Queens is a borough of New York City, coterminous with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. The borough of Queens is the second largest in population (after Brooklyn), with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48 percent of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City's boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City's boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation’s fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
Queens was established in 1683 as one of the original 12 counties of New York. The settlement was presumably named for the English queen Catherine of Braganza (1638–1705). From 1683 until 1899, the County of Queens included what is now Nassau County. Queens became a borough during the consolidation of New York City in 1898.
Queens has the most diversified economy of the five boroughs of New York City. It is home to John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, both among the world's busiest, which in turn makes the airspace above Queens among the busiest in the United States. Landmarks in Queens include Flushing Meadows–Corona Park; Citi Field, home to the New York Mets baseball team; the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, site of the US Open tennis tournament; Kaufman Astoria Studios; Silvercup Studios; and Aqueduct Racetrack. The borough has diverse housing, ranging from high-rise apartment buildings in the urban areas of western and central Queens, such as Ozone Park, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Astoria, and Long Island City, to somewhat more suburban neighborhoods in the eastern part of the borough, including Douglaston–Little Neck and Bayside. The Queens Night Market in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park attracts over 10,000 people nightly to sample food from over 85 countries.
Colonial and post-colonial history
Catherine of Braganza, former Queen of England
European colonization brought Dutch and English settlers, as a part of the New Netherland colony. First settlements occurred in 1635 followed by early colonizations at Maspeth in 1642, and Vlissingen (now Flushing) in 1643. Other early settlements included Newtown (now Elmhurst) and Jamaica. However, these towns were mostly inhabited by English settlers from New England via eastern Long Island (Suffolk County) subject to Dutch law. After the capture of the colony by the English and its renaming as New York in 1664, the area (and all of Long Island) became known as Yorkshire.
The Flushing Remonstrance signed by colonists in 1657 is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. The signers protested the Dutch colonial authorities' persecution of Quakers in what is today the borough of Queens.
Originally, Queens County included the adjacent area now comprising Nassau County. It was an original county of New York State, one of twelve created on November 1, 1683. The county is assumed to have been named after Catherine of Braganza, since she was queen of England at the time (she was Portugal's royal princess Catarina daughter of King John IV of Portugal). The county was founded alongside Kings County (Brooklyn, which was named after her husband, King Charles II), and Richmond County (Staten Island, named after his illegitimate son, the 1st Duke of Richmond). However, the namesake is in dispute; while Catherine's title seems the most likely namesake, no historical evidence of official declaration has been found. On October 7, 1691, all counties in the Colony of New York were redefined. Queens gained North and South Brother Islands as well as Huletts Island (today known as Rikers Island). On December 3, 1768, Queens gained other islands in Long Island Sound that were not already assigned to a county but that did not abut on Westchester County (today's Bronx County).
Queens played a minor role in the American Revolution, as compared to Brooklyn, where the Battle of Long Island was largely fought. Queens, like the rest of what became New York City and Long Island, remained under British occupation after the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and was occupied throughout most of the rest of the Revolutionary War. Under the Quartering Act, British soldiers used, as barracks, the public inns and uninhabited buildings belonging to Queens residents. Even though many local people were against unannounced quartering, sentiment throughout the county remained in favor of the British crown. The quartering of soldiers in private homes, except in times of war, was banned by the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nathan Hale was captured by the British on the shore of Flushing Bay in Queens before being executed by hanging in Manhattan for gathering intelligence.
From 1683 until 1784, Queens County consisted of five towns: Flushing, Hempstead, Jamaica, Newtown, and Oyster Bay. On April 6, 1784, a sixth town, the Town of North Hempstead, was formed through secession by the northern portions of the Town of Hempstead. The seat of the county government was located first in Jamaica, but the courthouse was torn down by the British during the American Revolution to use the materials to build barracks. After the war, various buildings in Jamaica temporarily served as courthouse and jail until a new building was erected about 1787 (and later completed) in an area near Mineola (now in Nassau County) known then as Clowesville.
