May 21, 2012

Love Long Island City? Could we live here?

That's what I'm trying to determine.

Do I love Long Island City? That's what I'm trying to figure out, exploring it as part of my mission to find a new neighborhood to call home, possibly as a home-buyer.  For many years, I've had a love/hate relationship with this part of Queens. Extreme hate because every time I take the Queensboro bridge from Manhattan to Queens, I get lost in LIC looking for the LIE. And extreme love because my favorite museum, the MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center is located here near 5pointz, an awesome place to see graffiti art. But could one museum sustain me? Hmm.

During a recent weekday afternoon, I took Savvy to explore LIC. Here is a photo tour of us visiting my favorite spots and discovering some neighborhood finds that have me a little bummed about being priced out of real estate here, at least according to one real estate brokerage firm I popped into. I'm still determined to find something.

Goodbye Upper East Side!
Hello shabby-chic Long Island City

First stop, 5 Pointz

Graffiti artist at work. Never saw that here before.

Dancing without any music. Must've been the spirit of hip hop taking over.

Savvy loved the elevated choo choo tracks in the distance.

Next stop was the MOMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, housed in a former public school building. They don't allow photos in the museum; you're only allowed to take pics in the outdoor courtyard, which was closed for installation during our visit. But I snapped a few clandestine shots anyways, just not of the exhibits. Hope I don't get in trouble for posting these!

The look of sheer wonderment

This exhibit recreated a 40 voice choir, each voice given a dedicated speaker arranged in a circle along the perimeter of a cavernous room. Amazing listening experience--almost better than live because you could put your ear up to each speaker to hear the individual singers or sit in the center for a concert-like experience.

While at the museum, we met a family that lives in the Hunters Point, a gentrified section of LIC a stone's throw from the industrial scent of car repair shops, food cart storage, taxi parking lots, etc. They told us that their neighborhood near 50th Ave is the place to be -- 3 minute subway ride on the 7 train to Grand Central, 15 minute walk to Greenpoint, 25 minute walk to Williamsburg. The father, a 20 year resident of the West Village said he was shocked to like living in Long Island City so much, and they're planning to stay for many years. And like a true resident of a gentrified area, he spoke enthusiastically about the organic grocery stores.

Here's what we saw on our walk to Gantry State Park and Hunters Point:

Awesome truck!

Lots of "tachies"
A sense of humor + abandoned lot = art installation

We reached civilization on Vernon Blvd after 10 minutes of walking. This street has improved a ton even since we looked at renting on the waterfront 2 years ago. There are a handful of cute date spots, a comedy club, a family friendly burger joint, a veterinarian, and *ding ding ding* a pediatrician's office. Maybe if they take our insurance, it would warrant the hefty price tag for 2 bedroom condos...

Vernon Blvd

We finished our afternoon trip to Long Island City with a trip to Gantry State Park on the East River, with great views of Manhattan, although from our vantage point, the UN blocked our view of the Chrysler Building.

I've been here before, and aside from the skyline view I'm not a big fan of the park. There isn't much shade on hot sunny days, I now learned that the playground doesn't have swings, and the atmosphere feels very forced, kind of like the artificial neighborhood created by the slew of luxury high rise apartment buildings.

Savvy in the foreground, McHighrise in the background

Oh hai Manhattan

A destination for every Long Islander!

Yeah, this is beautiful, but do we want to live here? Hmmmm.

Fun playground, but no swings and LIMITED SHADE.

We had a great afternoon here, but I'm still not sure if it feels like "home".

What criteria do you use to decide on where to purchase or rent a home? Aside from the biggies like schools and cost of living.  Maybe I should create a neighborhood rating system...

The next neighborhoods I plan to visit as part of our home-buying exploration are Astoria, Forest Hills and the Upper West Side. I'll write more posts like this in case anyone else is apartment hunting.


Megan, The Frugalista Diaries said...

i love lic

Fashion By Alicia said...

Great photos! The graffiti is so fun!

jakerm1 said...

As a resident of the "gentrified" Hunters Point - I gotta say this is the place to be. Don't be scared off by the prices you see in Modern Spaces - there are still lots of good bargains to be found in the surrounding brownstones closer to Court Square. Also places like L-House that have been on the market for a few years are doing some pretty good bargaining to get rid of their remaining stock. However, you can still get an FSA loan in the area (I'm sure that will be changing very soon), which could increase your purchasing power - that's how my wife and I bought our place in the Solarium.

We have a baby on the way and will be using Tribeca Pediatrics (which you mentioned). They take almost ALL insurance. List here:

And the comedy club is awesome - I happen to own it though so I'm slightly biased.


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