If Lady Manhattan ever took a glance across her left shoulder, she’d be jealous. Across the East River, this queen of Queens is home to some of the most enchanting sights in all of New York City. Jaw-dropping skyline views? Check. Impressive art museums? Yup. Some of the best food in town? Yeppers. That’s right, folks. Long Island City (LIC) has arrived. 

“I’ve lived in Long Island City for 15 years now,” says Eric Benaim, CEO and Founder of real estate firm Modern Spaces. “And I love it.” Here, all the need-to-know details. 

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    Where Is Long Island City?

    Perched on the 1,376-square-mile isle known as Long Island, Long Island City sits across the East River from Midtown East and the Upper East Side (another fabulous place to live). It’s also just over Newtown Creek from its southern neighbor: Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  

    Fun fact to know and tell: Long Island City was its own separate city between 1870 and 1898. That’s when New York City wised up and annexed the whole borough. As they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, annex ’em!”

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    What Are the Housing Options in Long Island City?

    “Long Island City has been through so much,” says Rami Avadi, a broker at Skyline Group Real Estate. “It’s different than it was even five years ago.” Once a primarily industrial area, Long Island City is now renowned for its glossy towers that flank the water. “We have a project called Skyline Tower, which is a huge 67-story tall condo project in Court Square — that’s the tallest building in Queens,” Benaim says. “It has 802 units and incredible views of Manhattan.”

    If glitz and glam isn’t your scene, don’t fret. You can also find pre-war Italianate brownstones galore in Long Island City’s historic district, tucked between 21st and 23rd street on 45th avenue. But wherever you’re looking, prep your pocketbook. Long Island City tends to be on the pricey side. The median asking rent in Long Island City was $3,700 in December 2021 according to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard. That’s significantly higher than the median for Queens, $2,300 for the same month. Want a piece of the delicious Long Island City real estate pie? The median asking price in Long Island City was $1.1 million as of December 2021. Compared to the borough’s median asking price, which was $585,000 for the same time period, that’s a “cha-ching!” moment. But as with anything, sometimes you get what you pay for. Here are tips for finding an apartment on StreetEasy.

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    What Are the Commute Times to Midtown Manhattan? 

    “Some of the things that attracted me to LIC was its proximity to Manhattan,” Benaim says. “It’s a very short ride on the subway, depending on where you get on. From Court Square station, where you can grab the E train, you’re minutes from 53rd and Lexington. From Hunters Point, where you can grab the 7 train, you’re minutes from Grand Central. In roughly 15 minutes, you can be shopping in Bloomingdale’s! It’s very convenient.” 

    Fifteen bus lines wend into the city from Long Island City at Queens Plaza. Heads up: that’s a different place than Queensboro Plaza. No comment on those — cough *confusing* cough — name choices. They include the QM1, 2, 3, 4, 5, on up to the QM 40, 42, and 44, all of which zip over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. 

    Prefer to take the scenic route? We don’t blame you. You can board a ferry on the gleaming waterfront at two places in Long Island City: Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South. From both options, you’ll arrive at East 34th Street in a breezy seven minutes. And you’ll take in an exceptional panorama of the New York City skyline — including the Chrysler Building and the United Nations — as you go. We won’t blame you if you listen to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on repeat the whole time. 

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    Are There Parks and Green Spaces?

    “Long Island City has, in my opinion, probably the most beautiful postcard view of the waterfront park ever,” Benaim says. “I’ve been to the ones in Brooklyn, the ones in Manhattan, and Jersey City — Long Island City, without a doubt, trumps them all.” 

    Benaim refers to the emerald green stretch of grass that stretches from Hunters Point up to the Eleventh Street Basin. It’s chockablock with walking trails, event spaces, and children’s play areas that will fill wee ones with glee. “It is an amazing place designed by the same architect who designed Battery Park City,” he says, “So it has a little bit of that feel to it.” 

    Benaim also recommends stopping in at the Steven Holl-designed Hunters Point Library, a mecca for design obsessives and bibliophiles. The building made of aluminum-painted cast-in concrete looks almost like cut paper, with sculptural windows peeping out on the view. 

    Want a side of sculpture with your panoramas? Don’t miss Socrates Sculpture Park — open 365 days a year, and it has free admission. 

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    What To Do in Long Island City?

    Art obsessives flock to Long Island City from across the region and the world. No wonder. It’s famously home to The Noguchi Museum and its inviting gravel garden, created by its namesake, Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. (Included in the collection: his 1944 coffee table, which spawned a bazillion copycats.) Nearby MoMA PS1 has been beloved since 1971; works by 47 New York artists are currently on view in the space, housed within an 1892 public school. (Its notable next-door neighbor is Trader Joe’s.)

    Long Island City is also a huge destination for breweries, Benaim notes. “We have 20-something breweries!” His go-to: Fifth Hammer Brewing Co. “It’s across the street from my office. I always try to get whatever new thing they’re brewing.” Try Spacewhip, a sour ale with orange and vanilla notes they call an “orange creamsicle in a glass.” No doubt Manhattan herself is taking notes.

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