OK, I have a confession to make: I did not know Long Island City before we signed the lease on our current apartment. It was not the first time we were posted to NY, we thought we knew about the neighborhoods in general and we had a pretty good idea that we absolutely did not want to commute to work for more than, maybe, 15 minutes. Add the fact that our son who was going to UNIS for his last two years of High School so we could not be bothered to look for anywhere outside of Manhattan.
Enter the last few months of our posting in Brasilia, where a colleague who was visiting from NY casually mentions this new neighborhood where he and his family lives. “How do you get to work?”, asked my husband. “ I take the ferry across and walk up a few minutes”, he said. “How does your daughter get to school?” I prompted. “She takes the ferry and walks down a few minutes”, he said. So when we had our confirmation of the move number seven, it was the first neighborhood we looked into for apartments. Lo and behold, we found one within 30 minutes.
So we got to know Long Island City and particularly Hunters Point after our move. I learned that this was initially a industrial neighborhood that supplied Manhattan with resources for the last two centuries. As time went by and the heavy industry relocate out of the city and zoning laws changed, a mostly residential neighborhood emerged a stone’s throw from Manhattan.
Let me cut to the chase and tell you what keeps me in this neighborhood for the last three and a half years: The unbeatable views . The waterfront. The parks along the waterfront. The ferry. A kid and pet friendly neighborhood, with the feel of a neighborhood. More bang for your buck. My baguette at the French bakery costs 2.50, not 3.90. The 7 train. One stop to Grand Central and international culinary heaven every 2 stops. No kidding. My in-unit washer and dryer. Life changer. 10pm loads? Bring them on! More space. A comparable apartment would cost me 25% to 40% more In Manhattan. What’s the cost of a metrocard compared to that.
And here are the things that irritate me about this neighborhood: Ever rising rent. Seems like people are onto our secret and are flocking to the neighborhood. Lack of street parking. The 7 train on the weekends with its perpetual service changes. But overall the rent hikes that makes this place more gentrified by the minute.
Still I love this neighborhood and will stay here until it’s time for us to pack up yet again and go to our following posting. Why should I move if this is the image I wake up to every single day?
By Banu Chediek