Sunnyside and Long Island City East
Diverse Queens: an urban neighborhood with classic gardens and a significant ethnic/retail mix, plus an adjacent district of revamped factory buildings now home to offices, schools, and even a prison.
Sunnyside, located just a few stops from Manhattan (and even fewer from Long Island City) on the busy 7 train, is a quintessential Queens neighborhood (and an increasingly popular option for those priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn).
It's perhaps best known for Sunnyside Gardens, the landmark planned residential district of 20th-century row houses and well-tended gardens, once home to the famous urbanist Lewis Mumford. If the architecture isn't as spectacular as Brownstone Brooklyn, the tree-lined streets remain an oasis.
Beyond the Gardens, Sunnyside is a densely populated neighborhood with many handsome pre-war art deco apartment buildings. That fuels a busy street and retail life with an enormously diverse population.
Retail stores, restaurants, bars, and churches serve people from around the world, including Ireland, Romania, Korea, Peru, Turkey, Nepal, and Colombia--and, of course, the Americanized generations of previous immigrants.
Our walk around Sunnyside is complemented by what your guide thinks of as "Sunnyside West"--actually the eastern portion of Long Island City, east of the vast Sunnyside Yard.
This onetime factory and warehouse district, adjacent to residential Sunnyside, still serves some of those traditional functions, but buildings have been rehabilitated to serve as offices, several high schools, LaGuardia Community College, and even a prison. Some may remember that it even once housed the temporary Museum of Modern Art.
Distance from Midtown Manhattan: 20-25 minutes
Basic tour length: 2.5 hours (see fees)
Starting place: Typically 46th Street/Bliss stop on the 7 train.
Ending place: Typically, near 33rd Street stop on the 7 train.
Highlights: History, architecture, parks, public institutions, neighborhood retail, food (which you can return to)
Before tour: Have brunch or lunch in the neighborhood.
After tour: Have a donut, or continue to the LIC waterfront.
Potential tour extensions with me: Visit LIC in much more detail.