Author Topic: JH: Decline and Revival  (Read 12450 times)

Offline carmela

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JH: Decline and Revival
« on: May 25, 2009, 04:41:08 PM »
This is great! to find people talking about their old neighborhood. I am glad I found this place. But my question to all of you who left the neighborhood is: What do you think about the neighborhood now? Don't you think it changed from good, to bad? I heard that there are gangs, and drug dealers kill each other? A friend of mine went to visit a friend in one of the buildings on 82 St. by the hospital, and told me that there was an apartment on her floor sealed by the city because of a drug related crime. What a shame, how come Forest Hills changed to even better, and the apartments there are more reasonable than in Jackson Heights?   

[Mod Note:  This new topic was split off from another discussion.]                        
« Last Edit: May 27, 2009, 02:38:29 PM by Chuckster »

Offline jcjnyc

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 07:33:24 PM »
Sure, Jackson heights has changed over the years.  All neighborhoods change and grow.  I have lived here for 26 years...through good and bad incarnations of Jackson Heights.    I love the diverse culture here, the tree-lined streets, the great food, the big old apartments...and I have always felt safe here (crime is down 80-90% since 1990).  It is, in the end, a "city" neighborhood (not suburbia) with city problems...but I still think it is a great place to live.  Shopkeepers know me by name, or at least by face, and it is like living in a small town (at half to 1/3 the price of Manhattan).  It is not the Jackson Heights of the 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s...but, then again, no place is.  I think the rich ethnic diversity makes it a vibrant place with a distinctive culture.  There is no place in New York City I would rather live.

Some more history:  Years ago, Natives on Northern Boulevard was indeed a movie theatre.  Before that it was a vaudeville theatre, where Mae West was arrested for indecency the first night of her play "Sex".  The Conway Funeral Home across the street was once Rita Hayworth's dance studio.  Al Jolson supposedly lived in the neighborhood, as did Montgomery Clift, and JH natives include Gene Simmons (Kiss), Howard Stern, Lucy Liu, Tommy Rettig (the original boy on "Lassie"), Don Rickles, and Les Paul.  The Xerox copier was invented in Jackson Heights!  The first co-op apartments in the US were in Jackson Heights...the concept came about in the late 20s and early 30s when a great many people were interested in the Marxist philosophy of communal living. The term "garden apartment" was first used in Jackson Heights.  It was a planned community (designed right after WWI and built in the late 20s and early 30s) originally designed for working families to share expenses in communal living, with close access to the city using the new extended #7 subway line.

Offline Chuckster

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 07:45:57 PM »
Carmela, if you take the time to read through some of the many posts throughout these forums, you'll notice that there are many happy residents, like jcjnyc above, currently living in Jackson Heights.

I’ve been in this neighborhood since the early 1970s and have also have noticed that Jackson Heights has experienced a marked decline in crime when comparing it to the Jackson Heights of the 1980s.  If you look at the historic crime statistics for the 115th Police Precinct, you’ll see that crime has gone down considerably in Jackson Heights from the 90s and onward.

Since the 1980s, there has been a significant and varied influx of people that have moved here and Elmhurst alike, and as a result, areas like Roosevelt Avenue and its surrounding streets are more densely populated than when you lived here.  I’d say that whenever you have more people living in any community, you’re bound to encounter quality of life issues… litter and sporadic crime for example.  This doesn’t mean that current residents haven’t tried to address these important issues.   In fact, these days, I find that there is more community involvement in trying to resolve existing problems. 

The beauty of today’s Jackson Heights is that it boasts a plethora of diverse cultures that is renowned throughout the city, and I’d go so far as to also include the nation.

If you find yourself in the neighborhood on another occasion, I'll also suggest you include a walk through some of the beautiful tree-lined streets you may have walked before.  Take a second look at some of the stunning architecture within Jackson Heights’ Historic District and sample some of the delicious foods many of today’s restaurants have to offer.  Browse through a few of our local markets offering some truly unique items, and then you may discover why Jackson Heights continues to attract buyers willing to pay that quarter of million and plus that you refer to.  It truly is a unique neighborhood, and like most in New York City, it also has its problems.  Nonetheless, I believe this is one neighborhood definitely worth revisiting and living in.
The Chuckster has spoken!

