Stretching from the Queens East River waterfront all the way east to 51st/Hobart Street, and from the Brooklyn border at Newtown Creek north to the East River, the Long Island City area (also known to locals as Astoria) was once an epicenter of manufacturing. An electrifying art scene now serves as the heart of this once industrial neighborhood, from outdoor street art to prominent galleries, showcasing some of the best emerging and established artists from the world over. Paired with a raft of destination eateries, boutiques, and performance venues, Long Island City has become a must-visit hub of New York.
Arts and Culture
Within NYC’s borders, Long Island City’s admirable concentration of contemporary art is second only to Manhattan. On Jackson Avenue, MoMA PS1 (an affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art in Midtown) is an exhibition space rather than a collecting institution, and renowned for seeking out adventurous works by both emerging and established artists. Sculpture plays a prominent role, too, from the small, experimental SculptureCenter on Purves Street to the 1,200-square-foot curated main exhibition space at the Dorsky Gallery on 45th Avenue.
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On the East River waterfront to the north, Socrates Sculpture Park hosts large-scale installations and regular community events, including the weekly Outdoor Cinema screenings in July and August. The park’s first permanent structure, The Cubes, was completed by architect firm LOT-EK in 2018 and provides a vibrant multiuse space made from 18 recycled shipping containers.
Drinking and Dining
Pockets of trendy bars and eateries have sprung up throughout Long Island City, frequented by young professionals and local artists alike. One of the neighborhood’s most refined establishments is Bellwether, a fine-dining restaurant with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Since opening its doors in 2018, its white-washed brick interior with living moss wall has become a destination for New American food with a Mediterranean twist.
French eatery Tournesol and Michelin-starred Mexican cantina Casa Enrique are also among the area’s finest haunts. And at Michelin-recommended Mu Ramen—which started out as a pop-up restaurant before its popularity demanded it became a permanent fixture—patrons happily wait in line to sample the spicy red miso pork ramen made from a rich bone broth. Indeed, Long Island City is home to a cluster of high-end Japanese establishments, including Murasaki, Hibino, and Sushi Daizen, the latter being one of the only to offer omakase—the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose your order. And at Peruvian gem Jora, South American classics range from ceviche to juicy skirt steak with sweet plantain.
Not to be overlooked is the quiet appeal of the riverfront parks. Providing a welcome breeze during the summer months, they afford unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline. A 12-acre (5 ha) oasis located in a former Long Island City dockyard, Gantry Plaza State Park offers up views of famed landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the United Nations headquarters, while Queensbridge Park overlooks Roosevelt Island and sits alongside the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge—a nationally recognized Historic Place—that connects Long Island City to Manhattan.
Hunter’s Point South Park has recently undergone redevelopment, transforming this once abandoned space into a social and family-friendly hub. Encompassing playgrounds, fitness terraces, a waterside promenade, sculpted grasslands, a cantilevered viewing platform, and a kayak launch, the park is a new high point of Long Island City.
The neighborhood has become an exciting place for architecture and design, exemplified by various high-profile projects. The Hunters Point Community Library by Steven Holl Architects is an exposed concrete building with geometric glazed openings to allow for an open and flowing interior, while the iconic Long Island City Clock Tower is undergoing restoration as part of Handel Architects’ Queens Plaza Park Tower development, which will incorporate residential, commercial, and retail space.
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In addition, in April 2019 architects Büro Koray Duman revealed plans to significantly update the Noguchi Museum, which will result in the studio and home of American–Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi being opened up to the public for the first time.