Offbeat New York

Queens Attractions: Art, Culture, History and More

American Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 36th Street
Astoria, Queens 11106
Phone: 718 784-4520

If you enjoy films. If you wonder how they do those amazing effects. If you remember a time when televisions were tiny screens in big boxes. If you have harbored a secret desire to be an movie editor. AMMI should be your destination. Read about their new opening as Museum of the Moving Image Reopens.

Aqueduct Race Track
110-00 Rockaway Blvd.
Jamaica New York 11417
Phone: (718) 641-4700
Although it lacks the grand history of Belmont Park, Aqueduct is no new-comer. The original track actually opened on Sept. 27, 1894. In 1941, a new clubhouse and track offices were built, then in 1956 the track was torn down and the new "Big A" opened in 1959. It's got an inner track designed for winter racing. And, there's plenty of dining choices from elegant to grab a hot dog.

Baisley Pond Park
N Conduit Aven, Baisley Blvd, S. Lake View Blvd, E.
Baisley Pond Park, one of the gems in the crown of southeastern Queens’ parks, is a bird watcher’s paradise. On any given day during the colder months, hardy humans can visit the park and see a multitude of special migratory waterfowl who choose New York City as their winter haven A trip to Baisley Pond Park is likely to add a bird or two to your life list. Make a left on Baisley Boulevard and park in the lot at 155th Street. Once you’re inside the park, head down to the water, and experience a birding spot that’s hot when it’s cold.

Belmont Park Race Track
2150 Hempstead Turnpike
Elmont, New York 11003

The horses come thundering down the track, the jockeys urging them forward. The crowd roars on its collective feet. You stand, shouting with everyone else: "Go, GO, GO!"

Belmont opened in May, 1905, although not strictly as a horse racing track. Aviation shows and tournaments were also a very popular Belmont attraction.The gracious race track that stands today has been renovated, actually rebuilt. First it was damaged by a fire in 1917, then structural defects in the grandstand closed it again from 1963 to 1968. Finally, on May 20, 1968 Belmont reopened, and it has been opened for racing since. Read more about visiting the track at Belmont Park Race Track.

Colden Center for the Performing Arts
Queens College
LIE and Kissena Boulevard
Flushing, NY 11367
Phone: 718-793-8080

Located on the campus of Queens College of the City University Colden offers classical and pop performances, and family events.

Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts at Flushing Town Hall
137-35 Northern Boulevard
Flushing , New York 11354
Phone: 718-463-7700

A landmark building from 1862 is the place to go for jazz, opera, theater, dance and classical music. It is a member of New York City's Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The Council also offers the Queens Jazz Trail© tour which visits the neighborhoods clubs and museums of and about America’s jazz legends. Jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, and Louis Armstrong all lived in Queens.

Flushing Meadows Park, Corona Queens

Quietly, over the years, this park of over 1200 acres has been becoming more and more of a cultural attraction. Not for the large expanse of green, or even for the unisphere from the World's Fair of 1964.
Flushing Meadows is home to:

Arthur Ashe Stadium -- New York's finest tennis stadium, named after one of New York's most famous and loved player and called one of the grandest facilities of any tournament – Grand Slam or otherwise – in the world.

Louis Armstrong Stadium -- Originally called the Singer Bowl, and built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Louis Armstrong Stadium was refurbished and renovated for the start of the 1978 US Open.

New York Hall of Science-- Built for the 1964 World's Fair, today the facility is New York City's only hands-on science and technology museum.

Playground For All Children -- One of a few of its kind in the entire nation, serves both able-bodied and those facing challenges.

Shea Stadium--Built in 1962, Shea stadium is home to the New York Mets professional baseball club

The New York Mets
Shea Stadium
123-01 Roosevelt Avenue
Flushing, NY 11368
Phone: 718-507-METS - Front Office
Phone: 718-507-TIXX - Ticket Office
The Mets play at Shea Stadium (at the edge of Flushing Meadows Park) built in 1962. They're our home team, so let's all go out and root for them!

Time Capsules -- These historic capsules, deposited September 23, 1938 and October 16, 1965, are a record of 20th century civilization, meant to endure for 5,000 years. A large granite monument helps insure that they won't be lost, built over, or misplaced over all those years.

The Unisphere -- the monumental stainless steel globe, standing 140 feet high, was presented to the 1964 World's Fair by United States Steel. There's other public art as well, but this piece has become a beloved icon. It is Queens.

Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens New York 11368
Phone: 718 592-9700

One thing you may not expect to see in Queens is the whole city in miniature. But for the 1964 World's Fair, held in Flushing Meadow Park in Corona Queens, Panorama of the City of New York was constructed. While perhaps it would be even more offbeat to see the city as it was then, it's a nifty thing to see its more current self. It's located in the Queens Museum of Art. Free Panorama Tours with paid admission to the Museum are available on weekends.

The entracing Panorama of New York City displaying NYC in miniature isn't the only lure. The museum boasts an extensive collection of Tiffany glass. Louis Comfort Tiffany was born and raised in Queens, and much of his work was fabricated in the borough as well. So, it is entirely fitting that it contains the Egon and Hildegard Neustadt Museum Collection. The Neustadt Collection includes lamps and windows, and some are on extended loan to the Queens Museum of Art. Weekend tours are free with paid admission to the Queens Museum of Art.

