Among all the communities in Queens, Long Island City is the only one that actually was a city once, from 1870 to 1898. It retains the name but of course has not been its own municipality since the five boroughs became the greater City of New York in 1898.
Until then, Queens also included the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, but, unlike Newtown, Jamaica and Flushing, they voted not to be included in the merger and split off to form the new County of Nassau in 1899. (The Rockaways, however, left Hempstead to join Queens.)
LIC had valuable waterfront property, and its businesses prospered. Queensboro Plaza contained the Queens Chamber of Commerce, several real estate firms, the Corn Exchange Bank, the Long Island City Savings Bank, and the Rotary Club.
The bustling business hub is also known just as Queens Plaza, and to some as Bridge Plaza North and Bridge Plaza South. The stretch of Queens Boulevard that ran through the plaza was called Diagonal Street back then. Confusion over the name led to it being dropped in the 1920s.
When much of the rest of Queens was still sleepy farmland, businesses in the plaza were involved in formulating development plans for the borough’s future.
Now Queens is mostly built up. Today it’s LIC that’s being developed, as many factories have moved away but newcomers find it a great place to live, due to its proximity to Manhattan and convenient mass transit.