The 1850 United States Census was the first in which the population of the three western towns exceeded that of the three eastern towns that are now part of Nassau County. Concerns were raised about the condition and distance of the old courthouse, and several sites were in contention for the construction of a new one.
In 1870, Long Island City split from the Town of Newtown, incorporating itself as a city, consisting of what had been the Village of Astoria and some unincorporated areas within the Town of Newtown. Around 1874, the seat of county government was moved to Long Island City from Mineola.
On March 1, 1860, the eastern border between Queens County (later Nassau County) and Suffolk County was redefined with no discernible change. On June 8, 1881, North Brother Island was transferred to New York County. On May 8, 1884, Rikers Island was transferred to New York County.
In 1885, Lloyd Neck, which was part of the Town of Oyster Bay and was earlier known as Queens Village, seceded from Queens and became part of the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County. On April 16, 1964, South Brother Island was transferred to Bronx County.
Incorporation as borough
Queens Boulevard, looking east from Van Dam Street, in 1920. The newly built IRT Flushing Line is in the boulevard's median.
The New York City Borough of Queens was authorized on May 4, 1897, by a vote of the New York State Legislature after an 1894 referendum on consolidation. The eastern 280sqmi of Queens that became Nassau County was partitioned on January 1, 1899.
Queens Borough was established on January 1, 1898.
"The city of Long Island City, the towns of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica, and that part of the town of Hempstead, in the county of Queens, which is westerly of a straight line drawn through the middle of the channel between Rockaway Beach and Shelter Island, in the county of Queens, to the Atlantic Ocean" was annexed to New York City, dissolving all former municipal governments (Long Island City, the county government, all towns, and all villages) within the new borough. The areas of Queens County that were not part of the consolidation plan, consisting of the towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, and the major remaining portion of the Town of Hempstead, remained part of Queens County until they seceded to form the new Nassau County on January 1, 1899. At this point, the boundaries of Queens County and the Borough of Queens became coterminous. With consolidation, Jamaica once again became the county seat, though county offices now extend to nearby Kew Gardens also.
The borough's administrative and court buildings are presently located in Kew Gardens and downtown Jamaica respectively, two neighborhoods that were villages of the former Town of Jamaica.
From 1905 to 1908 the Long Island Rail Road in Queens became electrified. Transportation to and from Manhattan, previously by ferry or via bridges in Brooklyn, opened up with the Queensboro Bridge finished in 1909, and with railway tunnels under the East River in 1910. From 1915 onward, much of Queens was connected to the New York City Subway system. With the 1915 construction of the Steinway Tunnel carrying the IRT Flushing Line between Queens and Manhattan, and the robust expansion of the use of the automobile, the population of Queens more than doubled in the 1920s, from 469,042 in 1920 to 1,079,129 in 1930.
In later years, Queens was the site of the 1939 New York World's Fair and the 1964 New York World's Fair. LaGuardia Airport, in northern Queens, opened in 1939. Idlewild Airport, in southern Queens and now called JFK Airport, opened in 1948. American Airlines Flight 587 took off from the latter airport on November 12, 2001, but ended up crashing in Queens' Belle Harbor area, killing 265 people. In late October 2012, much of Queens' Breezy Point area was destroyed by a massive six-alarm fire caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Queens is located on the far western portion of geographic Long Island and includes a few smaller islands, most of which are in Jamaica Bay, forming part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, which in turn is one of the National Parks of New York Harbor. According to the United States Census Bureau, Queens County has a total area of 178sqmi, of which 109sqmi is land and 70sqmi (39%) is water.
Brooklyn, the only other New York City borough on geographic Long Island, lies just south and west of Queens, with Newtown Creek, an estuary that flows into the East River, forming part of the border. To the west and north is the East River, across which is Manhattan to the west and The Bronx to the north. Nassau County is east of Queens on Long Island. Staten Island is southwest of Brooklyn, and shares only a 3-mile-long water border (in the Outer Bay) with Queens. North of Queens are Flushing Bay and the Flushing River, connecting to the East River. The East River opens into Long Island Sound. The midsection of Queens is crossed by the Long Island straddling terminal moraine created by the Wisconsin Glacier. The Rockaway Peninsula, the southernmost part of all of Long Island, sits between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, featuring 7mi of beaches.