Offline Shelby2

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2009, 10:39:01 PM »
My son went to PS69, kinder-1st. grade, then went to St.Mary. This was in 1976. We lived on 72nd. street and 41st. Ave. Jackson Heights was the place to live for my family, until we started to notice a big change, then we ran like scare rats in 1980. Roosevelt Ave. became very dirty looking. I used to love going to FIELDS, it was a beautiful store, We had an A&P supermarket on 71st. and Roosevelt. Later on I have been going to check out to see what is new in my old neighborhood, and I have found that it is scaring, I would not like to find myself walking out there in the evening, like I used to do when I used to walk to 82nd. street at anytime. How sad it is to see what is going on on Woodside Avenue. Two blocks of line up men waiting to be picked up to work "jornaleros" I was traveling by car and when I stopped there waiting for the traffic light, I looked at those men and they started to show me the finger. That it is scaring, and that picture distroys a neighborhood. And with the prices they are asking for properties you can buy a mansion in New Jersey, where I moved when I left Jackson Heights. If the neighborhood is not clean, what would happened to people's investments? Or who would buy an apartment for a quarter of a million in this neighborhood? I am very sad to see that this happened in Jackson Heights. I told my husband one day that when my kids got out of the house him and I will go back to Jackson Heights where we wouldn'd have to drive anymore, but no way, I really don't feel it could be safe. Please tell me if I am wrong.

If you don't feel safe in JH, then you should listen to your gut and not come here.  Many people don't feel the same way you do and live quite happily and safely in JH, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to what your gut feelings say.  In your other post you mention that you think Forest Hills got better while Jackson Heights got worse, yet the prices are better in Forest Hills.  It seems to me that if you like Forest Hills and think it's gotten better and you can get a better deal there, then that's where you should think of moving and not to JH. 

As the saying goes, "a chacun son gout" or to each his own.

Offline Aronan

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 12:28:46 AM »
Jackson Heights has had its ups and downs since the day it was created. Like any inner city neighborhood JH has prospered when the city has prospered and suffered when it hasn't. The fiscal crisis of the late 70's/early 80's did a lot to hurt NYC and Jackson Heights was affected too. It took several years for the city and JH to recover. In those less than stellar years for our community, crime went up, drug sales when up, quality of life issues went up, property values went down, more people moved in and many people left. Part of the reason why Forest Hills didn't suffer as much and Jackson Heights did is the people who were in JH when the going got tough, got out. They didn't stick around to see their neighborhood through the tough times, they just packed up and went elsewhere. I don't recall a mass exodus form Forest Hills.  So I have little sympathy for those who have left and complain about how terrible the neighborhood is.

Those who stayed worked hard to revive this community and make it something better. To expect that it would be what it used to be would have been foolish. What makes Jackson Heights even more interesting and exciting than it used to be is what I've come to call its Renaissance Cycles. JH has always been a neighborhood that has reinvented it self to suit the times it was in. When the Latin American community was looking for a home it found one in economically depressed Jackson Heights, through investment and hard work it helped revive JH and in turn donated cuisine and cultural flair that made JH a destination. To balance the picture the Southeast Asian community came in and revived the economic section of Western Jackson Heights allowing for even more diversity and attraction to our little slice of the city. The efforts of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and other community based organizations also contributed a great deal to turning the neighborhood around and re-inventing it.

Has the growth and development brought problems for JH ? yes, absolutely. But, reverting back to the "good old days" would not have been realistic or worked in our multicultural environment. I hardly think the days when this was a selective community only permitting White Anglo-Saxon Protestants to live here would fly in this day and age. The beauty of Jackson Heights is in its ability to reinvent its self while still holding on to its historical past. Jackson Heights will always come up with it's own solutions to its own problems. The interesting thing about JH is either you love it with an almost insane passion, or, you don't. If you fall on the don't side, then this ain't the 'hood for you. There are plenty of other places to live in NYC, if you're not willing to take the good with the bad and be a little flexible as things change then you're not going to enjoy JH.   
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Offline carmela

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2009, 12:04:10 PM »
Sure, Jackson heights has changed over the years.  All neighborhoods change and grow.  I have lived here for 26 years...through good and bad incarnations of Jackson Heights.    I love the diverse culture here, the tree-lined streets, the great food, the big old apartments...and I have always felt safe here (crime is down 80-90% since 1990).  It is, in the end, a "city" neighborhood (not suburbia) with city problems...but I still think it is a great place to live.  Shopkeepers know me by name, or at least by face, and it is like living in a small town (at half to 1/3 the price of Manhattan).  It is not the Jackson Heights of the 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s...but, then again, no place is.  I think the rich ethnic diversity makes it a vibrant place with a distinctive culture.  There is no place in New York City I would rather live.

