Take Me to Queens at Once!

The title of this post is a line from a movie.  Can you name it?  Bonus points for character, actor, and scene.  You have until the end of this post to guess your answer.

Six weeks of the WordPress Post-A-Week challenge has been very good in getting me to blog regularly this year!  While I did say that would I write about travel, culture, food, New York City, and bikram yoga, I have yet to figure out the common thread(s) that would pull all these disparate interests together to make an interesting and worthwhile read for visitors.  Ultimately, I am trying to figure out what my unique contribution will be to the online community.

Last Thursday, I saw travel blogger Vagabond3‘s tweet on a current weekly blog feature:  a 12 week challenge centered on the theme of  traveling within your own hometown.  Immediately, I thought this challenge would be a perfect way to complement my Post-A-Week challenge and the goals I hope to accomplish!  So once again, I declare to the world my intent to participate in this excellent idea to write about New York City…but with a *TWIST*.   I’m going to focus all future articles for this challenge on only 1 of the 5 boroughs of New York City:  Queens.

A Manhattan-ite once wrote on her Facebook status update, “Only reason to go to Queens is the airport.”  While the borough does house the city’s two airports, as a Queens native, it absolutely PAINS ME to hear this statement!  Yes, Queens gets very little love in the hearts and minds of many people when compared to limelight-stealing Manhattan and trendy, hipster Brooklyn.  While the Bronx gets little attention too and Staten Island is barely on the radar for most tourists and New Yorkers alike, I believe Queens to be a real gem as New York City’s most ethnically diverse borough and arguably, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.

So if you are a tourist visiting New York City interested in getting-off-the-beaten-Manhattan-path or a city resident hesitant to cross the river, check back here every week as I spotlight Queens.  I hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and explore another layer of this wondrous city.  And as much as I love the westernmost neighborhoods of Queens — Astoria and Long Island City — that border the East River and are closest to Manhattan, I’m going to do my best to focus on lesser known neighborhoods in the borough that are equally interesting but don’t get very much publicity.

Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall in Coming to America* (Paramount Pictures)

“What better place to find a queen than the city of Queens?” Prince Akeem asks Semmi, his friend and cousin in the 1988 movie “Coming to America”.  In fact, this movie holds a special place in my heart.  McDowell’s Restaurant was, and still is, a Wendy’s restaurant in Elmhurst, where I grew up.  Filmed in 1987, I will always remember my elementary school classmates coming into school one morning excitedly talking about their bus ride home the afternoon before.  Apparently, they hollered and frantically banged on the bus’s windows to get the attention of Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall as they filmed on the street.  Little did I know that in 6 short years, I would hold a part-time job in high school at this Wendy’s.  The hallway was lined with black and white photos of the cast.  Heck, I eventually dated my first boyfriend who also worked there and took him to my prom.

Personal tidbits aside, name me another borough that has a major thoroughfare with the coolest street name ever.

Fountains of Wayne's sophomore album cover

*Movie still picture found on Slowly Going Bald.


24 responses to “Take Me to Queens at Once!

  1. I have to say, when I go to NYC, I often miss these boroughs because I try to pack in so much in and don’t often figure those areas into my timeline. Can’t wait to see you explore these areas and I can bookmark where to go!

    • Oh, make some time when you come back to visit! It will be worth it!!! Looking forward to the challenge…and seeing where you explore also. I LOVEEEEEE Los Angeles! My dream is to live in both cities. 🙂 And the Getty is one of my fave spots – the gallery & grounds are spectacular! I think my other favorite spot in LA is Griffith Park/Observatory. 🙂

  2. I know I totally agreed. I grew up a s a Queens girl and i’m loving it. I love how many different restaurant Astoria have and the upcoming neighborhood in L.I.C. Have you check out the Asian food heaven in Flushing and Latin & Indian food in Jackson heights yet? Such a foodie heaven lol

    • Yeah lady, Queens in da house!!! The number of reasonably priced restaurants offering delicious food in this borough is incredible. Because it is such an ethnically diverse place, we have the entire world’s cuisines all at our fingertips. You are right, it is such a foodie heaven! I grew up in Elmhurst, lived in Astoria for 8 years, and now live close to Flushing so you could say I’ve definitely been around!!!! LOL

  3. I use to live in Elmhurst too right by 82nd street near P.S. 89 lol. Maybe we were neighbor once? haha

    • I lived near P.S. 13 (Junction Blvd). I had a lot of middle school classmates who went to P.S. 89. I used to spend a lot of time hanging out on 82nd street in middle school with the movie theater and all the shops there! Hahaha! So cool!