New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing, New York 11368

Queens Theatre in the Park
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Located in the former New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair, Queens Theatre in the Park presents theater, comedy, dance, children's entertainment and a film series in its Main State Theater and its small cabaret Studio Theater.

The Queens Zoo
Flushing Meadows Park
It was the second of three city zoos to be renovated and operated by Wildlife Conservation Society, through a partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The zoo perimeter is a pathway that leads visitors to pockets of wild habitats, from the Great Plains to the rocky California coast to a Northeast forest. At home in these naturalistic settings are American bison, mountain lions, California sea lions, American bald eagles, Roosevelt elk, and more. South America is represented as well; the Queens Zoo is also the only New York home to spectacled bears, endangered natives of the Andes Mountains.

The aviary has an interesting history. It's actually a geodesic dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller and was part of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens.

Flushing Meadows Park Sports
Ice Skating
Phone: 718 271-1996
This 18,000 sq. foot indoor rink is located in the New York City Building, opposite the Queens Museum of Art. It's open Open October - April.

Pitch & Putt Golf
Phone: 718 271-8182
Just when you think there's not anything else left to discover about Flushing Meadows Park, there's pitch 'n putt golf. More fun and challening than miniature golf, but not as difficult as the big league golf.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Cross Bay Boulevard
Jamaica Bay Broad Channel
Phone: 718-318-4340

This 9,000 acre preserve is home to more than 325 species of birds in habitats include salt marsh, upland fields and woods, fresh water ponds, and an open expanse of bay and islands. The refuge is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the northeastern United States. The islands in the bay and their ponds are a key layover spot for birds along the Atlantic Flyway. Hiking trails offer visitors spectacular views of the animal and plant life. Ranger-led natural history tours are available, group tours available.

Louis Armstrong House
34-56 107th Street
Corona, Queens
Phone: 718 478-8274

Imagine for a moment that it's 1943. Louis Armstrong, famous jazz trumpeter, has just come back to New York from a road tour. He knows the address of the house his wife Lucille bought in his absence but has never seen it.

It's been a long time and much has changed in the last 60 years, but the Louis Armstrong House which opened in October, 2003 for visitors, freezes a moment in time.

But the house has more to offer than Lucille's sophisticated decorating, or even a look at that wonderfully retro blue kitchen. It opens a window to the inner life of one of the 20th century's most loved musicians. The guides of the 40-minute tour provide the soul of the experience. They bring Armstrong into the house through anecdotes and snippets of actual Armstrong moments. The Louis Armstrong House is one of our favorite places in Queens. Whether you are visiting, or live here, it's part of what makes Queens a unique and special destination.

Museum for African Art
36-01 43rd Avenue
Long Island City, New York
Phone: 718 784-7700

Dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of African art and culture the Museum for African Art is perhaps the only independent museum dedicated to African art in the United States.

The Noguchi Museum
9-01 33rd Road
Queens, New York

If you don't know the works of Isamu Noguchi, you'll definitely want to experience his vision and art. More than 240 works, including stone, metal, wood and clay sculptures, models for public projects and gardens, and more a converted factory building and garden. Free Gallery Talks are open to all individual visitors. Call for further information (days and time)

P.S. 1 Center for Contemporary Art
22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
Long Island City, New York 11101
(718) 784-2084
What happens to old public schools when residential neighborhoods become industrial areas? If they find the right sponsors, they can become world class art centers. The building is vintage New York City school system. It was built in the 1890s in the Romanesque revival style that was popular at the time. Oddly enough, it's a kid-friendly place. And this is a function both of the building that provides a sturdy physical environment, and the kinds of exhibits.

Queens County Farm Museum
Phone: 718 347-3276
It's the only working historical farm in New York City. Free admission, and open every day, year-round. There are weekend tours of the farmhouse and greenhouse, educational programs and a fresh produce stand.

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355
Phone: 718 886-3800
The Queens Botanical Garden features acres of formal gardens and an arboretum. Plus a Senior Garden and a Children's Garden, free lectures and concerts, and public programs highlight the cultural connections between people and plants.

Roosevelt Island Tram
59th Street and Second Avenue

Almost everything in New York runs at ground level or under it, but residents of Roosevelt island have access to another form of subsidized New York City transportation, their very own tram. In the process of moving people, the tram also provides a bird's eye view of the New York skyline. You can catch the Tram on the New York side and make a round trip.

Sculpture Center
44-19 Purves Street
Long Island City, New York 11101
Phone: 718 361-1750

Located in a former trolley repair shop is has both inside and outside exhibition space, the center itself dates back to 1928.

Socrates Sculpture Park
21-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway
Long Island City, NY 11106
Phone: 718 956-1819

Socrates Sculpture Park presents exhibitions of sculpture and multimedia installations as well as a variety of community events and an outdoor summer film series.

The Steinway Piano Company
19th Ave & 38th Street
Astoria, Queens
Phone: 718 721-2600

Free guided tours during Fall and Spring to see the skilled crafts men at work. Phone ahead, a month in advance is recommended, to reserve a place on these popular tours, and to check the days and times.

If you've gotten the feeling that Long Island City is the art capital of Queens, you're partially right. It's actually the capital of the most vibrant, and exciting art in New York City, and it's in Queens.

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