Some more history:  Years ago, Natives on Northern Boulevard was indeed a movie theatre.  Before that it was a vaudeville theatre, where Mae West was arrested for indecency the first night of her play "Sex".  The Conway Funeral Home across the street was once Rita Hayworth's dance studio.  Al Jolson supposedly lived in the neighborhood, as did Montgomery Clift, and JH natives include Gene Simmons (Kiss), Howard Stern, Lucy Liu, Tommy Rettig (the original boy on "Lassie"), Don Rickles, and Les Paul.  The Xerox copier was invented in Jackson Heights!  The first co-op apartments in the US were in Jackson Heights...the concept came about in the late 20s and early 30s when a great many people were interested in the Marxist philosophy of communal living. The term "garden apartment" was first used in Jackson Heights.  It was a planned community (designed right after WWI and built in the late 20s and early 30s) originally designed for working families to share expenses in communal living, with close access to the city using the new extended #7 subway line.

Exactly 27 years ago is when we left Jackson Heights, it was still good, just started to change. I was there recently, and I saw no diversity, the opposite, what I saw was only one kind of people, and right on 82nd. street in one of the restaurants a woman sitting down at the door calling out loud the menu. You see these things happening in third world countries, in the bad part of the cities. This is ghetto like, I have not seen this happening in Manhattan, nor I see it happening in NJ. Also the place looks very dirty, the type of businesses. I understand your point, I know what city living is like, and I love city living, but not this kind. This is not going forward, this is going backwards. This is not USA image. I live in a city in NJ, and it is very clean looking.

Offline carmela

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2009, 12:43:52 PM »
Aronan, I lived there in the 70's, and there were plenty of Latin people already living there, but there was a diversity, you could see it in the train station going to work. Now all you see is one race, that's not diversity.

" Part of the reason why Forest Hills didn't suffer as much and Jackson Heights did is the people who were in JH when the going got tough, got out. They didn't stick around to see their neighborhood through the tough times"

We, and other people we knew, didn't move out because the going got tough. We got out because we  started to see the neighborhood changing, and were afraid for our kids. Did you raise a family there? If you didn't have a family to be worried about, then your situation is totally diferent than those who have kids to worry about. I still know people there, and what they tell me is totally different to the way you feel. It is not easy to pick up and go, it is costly, and some people have to stay where they have been for many years because they don't have the means to be moving, and they have a job. I personally like to see neighborhoods moving up, not losing the quality of living, by making them dirty, and unsafe. 30-40 years ago JH was beautiful, and there were plenty of restaurants where to eat. We used to go to a restaurant, I don't remember the exact address, it was on Roosevelt Ave. and the 80's, it was called INCA, the food was very good, and they used to have  a guy playing the harp, oh boy, that was beautiful music, and what an atmosphere. We also used to go to a Cuban place called Lido, on Roosevelt and 69th St. very good food. But the point is not whether the food is good, or not, the point I am trying to make is that the food in those restaurants they have today could even be better than the food in the 70's 80's. The point is that presentation, atmosphere, is also important, I don't enjoy going to a place that looks filty, doesn't matter how good it is. How about all those hundreds of men standing on 69 st. and 70st. and Woodside Ave.? Do you see this is safe? Do you know who those guys are? Is it comfortable for a woman to walk around there, and safe? I don't think so. So my point is, what kind of people would pay for an apartment in this kind of neighborhood $300K, if today you could find one for that price in Manhattan? or in a very nice neighborhood in NJ, 15 minutes away from Manhattan?

Offline jcjnyc

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 12:57:01 PM »
Carmela:  Sorry you feel that way and that JH disappoints you.  There is a lot more to the neighborhood than 82nd and Roosevelt, or Woodside Ave and 69th St.  Jackson Heights is obviously just not for you.  I certainly respectfully disagree with the "ghetto" comment.  I am happy that you have the life you want in New Jersey.  Different people want different things, and I respect your opinion.   

That said, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are actually the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the US (according to census figures), with over 165 languages spoken.  I am happy to be here, butd I can only speak for myself. 

As for finding that $300K apartment in Manhattan, I wish you luck!  My friend just bought a small studio for just under a million.

Offline Queenskid

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 01:23:09 PM »
I'm not sure how constructive this dialogue is.  We have to agree to disagree.  I was here 40 years ago.  It was nice, but it wasn't perfect.  There were drug problems and muggings back then.  Obviously we had some rough patches in the 80's and early 90's--almost every neighborhood in this city and others suffered through the crack epidemic.  And it hurt to be regarded as the "cocaine capital of the world."  But we are light years ahead of where we were just 15-20 years ago.  We celebrate our ethnic diversity.  The gay and lesbian community has a yearly parade right down 37th Avenue, something that would have been unheard of years ago. 

