Queens is what New York City used to me. Or at least that's what long-time New Yorkers tell me. The mixture of cultures and socioeconomic statuses makes it an incredibly diverse place. I'd argue that it's the last in New York with this kind of blend, as wealth steadily creeps outward into areas that were once melting pots.
The 7 train, Northern Queens' main artery is like a world tour. The first few stops get you to Long Island City, a rapidly gentrifying area that's now comparable to Upper Manhattan and the nicer parts of Brooklyn in terms of culture and price. It's starting to share their reputation as the "Manhattan that's not Manhattan." Further out are many mostly Hispanic neighborhoods. In Jackson Heights there's a large South Asian population, and downtown Flushing is predominately Chinese and Korean.
Flushing Chinatown is my neighborhood, and I love it. It's safe. It's affordable. It's clean. It has a big city feel, but small town amenities. Just a 15-minute walk (or 10-minute bus ride) from Main Street are parks and leafy residential areas.
And since it's a Chinatown on par with the one in Manhattan (some actually argue it's better: more authentic and affordable) the food and culture are unrivaled.
Today was the 16th annual Lunar New Year parade down Main Street from about 11 AM to 12:30 PM. It was freezing cold, but I headed out to see (and hear!) the event. It was hard not to get excited seeing the costumes and floats and hearing the drums and marching band. The parade was full of both the expected, like dragon dancers and red and gold costumed marchers, and the unexpected, like the Mormons!
Keep reading for more pictures!
|They had huge poppers that sprayed confetti everywhere.|
|Dancers and drummers getting ready for the parade.|
|It's good luck to touch the dragons. I did not know this until I got shouldered out of the way so someone could touch the dragon.|