Newtown Creek, by Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, image by Postdlf.

Baisley Pond Park, image by Peter Greenberg.

Alley Pond Creek.

Not very original, but Queens is the only place I could think of having written about, and it’s not exactly the place most people think of when they think of New York City. It might not be as popular or well-known as Manhattan or Brooklyn, but it’s got a lot of beautiful sights and a lot of history, actually has a lot of houses instead of being almost completely gut-loaded with apartments, and is fairly affordable. A lot of people live in Queens because they can’t afford Manhattan, even if the commute is a bit longer.

Queens is the easternmost borough, the largest in size, and the next-most populated. Though the Native Americans had been there for thousands of years, the white man didn’t start settling till 1635. It became a borough in 1898, and today has many diverse neighbourhoods, such as Kew Garden Hills, Far Rockaway, Jamaica, Flushing, Utopia, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Forest Hills, Astoria, Elmhurst, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Woodhaven, Rockaway Beach, Breezy Point.

New York City is known for its ethnically diverse population and being a home for immigrants, and Queens is no exception. Some of its many peoples include Iranians, Peruvians, Columbians, Chinese, Irish, Italians, Greeks, Guyanese, Filipinos, Tibetans, Koreans, Romanians, Ecuadorians, and Salvadorans.

Alley Pond Environmental Center, image by gailf548, source Oakland Lake.

Trinity Lutheran Church, image by MrShah2012.

Fort Totten Officers’ Club.

Queens appears in a few chapters of my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest, and is the home of Masha Ozerova, one of the troublesome counselors Tatyana works with her first summer at Father Spiridon’s camp. Tatyana works with two Mashas and two Katyas, and one of each eventually turns out to be so fanatical, self-righteous, and impudent that Father Spiridon fires them and sends them home before camp is over.

For July Fourth 1938, Tatyana, Nikolay, and their friends go to Rockaway Beach and Rockaways’ Playland. Tatyana, who’s spent the past year thoroughly distancing herself from her family, is furious that her visiting younger brother Fedya and his girlfriend Novomira tag along and are immediately accepted by her friends. On Novomira’s insistence, they see a parade before heading to the beach and amusement park.

A fair bit of Chapter 51, “The World of Tomorrow,” which concludes Part II, is set in Queens, as Tatyana and Nikolay honeymoon by the World’s Fair. They spend some time at nearby Rockaway Beach in between touring the massive fairgrounds every day for eight days. I had so much fun researching and writing the World’s Fair sections of this chapter. I had to resist temptation to write about every single exhibit, ride, restaurant, show, et al.

Commanding Officer’s House in Fort Totten.

Rikers Island.

Queens has a lot of historic districts and landmarks, old churches, former mansions, historic buildings, and museums. They also have a botanical garden, theatres, art galleries, and the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc., a large outdoor graffiti showcase. Many famous jazz singers and musicians hailed from or lived in Queens, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Charlie Parker.

Graffiti by Queensboro Plaza in the Long Island City neighbourhood.

Since Queens is on the Eastern edge of Long Island, it’s got a lot of beaches. Rockaway Beach is the most famous, but Queens also has Breezy Point Tip, Fort Tilden Beach, and Jacob Riis Beach. From 1902-85, Queens had the Rockaways’ Playland amusement park. It was nothing compared to nearby Coney Island, but it had a lot of great rides while it lasted.

Gantry Plaza State Park, image by Joe Mabel (Jmabel), source Gantry Plaza State Park Long Island City 01.

St. Irene Chrysovalantou Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Some of the characters in my WIP may be moving to Queens after the War, for the chance to have real houses and yards for their children. It’s so much less congested than Manhattan, and it’s nice to have your own home instead of living in a high-rise or small apartment. Queens also has one of the most élite colleges of the CUNY system, and a venerable library with the highest circulation of any U.S. library.

Rockaway Beach.

Hell Gate Bridge and Triborough Bridge, image by Sfoskett.

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17 thoughts on “Queens, U.S.A.

  1. I’m pretty sure I’ve visited Queens … but it’s been a while since 1998 and it was all a bit of a blur back then. We only spent 24 hours in NYC.


  2. I love this post! Queens is my favorite part of NYC and is seriously underappreciated. Astoria Park is one my favorite places in the entire world. The views of Midtown are priceless.


  3. Now this is someplace that would be more accessible to me. I’ll have to check it out if I’m ever in New York City area for any length of time. Don’t know when that would be though.

    Enjoyed the tour.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog


  4. Here’s a place I could possibly visit one day. 🙂 I love the frog stone sculptors! Having a honeymoon by the World’s Fair would be neat. And touring fairgrounds everyday for eight days? How much more better could it get?


  5. We lived 3 blocks from be beach in Queens for 1.5 years–in the Rockaways that totally got decimated by hurricane Sandy. I was all kinds of worried about my buddies still living there, but everyone survived, and most have completed reconstruction on their home.

    My favorite place in all of Queens is either the Queensboro bridge, or the boardwalk that runs all the way along Rockaway beach. We have some good memories.

    True Heroes from A to Z


  6. I can’t imagine ever living in New York but if I did, by any future chance, it would be in an out-of-the-way spot much like I imagine Queens is, even if the travelling was a pain. I spent a few days in NYC a while ago. That place is a constant rush at a ridiculously frantic pace, 24/7. I don’t know how people have the time to take a breath. 🙂

    Stopping by from AZ Challenge.


  7. Yay, a city I have heard of. 🙂 Although I’ve never actually had the chance to visit. That Fort Totten Officers’ Club looks like some kind of fake gingerbread building. I bet all that research into the World’s Fair was a lot of fun.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,


  8. Cool pictures. I’ve never seen that side of New York. I’ve never been there and I’ve only heard about the big city part of it. Queens sounds like a cool place and a even cooler place to set a book in. Thanks for sharing.


  9. Good post, Carrie-Anne. I’ve never been to Queens. You’ve made it sound like a destination rather then a drive by. I agree with the comment about the gingerbread house. 🙂

    Your characters really moved around the world. 🙂


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