We are flourishing as a community and the reason for this is the hard work of the people who live here--old and new.  We have absorbed so many people from so many places and we have done it with so little friction that we are a true example of a world community.  I'm proud to be a part of it.

Offline Metsboy

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2009, 02:15:20 PM »
Jackson Heights has had its ups and downs since the day it was created. Like any inner city neighborhood JH has prospered when the city has prospered and suffered when it hasn't. The fiscal crisis of the late 70's/early 80's did a lot to hurt NYC and Jackson Heights was affected too. It took several years for the city and JH to recover. In those less than stellar years for our community, crime went up, drug sales when up, quality of life issues went up, property values went down, more people moved in and many people left. Part of the reason why Forest Hills didn't suffer as much and Jackson Heights did is the people who were in JH when the going got tough, got out. They didn't stick around to see their neighborhood through the tough times, they just packed up and went elsewhere. I don't recall a mass exodus form Forest Hills.  So I have little sympathy for those who have left and complain about how terrible the neighborhood is.

Those who stayed worked hard to revive this community and make it something better. To expect that it would be what it used to be would have been foolish. What makes Jackson Heights even more interesting and exciting than it used to be is what I've come to call its Renaissance Cycles. JH has always been a neighborhood that has reinvented it self to suit the times it was in. When the Latin American community was looking for a home it found one in economically depressed Jackson Heights, through investment and hard work it helped revive JH and in turn donated cuisine and cultural flair that made JH a destination. To balance the picture the Southeast Asian community came in and revived the economic section of Western Jackson Heights allowing for even more diversity and attraction to our little slice of the city. The efforts of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and other community based organizations also contributed a great deal to turning the neighborhood around and re-inventing it.

Has the growth and development brought problems for JH ? yes, absolutely. But, reverting back to the "good old days" would not have been realistic or worked in our multicultural environment. I hardly think the days when this was a selective community only permitting White Anglo-Saxon Protestants to live here would fly in this day and age. The beauty of Jackson Heights is in its ability to reinvent its self while still holding on to its historical past. Jackson Heights will always come up with it's own solutions to its own problems. The interesting thing about JH is either you love it with an almost insane passion, or, you don't. If you fall on the don't side, then this ain't the 'hood for you. There are plenty of other places to live in NYC, if you're not willing to take the good with the bad and be a little flexible as things change then you're not going to enjoy JH.   

I have a BIG problem with what you said here in bold letters. You make it seem like we ran for the hills, at the first sight of problems. I grew up on the "wrong" side of the tracks from you. I grew up on the other side. Hampton street between Baxter and Brittion Ave. Where I grew up it wasn't doctors and lawyers..it was cops and firemen. I saw 2 men executed in front of me, and another man shot in the lobby of the York building who bleed to death in front of me and my buddies.3 murders in for a 12 year old kid to witness . Plus a 10 year old girl raped on the roof of that  same building . THATS WHY PEOPLE LEFT. Not racism . Now I'm glad JH is coming back, but lets not forget what happened in the past either. And I didn't move to Long Island  or  Manhattan. We moved 40 blocks down Roosevelt Ave in October 1984. And it was like going back 25 years in time. Didn't have to worry about muggings, rapes or murders         

Offline Aronan

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2009, 02:49:24 PM »
I have a BIG problem with what you said here in bold letters. You make it seem like we ran for the hills, at the first sight of problems. I grew up on the "wrong" side of the tracks from you. I grew up on the other side. Hampton street between Baxter and Brittion Ave. Where I grew up it wasn't doctors and lawyers..it was cops and firemen. I saw 2 men executed in front of me, and another man shot in the lobby of the York building who bleed to death in front of me and my buddies.3 murders in for a 12 year old kid to witness . Plus a 10 year old girl raped on the roof of that  same building . THATS WHY PEOPLE LEFT. Not racism . Now I'm glad JH is coming back, but lets not forget what happened in the past either. And I didn't move to Long Island  or  Manhattan. We moved 40 blocks down Roosevelt Ave in October 1984. And it was like going back 25 years in time. Didn't have to worry about muggings, rapes or murders         

Allow me to re-phrase just a little bit. I am in no way suggesting that anyone who experienced what you did growing up should have stayed there only to experience more horrific circumstances.