NASA Landsat satellite image of Long Island and surrounding areas
Under the Köppen climate classification, using the 32°F coldest month (January) isotherm, Queens and the rest of New York City have a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with partial shielding from the Appalachian Mountains and moderating influences from the Atlantic Ocean. Queens receives precipitation throughout the year, with an average of 44.8in per year. In an average year, there will be 44 days with either moderate or heavy rain.
An average winter will have 22 days with some snowfall, of which 9 days have at least 1in of snowfall. Summer is typically hot, humid, and wet. An average year will have 17 days with a high temperature of 90F or warmer. In an average year, there are 14 days where the temperature does not go above 32F all day. Spring and autumn can vary from chilly to very warm.
The highest temperature ever recorded at LaGuardia Airport was 107F on July 3, 1966. The highest temperature ever recorded at John F. Kennedy International Airport was 104F, also on July 3, 1966. LaGuardia Airport's record-low temperature was -7F on February 15, 1943, the effect of which was exacerbated by a shortage of heating oil and coal. John F. Kennedy International Airport's record-low temperature was -2F, on February 8, 1963, and January 21, 1985. On January 24, 2016, 30.5in of snow fell, which is the record in Queens.
Tornadoes are generally rare; the most recent tornado, an EF0, touched down in College Point on August 3, 2018, causing minor damage. Prior to that, there was a tornado in Breezy Point on September 8, 2012, which damaged the roofs of some homes, and an EF1 tornado in Flushing on September 26, 2010.
A typical residential street in Jackson Heights
Four United States Postal Service postal zones serve Queens, based roughly on those serving the towns in existence at the consolidation of the five boroughs into New York City: Long Island City (ZIP codes starting with 111), Jamaica (114), Flushing (113), and Far Rockaway (116). In addition, the Floral Park post office (110), based in Nassau County, serves a small part of northeastern Queens. Each of these main post offices have neighborhood stations with individual ZIP codes, and unlike the other boroughs, these station names are often used in addressing letters. These ZIP codes do not always reflect traditional neighborhood names and boundaries; "East Elmhurst", for example, was largely coined by the USPS and is not an official community. Most neighborhoods have no solid boundaries. The Forest Hills and Rego Park neighborhoods, for instance, overlap.
Residents of Queens often closely identify with their neighborhood rather than with the borough or city. The borough is a patchwork of dozens of unique neighborhoods, each with its own distinct identity:
- Flushing, one of the largest neighborhoods in Queens, has a large and growing Asian community. The community consists of Chinese, Koreans, and South Asians. Asians have now expanded eastward along the Northern Boulevard axis through Murray Hill, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston–Little Neck, and eventually into adjacent Nassau County. These neighborhoods historically contained Italian Americans and Greeks, as well as Latino Americans. The busy intersection of Main Street, Kissena Boulevard, and 41st Avenue defines the center of Downtown Flushing and the Flushing Chinatown (法拉盛華埠), known as the "Chinese Times Square" or the "Chinese Manhattan". The segment of Main Street between Kissena Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, punctuated by the Long Island Rail Road trestle overpass, represents the cultural heart of the Flushing Chinatown. Housing over 30,000 individuals born in China alone, the largest by this metric outside Asia, Flushing has become home to the largest and one of the fastest-growing Chinatowns in the world as the heart of over 250,000 ethnic Chinese in Queens, representing the largest Chinese population of any U.S. municipality other than New York City in total. Conversely, the Flushing Chinatown has also become the epicenter of organized prostitution in the United States, importing women from China, Korea, Thailand, and Eastern Europe to sustain the underground North American sex trade.
- Howard Beach, Whitestone, and Middle Village are home to large Italian American populations.
- Ozone Park and South Ozone Park have large Italian, Hispanic, and Guyanese populations.
