Jackson Heights, Queens is one of New York City’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, teeming with Indian beauty salons, Korean supermarkets, and Hispanic dancing halls around every street corner. If visitors aren’t in the area to grab a bite of spicy South Asian cuisine or wander through the many clothing boutiques, they can linger on the streets for a chat with the locals while drinking a cup of chai or simply window shopping.
This couture South Asian boutique retails saris, salwar kameez suits (a trouser and tunic combination), and lehengas (top and skirt ensemble) straight from the motherland India. While the prices may not exactly be a steal, the fabulous selection of embroidered, bedazzled bridal wear and Indian attire for special occasions is definitely worth the hefty price. The clothing is skillfully sewn and designed, and the extensive array of costume jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, tikkas, bangles, and rings, is irresistibly eye-catching.
New York City is known to be the home of hot and fresh street food, and Roosevelt Avenue is no exception to this tradition. When night falls, food vendors appear all across the blocks underneath the 7 train line, which rattles along overhead. Vendors hailing from Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic serve steamy, delicious tortas and gorditas (sandwiches) as well as tacos, chuzos (meat skewers), quesadillas, roast pork, sweetened shaved ice, and tamales. Roosevelt Avenue bar-goers tumble onto the streets to line up in queues for a taste of steaming, delicious Latin American cuisine, along with neighborhood locals out for a late-night stroll, and visitors willing to experience one of the many flavors of Jackson Heights’ rich culture.
Terraza 7 is the go-to spot for non-stop entertainment in Jackson Heights, with poetry slams, DJs, film screenings, jam sessions, musicians playing standard sets, and vocalists serenading the audience with Afro, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean tunes. While the performers bang out tunes and verses on a raised platform, the venue’s floor is always packed with visitors lounging on the comfy couches and hammocks, sipping on margaritas and beers. The space is decorated with festive, brightly colored crochet streamers hung from the ceiling, glass hearts and wooden crosses elevated onto the yellow wall over the statues of saints, skulls, and twinkling lights, creating a comfortable space for creative minds.
Travers Park, located in the heart of a residential and commercial neighborhood, is the community’s largest outdoor recreational space. Complete with basketball courts, handball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds, spray showers, benches, fresh, green trees and children shouting and playing; the park is the neighborhood’s greatest attraction and relaxation area in the warmer seasons of the year. Families and friends lay out picnics in the park while local children round up impromptu games of soccer and cricket on the neatly mowed grass. The park also features a bicycle rack and a space for roller hockey amidst aesthetically pleasing planting and horticulture.
Located in the residential district of Jackson Heights, two of the most well-known and skillfully crafted garden apartment buildings feature European Renaissance-inspired design and an interesting back history. In 1924, the designer Andrew Thomas planned and oversaw the building of these two housing spaces across the street from one another. The Chateau resembles the French Renaissance style, with mansard roofs and intricately decorated chimneys, while The Towers show influences of Italian Romanesque traditional architecture with its eye-catching red tile roofs and belvederes. Aside from these two buildings that showcase great architectural inspiration, a walk through the neighborhood reveals many other buildings that appear to date back to a historic period before our century.
Since the 1930s, Jackson Heights has been one of the most highly populated centers for gay culture in New York City. While the annual Queens Pride Parade & Multicultural Festival takes place in the streets around 37th Avenue and 37th Road every June, gay culture is celebrated year-round at the LGBT community center referred to as Queens Pride House. At this haven for tolerance and diversity in the LGBT community, discussions, events, and counseling are offered to create companionship and understanding between any who wish to join in the effort to bring awareness and appreciation of gay culture to the world. Aside from this institution, Jackson Heights also features a multitude of gay bars and nightclubs where gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals convene to socialize and meet new friends with similar interests.
Gulzar’s Beauty Salon offers the entire selection of beautifying procedures, from eyebrow threading, unwanted hair removal, and facials to make-up application, hair styling, and haircuts. Between the extremely affordable prices and the swift, no-appointment service provided by the skilled beauticians at Gulzar’s, customers keep returning again and again to this no-frills salon. Alongside these basic services provided, this Southeast Asian-inspired beauty salon also features henna mehendi design.
This eclectic boutique doubles as a religious store and convenience shop for locals passing through to purchase a few necessities and tourists eager to explore the Indian culture. Butala Emporium’s merchandise features a wide array of books and magazines, such as Bollywood tabloids, Hindi-English dictionaries, religious texts, and children’s cartoon books. Also, a large section of the shop is dedicated to Hindu god and goddess sculptures of all sizes as well as wooden furnishings. Aside from this, the shopkeeper keeps a constant supply of natural, organic beauty products, including face creams, facials, shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, acne medications, and oils.
This independently owned espresso and wine bar is the ideal thirst quencher with its never-ending supply of lattes, macchiatos, brewed coffees, iced coffees, cappuccinos, and frappes which are sure to soothe any coffee lovers soul. Espresso 77’s tea menu features unique flavors such as the ginger chai and apple cider chai while the fruit drinks are equally as refreshing, with favorites such as the tropical honeydew frappe, mango mint limonata, and chocolate banana smoothie. Although the main focus of Espresso 77 is the drinks menu, they also cook up some savory foodie favorites like the challah French toast with maple syrup and fruit, the eggplant salad sandwich, and the chicken, spinach, and feta wrap.
Bringing France’s sweetest treats to Jackson Heights, Cannelle Patisserie offers cakes, tarts, sandwiches, quiches, and a delectable breakfast menu for their sweet-toothed customers. Croissants made to a flaky golden crisp, sweet muffins that crumble in the mouth, and bagels stuffed with tasty cream cheese are offered for breakfast along with lighter snacks such as coconut macaroons, fudge brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Customers can also choose to indulge in a ravishing chocolate mousse cake, strawberry shortcake, apple turnover, red velvet cake, or for a heartier meal, the grilled chicken sandwich with blue cheese and smoked salmon sandwich are sure to hit the spot.