Almost exactly five years ago, journalist Jeff Vandam asked in the New York Times, "Could Queens become the next Brooklyn?" Of course he meant Long Island City, where a wave of new development was crashing ashore and washing away all that icky old industry from the East River waterfront. Big things?gentrification things?had been predicting for LIC since 1980, Vandam pointed out then. Now, one boom-and-bust later, Vandam checks in on LIC's progress. What does he see? "The evidence that this semi-industrial section of Queens is approaching some kind of critical mass is growing," he writes. But this isn't some boring neighborhood-boosting puff piece!
The past five years have turned LIC into a "hot" neighborhood in terms of real estate, Vandam notes, but the area is still a bit rough around the edges of all those glassy new condo buildings. He wrangles up complaints about transportation, parking, the lack of retail and services and other random gripes (yo, where the dog runs at?), and some are worried how the neighborhood's already thin resources will be stretched when the 5,000-unit Hunters Point South and the new Rockrose towers show up to the party.
Still, five years ago, LIC was "perpetually on the edge of hipness and gentrification," and now there's a bakery covered in rolling pins that used to be an auto shop. And hammocks! What a long, strange journey this has been.
· Long Island City Comes Into Its Own [NYT]