- Rockaway Beach has a large Irish American population.
- Astoria, in the northwest, is traditionally home to one of the largest Greek populations outside Greece. It also has large Spanish American, Albanian American, Bosnian American, Bulgarian American, Croatian American, Romanian American and Italian American communities, and is also home to a growing population of Arabs, South Asians, and young professionals from Manhattan. Nearby Long Island City is a major commercial center and the home to Queensbridge, the largest housing project in North America.
- Maspeth and Ridgewood are home to many Eastern European immigrants such as Romanian, Polish, Serbian, Albanian, and other Slavic populations. Ridgewood also has a large Hispanic population.
- Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and East Elmhurst make up a conglomeration of Hispanic, Asian, Tibetan, and South Asian communities.
- Woodside is home to a large Filipino American community and has a "Little Manila" as well a large Irish American population. There is also a large presence of Filipino Americans in Queens Village and in Hollis.
- Richmond Hill, in the south, is often thought of as "Little Guyana" for its large Guyanese community.
- Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Kew Gardens Hills have traditionally large Jewish populations (historically from Germany and eastern Europe; though more recent immigrants are from Israel, Iran, and the former Soviet Union). These neighborhoods are also known for large and growing Asian communities, mainly immigrants from China.
- Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, and Hollis Hills are also populated with many people of Jewish background. Many Asian families reside in parts of Fresh Meadows as well.
- Jamaica is home to large African American and Caribbean populations. There are also middle-class African American and Caribbean neighborhoods such as Saint Albans, Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, Laurelton, and Briarwood along east and southeast Queens.
- Bellerose and Floral Park, originally home to many Irish Americans, is home to a growing South Asian population, predominantly Indian Americans.
- Corona and Corona Heights, once considered the "Little Italy" of Queens, was a predominantly Italian community with a strong African American community in the northern portion of Corona and adjacent East Elmhurst. From the 1920s through the 1960s, Corona remained a close-knit neighborhood. Corona today has the highest concentration of Latinos of any Queens neighborhood, with an increasing Chinese American population, located between Elmhurst and Flushing.
Rocket Thrower (1963) at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.
Queens has been the center of a major artistic movement in the form of punk rock with The Ramones originating out of Forest Hills, it has also been the home of such notable artists as Tony Bennett, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Simon, and Robert Mapplethorpe. The current poet laureate of Queens is Paolo Javier.
Queens has notably fostered African-American culture, with establishments such as The Afrikan Poetry Theatre and the Black Spectrum Theater Company catering specifically to African Americans in Queens. In the 1940s, Queens was an important center of jazz; such jazz luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald took up residence in Queens, seeking refuge from the segregation they found elsewhere in New York. Additionally, many notable hip-hop acts hail from Queens, including Action Bronson, Nas, Run-D.M.C., Kool G Rap, A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Mobb Deep, 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, and Heems of Das Racist.
Queens hosts various museums and cultural institutions that serve its diverse communities. They range from the historical (such as the John Bowne House) to the scientific (such as the New York Hall of Science), from conventional art galleries (such as the Noguchi Museum) to unique graffiti exhibits (such as 5 Pointz). Queens's cultural institutions include, but are not limited to:
The travel magazine Lonely Planet also named Queens the top destination in the country for 2015 for its cultural and culinary diversity. Stating that Queens is "quickly becoming its hippest" but that "most travelers haven’t clued in… yet," the Lonely Planet stated that "nowhere is the image of New York as the global melting pot truer than Queens."
There are 138 languages spoken in the borough. As of 2010, 43.84% (905,890) of Queens residents aged five and older spoke only English at home, while 23.88% (493,462) spoke Spanish, 8.06% (166,570) Chinese, 3.44% (71,054) various Indic languages, 2.74% (56,701) Korean, 1.67% (34,596) Russian, 1.56% (32,268) Italian, 1.54% (31,922) Tagalog, 1.53% (31,651) Greek, 1.32% (27,345) French Creole, 1.17% (24,118) Polish, 0.96% (19,868) Hindi, 0.93% (19,262) Urdu, 0.92% (18,931) other Asian languages, 0.80% (16,435) other Indo-European languages, 0.71% (14,685) French, 0.61% (12,505) Arabic, 0.48% (10,008) Serbo-Croatian, and Hebrew was spoken as a main language by 0.46% (9,410) of the population over the age of five. In total, 56.16% (1,160,483) of Queens's population aged five and older spoke a language at home other than English.
