New York Magazine

All Those Cranes in Queens

Long Island City is the fastest-growing neighborhood in the United States. A look at life inside the boom.

WHEN I WAS FIRST going to Long Island City, 20 years ago, people would ask, ‘Will you be back tonight?’” says Amanda Burden, who directed city planning under Mayor Bloomberg and is at least partly responsible for the startling changes there. Burden’s general policy was to encourage high-density development in places with lots of subway lines (see also: Downtown Brooklyn). Long Island City, with its seven lines, one stop out of Manhattan, became an obvious focal point for a growing city—even if the results aren’t exactly what Jane Jacobs had in mind.

Since 2010, more than 12,000 apartments have been built there, with over 9,000 more on the way. That’s more than in any other neighborhood in any other city in the country, more than in downtown Los Angeles (the runner-up) or in any area of booming Brooklyn. Queens now has a skyline, and a restless one, with developers competing to announce plans for what will be the borough’s tallest building (Court Square City View Tower, which is supposed to rise to 984 feet when complete, is in the lead right now), as well as creating self-contained amenity biospheres so the residents hardly have to leave.

“All these buildings are built with dry cleaners,” says Mary Ceruti, the director of the SculptureCenter art space, which inhabits a former trolley-repair shop

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