A Brief History of LIC

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In the mid 1800s, Hunters Point, the southern tip of LIC on the East River water front, became linked with the North Fork Line of the LIRR. Ferry service also began between to Wall Street and 34th Street. By 1870 when Long Island City was chartered, it had become the center of industry for Queens County. By the end of that century a major building boom had established a number of important factories as well as urban residential areas.

With the opening of the Queensborough Bridge in 1908 and the original Pennsylvania Station on the Queens waterfront in 1910, development surged eastward into Queens, leaving Long Island City as an intimate community surrounded on all sides by vast major industries.

By 1940 with the completion of The Triborough Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel, Long Island City sitting next to the Sunnyside Rail Yards had become a world class industrial center though more or less a passing through point for commuters between Manhattan, Eastern Queens, and Long Island.

By the mid 1970s, however, due to the migration of businesses out of New York, LIC had become a small sleepy town with many empty factory and warehouse spaces. A new group began to emerge composed of younger artists and musicians who were being priced out of the tight market in Manhattan and who were drawn to the spacious lofts, unhindered light, and the almost rural quality of the neighborhood. Equally attractive was the existence of the studios of two world reknowned artists, the late Isamu Noguchi, whose studio is now a museum, and Mark DiSuvero who established the Socrates Sculpture Park, the city's largest outdoor exhibition space. The Urban and Contemporary Arts Institute, better known as P.S. 1, at one time Public School #1, became central to the Long Island City Arts movement.

The 1980s saw greater industrial expansion in Long Island City and a rebirth of the film industry which had its early roots here. Most notably Silvercup Studios which converted an old bread factory into what would become the largest independent, full-service film and television production facility in the northeastern United States. The International Design Center of New York was opened on the site where the Sunshine bakery and Adams Chewing Gum plants stood. The Macy's warehouse became the Falchi Building, and it houses a unique artistically playful interior rivaled only by its next door neighbor, The Factory, in the old Gimbel's warehouse, with its dragon elevator and metallic slanted cut metal ceilings and walls.

The present decade has seen continued residential and business growth, as well as the groundbreaking for the first part of the decade long and contraversial plan to develop the waterfront.

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Copyright © 1995-96 by Kenny Greenberg
Last Update: April 23, 1996