The cuisine available in Queens reflects its vast cultural diversity. The cuisine of a particular neighborhood often represents its demographics; for example, Astoria hosts many Greek restaurants, in keeping with its traditionally Greek population. Jackson Heights is known for its prominent Indian cuisine and also many Latin American eateries.
Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, 2010
CC BY-SA 3.0
Citi Field is a 41,922-seat stadium opened in April 2009 in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park that is the home ballpark of the New York Mets of Major League Baseball. Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets and the New York Jets of the National Football League, as well as the temporary home of the New York Yankees and the New York Giants Football Team stood where Citi Field's parking lot is now located, operating from 1964 to 2008.
The US Open tennis tournament has been played since 1978 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, located just south of Citi Field. With a capacity of 23,771, Arthur Ashe Stadium is the biggest tennis stadium in the world. The US Open was formerly played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. South Ozone Park is the home of Aqueduct Racetrack, which is operated by the New York Racing Association and offers Thoroughbred horse-racing from late October/early November through April. Belmont Park Racetrack is mostly in Nassau County, New York however a section of the property including the Belmont Park station on the Long Island Rail Road is in Queens.
According to the 2010 Census, 36% of all Queens households did not own a car; the citywide rate is 53%. Therefore, mass transit is also used.
alt=Five jumbo airplanes wait in a line on a runway next to a small body of water. Behind them in the distance is the airport and control tower.
Queens has crucial importance in international and interstate air traffic, with two of the New York metropolitan area's three major airports located there.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, with 27.4 million international passengers in 2014 (of 53.2 million passengers, overall), is the busiest airport in the United States by international passenger traffic. Owned by the City of New York and managed since 1947 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the airport's runways and six terminals cover an area of 4930acres on Jamaica Bay in southeastern Queens. The airport's original official name was New York International Airport, although it was commonly known as Idlewild, with the name changed to Kennedy in December 1963 to honor the recently assassinated president.
LaGuardia Airport is located in Flushing, in northern Queens, on Flushing Bay. Originally opened in 1939, the airport's two runways and four terminals cover 680acres, serving 28.4 million passengers in 2015. In 2014, citing outdated conditions in the airport's terminals, Vice President Joe Biden compared LaGuardia Airport to a "third world country". In 2015, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began a $4 billion project to completely reconstruct LaGuardia Airport's terminals and entryways, with an estimated completion in 2021.
46th Street – Bliss Street subway station
Twelve New York City Subway routes traverse Queens, serving 81 stations on seven main lines. The A, G, J/Z, and M routes connect Queens to Brooklyn without going through Manhattan first. The F, M, N, and R trains connect Queens and Brooklyn via Manhattan, while the E, W, and 7/<7> trains connect Queens to Manhattan only. Trains on the M service go through Queens twice in the same trip; both of its full-length termini, in Middle Village and Forest Hills, are in Queens.
A commuter train system, the Long Island Rail Road, operates 22 stations in Queens with service to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Jamaica station is a hub station where all the lines in the system but one (the Port Washington Branch) converge. It is the busiest commuter rail hub in the United States. There are also several stations where LIRR passengers can transfer to the subway. Sunnyside Yard is used to store Amtrak intercity and NJ Transit commuter trains from Penn Station in Manhattan. The US$11.1 billion East Side Access project, which will bring LIRR trains to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2022; this project will create a new train tunnel beneath the East River, connecting Long Island City in Queens with the East Side of Manhattan.
