Little did the Quakers know when they demanded freedom of religion in the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657, that the neighborhood would one day become a case study in coexisting diversity. The Dutch West India Company first settled Flushing in the mid-seventeenth century, naming it after Vlissigen, the company’s major port in the Netherlands. When the English took over the area in 1664, Flushing became a separate town. Incidentally, Flushing was actually on the side of the British during the American Revolution. During the nineteenth century, Flushing’s nearness to Manhattan helped it thrive, and by 1898, it had become part of a then-new borough of New York City, namely Queens.
Today, Flushing has the largest Chinatown in New York City, in addition to scores of immigrants from all over the globe. The organizers of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs that were held in Flushing couldn't have picked a better location in NYC for a celebration of the world's nationalities. Today, Flushing is home to a wide range of ethnic groups including African Americans, Hispanics, Europeans, Asians, and more.
More so than any other neighborhood in the city, Flushing is a microcosm of New York as a whole and the characteristics and concerns of the area mirror that of the larger city. Much like skyscraper Manhattan vs. the outer boroughs, Flushing's downtown has a high-rise center with residential edges. Foreign investors, especially from Asia, are buying up property just like they are in Manhattan. Flushing has its own sprawling parks, including gigantic Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, where the lakes and walkways are given an off-kilter touch by space-age sculptural art.
Flushing is like an archaeological dig site with multiple levels of history exposed at once; colonial farmhouses, 1960s visions of the future, and recent ideas about urban development are all fighting for their place. Religious and ethnic diversity abounds and the combination of booming investment and immigration has led to a proliferation of both specialty boutiques and chain stores. The only missing element in Flushing is adequate subway access. The 7 train makes a scant two stops on the western side of the neighborhood, but the slack is picked up by the Long Island Rail Road and the metro bus system.
In the realm of real estate, Flushing has a healthy share of historical houses from the colonial era and beyond - as long as some landmarking regulations kick in to save what's left. For new development, multi-use is the key word in Flushing, where developers are hailed/hated and don't appear to be slowing down for any community group or anti-development blog. Co-ops and luxury condos with retail space on the ground floor seem to be the most common model, but residents are calling for inclusion of more affordable housing and community resources in new buildings.
Some of Flushing’s most famous landmarks include the John Bowne House, the Old Quaker Meeting House, the 1785 Kingsland Homestead, which is the current site of the Queens Historical Society, Flushing Town Hall, which is the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts’ main headquarters and concert hall, St. George’s Church, the 12-story 1964 New York World’s Fair stainless steel globe,the Fitzgerald-Ginsberg Mansion, the Voelker Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary, Victorian Garden, the Queens Museum of Art, which houses a scale model of New York City, the most expansive architectural model to ever be built, the Queens Zoo, the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Botanical Garden, and Queens Theatre in the Park. Area parks include Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Kissena Park, Bowne Park, and Flushing Fields.
Flushing is also home to CitiField, where the Mets play, as well as where Shea Stadium used to be located.
Flushing’s public high schools are Townsend Harris High School, John Bowne High School, The Flushing International High School, Rober tf. Kennedy Community High School, and Flushing High School, New York City’s oldest public high school. Flushing is also the location of two institutes of higher learning, such as Queens College and The City University of New York School of Law.
Transportation in the area includes the 7 subway line, 5 Long Island Rail Road stations, many bus routes, including Q12, Q13, Q14, Q15, Q16, Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q25, Q27, Q28, Q34, Q44, Q48, Q65, [[Q66 (New York City bus)|Q66], and QBx1, and for those traveling via car, the Van Wyck Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, Whitestone Expressway, and Long Island Expressway.
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