A comparison was drawn between JH and FH by Carmela. She contends that FH did not suffer as much as JH did during the down turn. I offered that one of the reasons this may be the case is fewer people left Forrest Hills and worked to maintain the standards of their community during the bad years in NYC.  For a variety of reasons, some extremely valid, many people left JH during the same period. Without a population that has an investment in the community (be it financial or purely sentimental) no one cares enough to maintain any sense of order or community. Without that caring communities are destroyed. That is what I believe happened here. Enough good people form all walks of life left, again many with valid reasons. 

I have a hard time hearing people who  no longer live here lament how it used to be and blame all sorts of issues and specific groups for the problems that drove them to leave and then in the same post pine for an affordable / reasonably priced place to purchase in the area. The fact that the apartments in this area have any value is owed to the people who stuck it out as well as the new community members who came in and have worked hard to restore JH to a respectable and great place to live, work, and play. To come back when it's "all better" after having left when it was bad seems to me to be befitting from the hard work of others. In my mind, if you are not part of the solution in some way shape or form... then you are part of the problem.   
"It is widely recognized that the courageous spirit of a
single man can inspire to victory an army of
thousands. If one concerned with ordinary gain can
create such an effect, how much more will be produced by one who cares for greater things ?" -Chunag Tse

Offline Metsboy

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2009, 03:24:27 PM »
Aronan I guess you grew up on the other side of Roosevelt Ave ?  Probably somewhere  between 72 st-78 street ?
Things on my side of Roosevelt were a MESS. It wasn't lack of community spirit  or anything else like that. It was cocaine. Pure and simple, they've been selling "Bazooka" or Zooks on Roosevelt Ave since 1979. Zooks is a higher form of Crack. So when the rest of the city got the crack epidemic around 85. JH and Elmhurst had been dealing with it for 5-6 years. None of the South American kids I grew up with live on the block anymore. None of the Irish and German kids either. My parents were paying 250 bucks a month for our apartment, when we moved we were paying 650  in Woodside/ For a working class family thats a lot.

As far as people who used to live there and pine for places in the area, ain't me. I love living in Woodside/Sunnyside. But I'm glad the old place is looking up again .

As for the difference in FH and JH. The only "bad" area near FH is Corona. And the expressway acts as a buffer.

Offline Aronan

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2009, 11:05:43 PM »
Metsboy, good guess, I actually grew up on 70th between Broadway and 37th.

It's interesting to note how certain almost psychological boundaries dictated what experiences different areas had. As a young kid I was never allowed to cross to the "other side of the tracks" heck I wasn't allowed on Roosevelt Avenue and probably with good reason.

I'm not placing 100% responsibility for the downfall of a neighborhood  on whether its residents stayed or left. As you point out there are several other factors  that contribute to problems a community faces. The drug trade already present in the area prior to the Crack Epidemic being one of them. I'm willing to bet different neighborhoods also received better or worse city services (police, fire, EMS, etc.) based in large part on who lived there, political ties, socio-economic status, etc.

"It is widely recognized that the courageous spirit of a
single man can inspire to victory an army of
thousands. If one concerned with ordinary gain can
create such an effect, how much more will be produced by one who cares for greater things ?" -Chunag Tse

Online toddg

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2009, 01:10:05 AM »
Here's an interesting article that attempts to explain why the core areas of Jackson Heights didn't "tip" during the cycle of disinvestment that hit many other neighborhoods in NYC. 

http://www.luc.edu/curl/projects/past/documents/cityscpe/vol4num2/ch8.html

Clearly, from what Metsboy is saying, some areas faced much more severe impacts than others.   It's hard to generalize about such a large area... I remember when I lived in DC, conditions of crime and safety varied on a block-by-block basis in some parts of town.

Offline Metsboy

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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 11:15:28 AM »
Here's an interesting article that attempts to explain why the core areas of Jackson Heights didn't "tip" during the cycle of disinvestment that hit many other neighborhoods in NYC. 

http://www.luc.edu/curl/projects/past/documents/cityscpe/vol4num2/ch8.html

Clearly, from what Metsboy is saying, some areas faced much more severe impacts than others.   It's hard to generalize about such a large area... I remember when I lived in DC, conditions of crime and safety varied on a block-by-block basis in some parts of town.
That was a pretty good read. If you read that article it basically spells out what I was saying. My side of Roosevelt which was working class, suffered greatly during the late 70's early 80's. And thats why people left. They do seem to play down the fact of violence . It was real and very very scary I just wished these parents group were around during my childhood. I got bussed to Maspeth near 69st and Grand Ave from 82 street & Roosevelt . Instead of me  walking 10 blocks to 145, they sent me 80 blocks away to JHS 73.


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Re: JH: Decline and Revival
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 11:15:28 AM »