The elevated AirTrain people mover system connects JFK International Airport to the New York City Subway and the Long Island Rail Road along the Van Wyck Expressway; a separate AirTrain system is planned alongside the Grand Central Parkway to connect LaGuardia Airport to these transit systems. Plans were announced in July 2015 to entirely rebuild LaGuardia Airport itself in a multibillion-dollar project to replace its aging facilities, and this project would accommodate the new AirTrain connection.
About 100 local bus routes operate within Queens, and another 20 express routes shuttle commuters between Queens and Manhattan, under the MTA New York City Bus and MTA Bus brands.
A streetcar line connecting Queens with Brooklyn was proposed by the city in February 2016. The planned timeline calls for service to begin around 2024.
Newtown Creek with the Midtown Manhattan skyline in the background.
One year-round scheduled ferry service connects Queens and Manhattan. New York Water Taxi operates service across the East River from Hunters Point in Long Island City to Manhattan at 34th Street and south to Pier 11 at Wall Street. In 2007, limited weekday service was begun between Breezy Point, the westernmost point in the Rockaways, to Pier 11 via the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Summertime weekend service provides service from Lower Manhattan and southwest Brooklyn to the peninsula's Gateway beaches.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012, massive infrastructure damage to the IND Rockaway Line south of the Howard Beach – JFK Airport station severed all direct subway connections between the Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel, Queens and the Queens mainland for many months. Ferry operator SeaStreak began running a city-subsidized ferry service between a makeshift ferry slip at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway Park, Queens, and Pier 11/Wall Street, then continuing on to the East 34th Street Ferry Landing.
In August 2013, a stop was added at Brooklyn Army Terminal. Originally intended as just a stopgap alternative transportation measure until subway service was restored to the Rockaways, the ferry proved to be popular with both commuters and tourists and was extended several times, as city officials evaluated the ridership numbers to determine whether to establish the service on a permanent basis. Between its inception and December 2013, the service had carried close to 200,000 riders.
When the city government announced its budget in late June 2014 for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, the ferry only received a $2 million further appropriation, enough to temporarily extend it again through October, but did not receive the approximately $8 million appropriation needed to keep the service running for the full fiscal year. Despite last-minute efforts by local transportation advocates, civic leaders and elected officials, ferry service ended on October 31, 2014. They promised to continue efforts to have the service restored.
In February 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city government would begin a citywide ferry service called NYC Ferry to extend ferry transportation to communities in the city that have been traditionally undeserved by public transit. The ferry opened in May 2017, with the Queens neighborhoods of Rockaway and Astoria served by their eponymous routes. A third route, the East River Ferry, serves Hunter's Point South.
Air Train JFK path above the Van Wyck Expressway
Queens is traversed by three trunk east-west highways. The Long Island Expressway (Interstate 495) runs from the Queens Midtown Tunnel on the west through the borough to Nassau County on the east. The Grand Central Parkway, whose western terminus is the Triborough Bridge, extends east to the Queens/Nassau border, where its name changes to the Northern State Parkway. The Belt Parkway begins at the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn, and extends east into Queens, past Aqueduct Racetrack and JFK Airport. On its eastern end at the Queens/Nassau border, it splits into the Southern State Parkway which continues east, and the Cross Island Parkway which turns north.
There are also several major north-south highways in Queens, including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Interstate 278), the Van Wyck Expressway (Interstate 678), the Clearview Expressway (Interstate 295), and the Cross Island Parkway.
Standard cross-street signs for a single-named Boulevard and a co-named Avenue, in Queens
The streets of Queens are laid out in a semi-grid system, with a numerical system of street names (similar to Manhattan and the Bronx). Nearly all roadways oriented north-south are "Streets", while east-west roadways are "Avenues", beginning with the number 1 in the west for Streets and in the north for Avenues. In some parts of the borough, several consecutive streets may share numbers (for instance, 72nd Street followed by 72nd Place and 72nd Lane, or 52nd Avenue followed by 52nd Road, 52nd Drive, and 52nd Court), often causing confusion for non-residents. In addition, incongruous alignments of street grids, unusual street paths due to geography, or other circumstances often lead to the skipping of numbers (for instance, on Ditmars Boulevard, 70th Street is followed by Hazen Street which is followed by 49th Street). Numbered roads tend to be residential, although numbered commercial streets are not rare. A fair number of streets that were country roads in the 18th and 19th centuries (especially major thoroughfares such as Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Hillside Avenue, and Jamaica Avenue) carry names rather than numbers, typically though not uniformly called "Boulevards" or "Parkways".
