Queens, NYC | 6 Things I Learned About Long Island City with Brooklyn Unplugged Tours

Gardens on railroad tracks in Long Island City, Queens

I’ve been looking at real estate lately. I know, I know — I’m supposed to be nomadic and free-spirited and without roots, but lately I’m craving a little stability. I’d like to be back in NYC in the fall, and I’ve been looking in any and all neighborhoods of Brooklyn to see where I should live next and even to see if I could actually buy a place. It wasn’t until recently, while on a tour with Brooklyn Unplugged Tours in Long Island City, when I started thinking I could live in Queens as well.

Friends on the waterfront in LIC

For those non-New-Yorkers reading this post, Long Island City, or LIC, is an up-and-coming pocket of the borough of Queens, right across the East River from midtown Manhattan. My blogging squad and I (One Carry On, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell, and Which Way to Somewhere) took the LIC tour with Brooklyn Unplugged Tours owner Jeff on a blazing hot Sunday in June. In addition to the LIC tour, Brooklyn Unplugged Tours offers a variety of Brooklyn tours – a Williamsburg tour, a graffiti and street art tour, and a brownstone Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO tour.

Below are 6 things I didn’t know about LIC before taking the Brooklyn Unplugged Tour:

(1) LIC is a Super Convenient Spot to Live & Visit

The MTA Subway as seen from LIC, Queens

At the Queens Plaza stop, seven different trains can take you into Manhattan in just minutes. As Jeff mentioned, while some MTA lines shut down or have delays here and there, it would be highly unlikely for you to be stranded in LIC. This is contrary to many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, which are sometimes just reachable on one line. It took Karissa, who lives near my old Gramercy apartment, just 17 minutes door-to-door to our meeting spot. For us frequent flyers, LIC is only a 20-minute car ride from LaGuardia and 35 minutes from JFK. There’s also a ferry service that will take you just one stop to midtown Manhattan.

With all that said, it does get kind of noisy right around the subway rails. There were a few times during our tour where Jeff paused for a train to pass before continuing with his helpful commentary. I’m not sure if you’d be able to hear the trains from as high up as you’d be in one of the new luxury apartment buildings, but it’s something to consider before signing a lease.

(2) LIC is Going to Look Completely Different in a Few Years

Large hotel on Queens St. and Jackson Ave., LIC Queens

The number of skyscrapers being built right now in LIC is astounding. I came home with a long list of apartment URLs as posted on the huge signs on each new building for my future apartment research. In addition to skyscrapers, since there will be so many new residents, businesses (cafés, restaurants, shops) and schools to serve those coming in are also popping up everywhere.

After the tour, we spent some time wandering around the Long Island City Flea Market which had lots of food selections and a few craft stalls as well. Two hot places I’d like to try out in the future are the speakeasy Dutch Kills – often called the best cocktail bar in Queens – and the Rockaway Brewing Company – with handcrafted beers from fresh ingredients.

(3) LIC’s Street Art is Abundant

Street art in LIC

I started getting into street art after visiting the famed Five Pointz outdoor artists’ paradise just two days before it was surprise white-washed. On our tour we passed where Five Pointz used to be, but I didn’t expect so much other street art to be in the area. We circled a huge industrial building with a variety of impressive artwork. Jeff took us around and gave us tidbits on some of the pieces and the artists who are responsible for the intense colors and themes. Jeff is very familiar with the street art community and many of his tours feature the street art of the area.

(4) The View of Manhattan from LIC is Incredible

Manhattan skyline as seen from Long Island City, Queens

Let’s be honest, the view of Manhattan from anywhere, even the Jersey turnpike, can spark emotions. Long Island City’s view of the city skyline is no different. Along the waterfront is an urban park area with gardens, picnic tables, and fields for playing sports. From here, you can even look directly down 42nd street because of LIC’s position right next to midtown.

(5) LIC Can Look Just Like Brooklyn

Brooklyn-like street in Long Island City, Queens

One of the appeals of living in Brooklyn for me is the iconic three- or four-storied brownstones with stairs and decorative railings up to the main level, the windows that jut out over the gardens begging to be sat in with a cushion and a good book, and the flowering trees lining the sidewalks. Most of LIC looks different from Brooklyn — either old-school industrial, under construction, or modern glass high-rises — with the exception of one block. The Hunters Point Historic District, on 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Streets, could be mistaken for Brooklyn. Its 47 brownstone-like-buildings though not made officially of “brownstone” were built in the latter third of the 19th century. Walking down the Avenue after being surrounded by construction elsewhere can take you back in time.

(6) LIC Has a Ton of History

Gardens on railroad tracks in Long Island City, Queens

Hunters Point Historic District isn’t the only history around. Along the waterfront, there are still railway tracks, now covered in gardens, leftover from LIC’s factory days. Across from the NYC skyline, there are also old railway cars standing up in the sky with “Long Island” written on them and the iconic Pepsi Cola sign. Brooks Restaurant on Jackson Ave boasts the year 1890 on its sign but the eatery’s full history isn’t quite known. We passed a building that was a stable back in the day which you could tell from the facade. Jeff will take you through the history of the whole neighborhood on your own tour.

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If you’re interested in finding my next apartment, whether in Brooklyn or LIC, so that I don’t have to worry about it, let a blogger know.

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Have you been to Long Island City?

What do I need to make sure I see the next time I’m there?

Tell me in the comments!

xx

Many thanks to Brooklyn Unplugged Tours for hosting us on this tour – $32 at the time of this post. Opinions are always my own. If you are interested in working with four NYC-based bloggers at once, please contact me at 10milesbehindme {at} gmail.com for more information.

6 Responses

  1. Long Island City is a favorite of mine – I’ve blogged about it numerous times. There are several microbreweries actually, and MOMA PS1 as well. There are some great restaurants too – my favorite is John Brown Smokehouse, which has a great outdoor patio decorated with street art.

    Liked by 1 person

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