  4. lol Yea that small theater. It’s still there, the movie theater when I first saw Aladdin! haha I serious think we might have bump to each other some time ..lol

  5. i totally agree! but of course what draws me there is the food. food from all parts of the world just around every other corner.

    super bummed i couldn’t indulge during the snowpocalypse but there’s always next time 🙂

  6. I grew up with Action JoJo and spent a lot of my formative years discovering the greatness of the Q boro. From Coming to America, which filmed about ten minutes from where I grew up, to the concrete ball courts of Rego Park, Flushing, Jackson Heights to Elmhurst, just a great place to come of age.

    In terms of visiting for a foodie, Korean and Chinese on Main Street, Flushing, Greek cuisine in Astoria, Indian in Jackson Heights and a personal favorite, Colombian in Corona/Jackson Heights. Ah, the memories…

    • Paul, thank you so much for stopping by!! It’s been years since we’ve seen each other!! I agree with you: where we grew up was a great place to come of age. The incredible diversity of Elmhurst made us go to schools with so many kids from so many nationalities. While we were different, we still managed to form strong bonds because in the end, we were just kids interested in being kids! It really is a special place and the more I meet people in life, the more I realize that not too many people had the kind of childhood we did. Where are you these days? In Queens or elsewhere?

  7. I totally remember the conversion of that Wendy’s and even have a picture of me and my brother in from of the McDowell’s!

    Besides the airports, of course you can’t forget Flushing Meadow Park, the US Open tennis stadium and Citi Field, home of the Mets – all in Queens! 🙂

    • Jenn!! Wow, that’s amazing you have that picture!!! Ever care to scan it in one day?! 🙂 I hope to highlight Flushing Meadow Park in the future so keep a look out for that post.

      Hey everyone! Jenn was the wonderful distinction of being the first kid I met on the first day of kindergarten at the bus stop close to our houses. I’ve known her since we were 5!! 🙂

  8. Hi JoJo,

    I make my home in the suburbs now, splitting time between Westchester County and New Jersey, but my parents are still in Queens, so when I visit, I get to see the old stomping ground.

    BTW-I love the blog and your twitter feed, great to see that you seem to be enjoying what you do and happy. Good luck!

    • Hi Paul, it is great to reconnect with you! When I saw your twitter handle following me, I thought, “Is that the same Paul from elementary school?” LOL – now I know it is! Happy you still come back to Queens because of your parents. Hopefully, we’ll have a reunion soon and we can see each other in person.

  9. You’ve convinced me to visit Queens on my next visit to New York, if only to stand under that street sign. Actually I plan to go to all four Grand Slam tennis events (done two so far), so I will end up in your borough eventually.

    I have that wonderful album from the Fountains of Wayne. Once you have finished your Queens roundup you should go over to Wayne in NJ and see the “Fountains of Wayne” shop. It’s a shop worthy of naming a band after.

    • Hey James!
      Wahoooooo…my first Queens convert! What a nice plan to see all four Grand Slam tennis events…when do you think you’ll visit? Arthur Ashe Stadium is in Flushing Meadows Park, which is a great place to walk around and visit. It has the Queens Art Museum with the NYC panorama that I just wrote about.

      I have to admit, it is my husband who is the HUGE Fountains of Wayne fan and he was the one who introduced me to them. I was thrilled when I first saw the cover to their album…and my husband was thrilled when I first took him to Utopia Parkway. 🙂 As for taking a pic underneath the sign, let me know when you’re coming and I’ll give you tips on the best way to get there. It is a long stretch of road so best to go at points where there is a good place to eat nearby. If you go by public transport, you’ll have take a subway then bus. I think your idea of going over to Wayne, NJ is a great one too.

      Anyway, thanks for leaving a comment and hope you stop by again soon!

  10. I’ll probably be in NY in August, so once again miss out on the US Open.

    Before I came to your land I thought a parkway was, well, a park.

    If you take your man to “Fountains of Wayne” he will be even more thrilled (I was). On top of that you will get a good blog post out of it.

    • The US Open begins in late August…maybe you can come out at the end of the month to see the qualifiers/first round? How interesting to learn of your interpretation of “parkway”…I never would have guessed. Will definitely put “Visit Wayne, NJ” on the list of blog post ideas – thank you!

  11. Pingback: My Top 5 Highlights of TBEX 2011 | ActionJoJo

  12. Pingback: My Top 5 Highlights of TBEX 2011 | Action JoJo

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