Pride in Queens has seen a resurgence this year, one that's both welcome and warranted.
The vehicle has been the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the two World's Fairs held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The joint jubilees have been celebrated at a string of events, culminating in a May 18 festival that drew an estimated 60,000 people.
"The festival rekindled memories of the two fantastic World’s Fairs and reminded us that the Borough of Queens, the most diverse county in America, remains 'The World’s Borough,'" Melinda Katz, the borough president, said in a statement issued after the event. "It is truly a special place where people can experience the incredible variety of cultural traditions celebrated by Queens residents who have come here from more than 100 countries and speak about 160 different languages."
Here at the Queens Chronicle, we've celebrated the anniversaries not only with ongoing coverage of various fair-related events, but also with an editorial page push to preserve and repurpose the long-neglected New York State Pavilion, a remnant of the 1964-65 exposition that should be a jewel in the borough's crown, and an extraordinary series of 10 in-depth articles by Managing Editor Liz Rhoades. The series, all of which is available at qchron.com, wraps up this week with individual recollections of more than 20 people who were there. You can find it in most of our eight editions or on our website.
But Queens shouldn't be celebrated only during special events, and there's much more to take pride in than the grand monuments and memories in our central park. Our 2.3 million residents have a lot to boast about and be proud of every day, from Astoria to Rosedale, from Rockaway to Little Neck. In this, our 17th annual Celebration of Queens special edition, we look at what makes just 11 of our many communities great places in which to live, work and play.
In these pages you can read about the culinary delights that make Sunnyside an unbeatable place to be for food from all over the world. Be reminded of the old-fashioned patriotism alive and well in the community that boasts "Maspeth is America." Encounter the mix of old and new that makes Flushing one of Queens' most important communities historically but also one that in many respects is barely recognizable from what it was just a few decades a go.
See how Jamaica too retains its roots as one of Queens' key historical places while ever adapting to a changing world. Learn that Queens Village was named by the Long Island Rail Road. Read the insight of a Rego Park waitress who hits the nail on the head when she says, "The whole United Nations is here." Read how Howard Beach transformed from a resort area into a bedroom community with six component neighborhoods, from the one whose name came to encompass them all to the pleasantly named Ramblersville.
One thing you'll find is that people in many of the communities are proud to say they still have a small-town, close-knit feel. That's Queens. Despite ongoing development that is without a doubt fundamentally transforming some areas, each part of the borough retains a unique feel defined by its housing stock, commercial districts and, of course, its people. That's what we're celebrating here — not only "The World's Borough" but the many small worlds, the distinct, evolving communities, that it comprises. Welcome to the neighborhood.