic group has a sizable population in the area. The tide of gentrification is slowly moving into Queens, perhaps slowed by the current economic crunch. I wonder how different these neighborhoods will look in a decade, hoping they don't lose too much of what makes them astonishing. In the meanwhile, I'm very grateful that I live here now.

On that note, Scounting NY posted some fantastic pictures of Fort Totten. A fascinating look at what once was in Bayside, and worth taking a look at before there is nothing left.

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