Ah, Queens! The borough you turn to when you’re priced out of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Kidding. Queens is like the middle child of New York City’s five boroughs, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are some reasons why Queens is a borough worth exploring.
1. The name Queens refers to an actual queen.
Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II of Britain. It’s surprising that there is anything named in her honor, even a faraway former British colony, as Catherine wasn’t exactly beloved in Britain. The Protestant royal court always viewed the devout Catholic queen with suspicion, at one time even accusing her of being involved in a plot to poison King Charles II. While Charles constantly advocated for her, it didn’t help that he took several mistresses, which she viewed as an insult. Aside from all the drama, Catherine is credited with making tea-drinking a phenomenon in Britain.
2. In terms of land mass, Queens is by far the largest NYC borough.
But population-wise, it ranks second, with 2.3 million residents compared to Brooklyn’s 2.6 million.
3. Queens is NYC’s most ethnically diverse borough, which is saying a lot because this NYC we’re talking about.
Highlighting this, the 7 train, which runs through many Queens neighborhoods, is nicknamed the ‘International Express’ because of the various ethnic enclaves it passes through.
4. Navigating Queens is hard!
The Queens street naming system is made up of logic that only its residents seem to understand. In several parts of the borough the street numbers sort of repeat. For instance, instead of 68th Ave being followed by 69th Ave on the next block, you’ll find 68th Ave being followed by 68th St, 68th Rd, 68th Dr, and then 69th Ave. And this only happens to some street numbers! Confused? I broke down in detail why this happens in this article for 6sqft. It also explains how to decode Queens addresses.
5. Both of NYC’s airports are located in Queens.
In the southern part of Queens, near Jamaica Bay, you’ll find John F. Kennedy International Airport. It’s the busiest international airport in North America. Aside from the new TWA Hotel, there aren’t many frills to this airport, but it gets the job done. As for LaGuardia Airport in the northern part of the borough… Joe Biden is far from the only person who thinks of this airport as a third-world country. To be fair, LaGuardia is making some improvements, but it has a long way to go.
6. In Queens, the dead outnumber the living.
According to the New York Times, five million people are buried within the borough’s 29 cemeteries. Not only does Queens have the most cemeteries in New York City; it has the largest cemetery in the United States, Calvary Cemetery.
7. An absurd number of hip hop artists hail from Queens.
LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Nas, Nicki Minaj, Run-D.M.C., and so many more artists that enrich the hip hop scene come from the mean streets of Queens. Anyone have any theories why? Is there something in the water?
8. Spiderman is a Queensite (or whatever you call a person from this borough).
He grew up in the quiet, bucolic neighborhood of Forest Hills.
9. There are a lot of fascinating things to be found in Queens.
Queens has not one, but two abandoned forts; it has an Olympic-sized pool at a run-of-the-mill public park; it has NYC’s last remaining traditional farm; and you can find the most mind-blowing miniature replica of the entirety of New York City at the Queens Museum.
There are so many other interesting things to learn and find in Queens. I hope this introductory article has piqued your interest in this often overlooked borough. Let me know what you think in the comment section AND please let me know what’s the official term for someone from Queens. Is it a Queensite? Is it a Queenser? Queensian?
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