Home > New York City, Queens, Queens Blvd., Queens culture > What Makes Us Unique

What Makes Us Unique

I recently ran across this very interesting article in New York magazine which revealed how the City has been changing over the past couple of decades. We all probably know it already, but it was still interesting to sift through the data in the article about the changing demographics.

Basically, it says that the “white flight” of the 70’s and 80’s, which saw the city’s white population flee the city to the suburbs, has begun to reverse itself. For the first time since those years, whites comprise the majority of the population of Manhattan.

As a child of the suburbs, who moved to Manhattan in my early 20’s, and then out to Brooklyn, and then Queens, my reaction to this is “What took them so long to figure out that the City is a better place to live than the suburbs?” The suburbia where I grew up was a cultural wasteland. The city was just a short LIRR ride away, but it might as well have been a world away. There was so much more to see and do, and so much more energy. The City was alive.  The suburbs, where I grew up anyway, were pretty dead.

What does Manhattan’s changing demographics mean for Forest Hills and our part of Queens? Well, it’s already happening — with Manhattan and other areas of the City already gentrified, more and more people priced out of these areas are looking for the few affordable areas left, and Forest Hills is one of them.

But while Manhattan is now becoming increasingly homogeneous — it’s amazing to think that is possible, but it is — we here in Forest Hills and the rest of Queens have a great, special advantage: our diversity.

As many have been forced out of the Manhattan market because of the high rents, we have begun to benefit. It’s no coincidence that Forest Hills has suddenly begun to see some great new restaurants and shops open in the past couple of years, and with the current trends this will only continue, and yes, I think so even despite the economy. New York City is a unique place and its resurgence continues unabated. Forest Hills is feeling the effects of that.

We are also lucky in another way — there are entire swaths of the area that await redevelopment, or at least improvement. Both sides of Queens Blvd. east towards Kew Gardens is one example. It’s not surprising that one of the best new restaurants to open in the past couple of years, Tuscan Hills, chose a location there to do so. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess the proprietors got a pretty sweet deal. And other fine restaurants have begun to open near it.

As Forest Hills, like Manhattan, continues to change, I only hope we are able to harness the one thing that really makes us special — our diversity. If Manhattan’s fate is to be an urbanized, upper class Disney World, then hopefully we can corner the market on what makes New York City really special: its amazing mix of cultures.

  1. Anonymous
    September 26, 2010 at 12:35 AM

    Gotta disagree. I prefer Forest Hills because it is upper middle class and it is not “diverse” like the other Third World communities in Queens.

  2. JCA
    September 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    To Anonymous – I beg to differ: “…not diverse like the other Third World communities in Queens” does not mean Forest Hills doesn’t have the elements of those other communities. Take a walk down 108th St and you encounter the “stans” (Uzbekhistanis, Kazikstanis, Georgians) of old Russia with their ill-bred manners & customs and rude behavior. The multi-national inhabitants of the McMansions are without doubt arrogant and ill-mannered as well. These are just a sampling of the people who live in our neighborhood among the Garden-dwelling “old money” families. Forest Hills is not an upper middle class neighborhood because that implies that the neighborhood is populated by only well-behaved, socially-civilized people. It very much is not anymore and has not been for decades, alas…

  3. September 26, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    “Well-behaved, socially-civilized people” who apparently have no problem pre-judging entire groups of people, most of whom I am sure they don’t know and have never met, alas…

  4. JCA
    September 27, 2010 at 3:51 AM

    Touché, point taken. I responded in haste and with general distaste to the term “Third World communities” and came across badly.

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