September 14, 2012

The History of Long Island City as a Transportation Center

We’re all settled into our new home in Long Island City, Queens. If you missed all the hoopla, check out more from our recent sign lighting, and the official opening of our support center back in April. As the only major airline with its headquarters in New York City, the significance of our neighborhood as a point of transfer and transportation hub in the city’s history is top of mind.

Brewster Building our current home and former home to Brewster Buffalo planes

Long Island City is positioned in the center of New York City. Nestled in the southwestern corner of Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, the neighborhood has a rich history and a potentially even richer future.

In addition to its current transportation which includes the 59th Street Bridge (what other bridge is so famous that Simon & Garfunkel wrote a song named after it?) and the Midtown Tunnel which connect Queens and Manhattan, Long Island City is also home to the Long Island Railroad, the Hell’s Gate Bridge for freight trains, and Queens Plaza, where the G, N, R, V, and 7 trains live. The F train is a few, short blocks away. As is that weren’t enough, if your boots are made for walking, you can take a stroll over the 59th Street Bridge and be in Manhattan in 30 minutes or less.

Perhaps most interestingly, Long Island City is a unique part of transportation history.  The very building we currently inhabit, the Brewster Building, was originally home to Rolls Royce and Brewster cars as well as Brewster Buffalo airplanes (particularly serendipitous since our first destination was Buffalo!

Image courtesy of kimba on Flickr

On the waterfront in Long Island City a few blocks from our building is Gantry Plaza State Park, with a beautiful promenade equipped with everything an adult or kid could ask for, including hammocks, a playground with a fountain for keeping cool in the summer, lounge chairs, and arguably the best view of Manhattan’s stunning skyline.

Perhaps the most visible part of the park (aside from the giant Pepsi sign which stands testament to the old Pepsico bottling factory) are the transfer bridges. These large, looming fixtures once helped load and unload railroad cars onto freight ships in the East River for goods that were manufactured in the industrial Long Island City and transported to Manhattan for consumption. Remnants of the old railroad tracks can still be spotted in the park.

We celebrate the old and the new in the dynamic and evolving neighborhood that is Western Queens. It’s perfectly suiting that an area that has seen so much transition dates back to a long tradition of movement in its offerings and character. We are proud to be a part of the history of Long Island City and look forward to being a part of its future.

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