“Since the 1920’s, city planners have dreamed of transforming Long Island City into a major urban center just five minutes by subway from midtown Manhattan on the Queens bank of the East River. In September, the City Planning Commission will vote on proposed zoning changes that would make the dream possible.”
BY “September,” we’re talking 1995, which was when the opening paragraph above was written in an article in The New York Times. These zoning changes combined with additional ones made to Court Square/Queens Plaza in 2001, were the starting point of the march to what Long Island City is today.
Like many things, it took a little longer to play out, but the end results were also much, much bigger than anticipated.
In Hunters Point, the edict above led to the Citylights tower being completed in 1998. Then came the Avalon South which opened in 2003, Avalon North in 2007, and then a new tower along Center Boulevard every year since.1 During the latter half of that period, there were also many small and medium-sized residential buildings built.
Now it’s Court Square and Queens Plaza’s turn to start sprinting after taking a few ‘tower’ baby steps since 2007.
While the ‘dream’ has been there since the 1920’s, the zoning history of LIC prior to 1995 was less than inviting from a residential standpoint. In 1961 “the area was officially declared a manufacturing district and major residential development was restricted.”
In addition to reinstating and up-sizing residential development in 1995, the zoning changes disallowed further growth in heavy manufacturing in LIC. The 2001 changes pushed this further in specifically attempting to turn the Court Square/Queens Plaza area into one of “mixed use.”
After that, capitalism took hold and the rest is history.
//THE Bus to Rikers – there are a lot of things that go on in LIC that many of us are not privy to. The Q100 bus from Queens Plaza to Rikers is probably one of them. For those interested, there’s a photo exhibit about those on the bus by Salvador Espinoza that’s coming to Queens Collective. It starts December 10 with an opening party there.
Zoning Goal: Remake Long Island City – original New York Times article from 1995
Court Square Rezoning: Executive Summary from 2001 – mixed-use subdistricts and a map of Court Square w/ hopeful developments which looks quaint by what’s happening currently
Photo Series About Bus to Rikers Starts December 10 in LIC – it shows the effects of mass incarceration on others
Sunbather on Jackson Ave Gets Greenery – just in time for winter
54-Story Eagle Electric Development Rises to 18th Floor on Jackson – soon Jackson Ave will be like the canyon of heroes. Parades?
MTA’s Vintage Subway Cars Appear to Spread Holiday Cheer – the annual event will occur on Sunday, December 4/11/18 between 10am and 4pm and can be picked up at Queens Plaza
NYC Has Half as Many Diners as it Did 20 Years Ago – but the Court Square Diner, profiled, still stands
Post-It Note Nation at Vernon/Jackson Station – let it all out
- approximately, and until this year [↩]