I’ve always considered Flushing, Queens a second home. My parents have been working there about twenty five years, taking me along since before I started grade school. Hard to imagine that, what’s now considered the second largest Chinatown in the US (!), my parents describe Flushing in the late 70’s, early 80’s as almost completely void of any Chinese at all. Today, what’s also a huge central hub of subway, rail road and buses, there’s a complete cluster of Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, and retail stores. (My morning commute takes me right through Flushing, and every morning I duck into one of the Chinese bakeries and get a cup of coffee and some baked goods for the 7 Train ride into Manhattan. I swear these Chinese bakeries put crack into their coffees… BEST coffee anywhere, hands down.)
I’ve been away from the NY area and was shocked to see just how much change a year’s worth made. Yes, we got a Pinkberry opened up (and the obligatory Red Mango just half a block down), and across the street is a four story Old Navy (FOUR whole floors of shitty clothing!). But now we got a jumbo-tron!!! So take that all you other Chinatowns!
Flushing gets a bad rap for being overly congested, have rude pushy people, and a “distinct” odor that is par for the course when you have open fish markets. But to me, that all adds to her charm. These characteristics are commonly associated with urban new immigrant East Asian communities. But if it weren’t for them, Flushing would still be a shithole like it was before all the Chinese got there. (And now I soap-box: I hate hearing some of these jerk off Asians thumb their noses at Flushing, like they’re somehow too good for it, then when they need to eat some decent Chinese food or get their cars fixed or pick up some accessories, they go back to the very place they trashed. Get the fuck outta here…)
So this summer, go check out a Mets game or go see some US Open Tennis. Afterwards, stop by Main Street and smell the fish; it’s embedded in the sidewalk.