Queens house numbering was designed to provide convenience in locating the address itself; the first half of a number in a Queens address refers to the nearest cross street, the second half refers to the house or lot number from where the street begins from that cross street, followed by the name of the street itself. For example, to find an address in Queens, 14-01 120th Street, one could ascertain from the address structure itself that the listed address is at the intersection of 14th Avenue and 120th Street, and that the address must be closest to 14th Avenue rather than 15th Avenue, as it is the first lot on the block. This pattern doesn't stop when a street is named, assuming that there is an existing numbered cross-street. For example, Queens College is situated at 65–30 Kissena Boulevard, and is so named because the cross-street closest to the entrance is 65th Avenue.
Many of the village street grids of Queens had only worded names, some were numbered according to local numbering schemes, and some had a mix of words and numbers. In the early 1920s a "Philadelphia Plan" was instituted to overlay one numbered system upon the whole borough. The Topographical Bureau, Borough of Queens, worked out the details. Subway stations were only partly renamed, and some, including those along the IRT Flushing Line , now share dual names after the original street names. In 2012, some numbered streets in the Douglaston Hill Historic District were renamed to their original names, with 43rd Avenue becoming Pine Street.
The Rockaway Peninsula does not follow the same system as the rest of the borough and has its own numbering system. Streets are numbered in ascending order heading west from near the Nassau County border, and are prefixed with the word "Beach." Streets at the easternmost end, however, are nearly all named. Bayswater, which is on Jamaica Bay, has its numbered streets prefixed with the word "Bay" rather than "Beach". Another deviation from the norm is Broad Channel; it maintains the north-south numbering progression but uses only the suffix "Road," as well as the prefixes "West" and "East," depending on location relative to Cross Bay Boulevard, the neighborhood's major through street. Broad Channel's streets were a continuation of the mainland Queens grid in the 1950s; formerly the highest numbered avenue in Queens was 208th Avenue rather today's 165th Avenue in Howard Beach & Hamilton Beach. The other exception is the neighborhood of Ridgewood, which for the most part shares a grid and house numbering system with the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. The grid runs east-west from the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch right-of-way to Flushing Avenue; and north-south from Forest Avenue in Ridgewood to Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn before adjusting to meet up with the Bedford-Stuyvesant grid at Broadway. All streets on the grid have names.
Bridges and tunnels
The Triborough Bridge connects Queens with Manhattan and the Bronx.
Queens is connected to the Bronx by the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Triborough Bridge (also known as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge), and the Hell Gate Bridge. Queens is connected to Manhattan Island by the Triborough Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, and the Queens–Midtown Tunnel, as well as to Roosevelt Island by the Roosevelt Island Bridge.
While most of the Queens/Brooklyn border is on land, the Kosciuszko Bridge crosses the Newtown Creek connecting Maspeth to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The Pulaski Bridge connects McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint to 11th Street, Jackson Avenue, and Hunters Point Avenue in Long Island City. The J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge (a.k.a. Greenpoint Avenue Bridge) connects the sections of Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint and Long Island City. A lesser bridge connects Grand Avenue in Queens to Grand Street in Brooklyn.
The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, built in 1939, traverses Jamaica Bay to connect the Rockaway Peninsula to Broad Channel and the rest of Queens. Constructed in 1937, the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge links Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn's longest thoroughfare, with Jacob Riis Park and the western end of the Peninsula. Both crossings were built and continue to be operated by what is now known as MTA Bridges and Tunnels. The IND Rockaway Line parallels the Cross Bay, has a mid-bay station at Broad Channel which is just a short walk from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, now part of Gateway National Recreation Area and a major stop on the Atlantic Flyway.