In Long Island City, a Glimpse of the Future?
While James Russell considers Long Island City to be mildly dystopian, it's a dystopia that grows on you. With a built environment reflecting the diversity of its inhabitants and uses, the area is transcending its previous status as a way into Manhattan.
Russell sees a fascinating parallel between this section of New York and the wave of urbanization sweeping the world. "Long Island City, which has seemed to exist only to feed rail and roads to Manhattan, now is convulsively transforming into the kind of opportunistic urban mashup that resembles the new skyscraper cities of Asia and the Middle East as much as New York."
Poking up amidst older buildings, luxury high-rises attract criticism. "Considering they are advertised as luxury product and command spectacular views, the towers, enabled by recent high-density rezoning, could not be lazier exercises in developer cynicism. With proportions ranging from merely dull to ungainly, they advertise mainly their cost-cutting compromises."
Russell emphasizes a constant interplay between old and new uses. "Dutch Kills Green is a lush patch of park at Queens Plaza that would be an absolute oasis but for the screech of elevated trains overhead. Blocks from MoMA PS 1 is the SculptureCenter, a trolley-car garage converted to gorgeous brick-faced galleries full of slanting daylight."