Welcome to Elmhurst

Here at the intersection of 82st and Roosevelt Avenue, on the border of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst and where the 7 train lets out, is a thriving commercial corridor. This area is home to mainly Colombian, Mexican and Ecuadorian small businesses such as bakeries, law firms, money transfer offices, dentists, doctors, street vendors and pharmacies.

Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street

Shown above are some of the dozens of businesses that make up 82st on the Elmhurst side of Roosevelt Avenue.

Unfortunately, this immigrant small business corridor has come under increasing threat of gentrification and rising rents as developers have begun to eye up the area. In late 2016, the historic Jackson Heights theatre, which was an anchor for the street, was demolished. The theatre was built in 1924 for the new neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst along the elevated 7 line. In the last decades of its life it acted as both a bilingual, Spanish and English language theatre, and a cheap commercial space to rent – the building had at least 10 small businesses occupying it at the time of demolition. This historic building was replaced by a mini mall complete with a Target, Starbucks and Chipotle.

As you can imagine, as large chain stores moved in, the rents rose and small immigrant businesses have been increasingly pushed out.

The cherry on top of this fucked up destruction is the now constant presence of an NYPD police cruiser on the corner of 82st and Roosevelt Avenue (see above). It sits there with its blue and red lights flashing, for what purpose you ask? My only guess is to intimidate and scare the immigrants of color who frequent the area.

While what’s happening to this area is infuriating and wrong, it’s important to notice and remember that, at least for now, this is still the home of immigrants. Not only that, major battles against gentrification have been won. Queens Neighborhoods United, a community group in the area, defeated a proposal to expand the Business Improvement District along Roosevelt Avenue. The proposed thirteen story building for the site of the old Jackson Heights theatre was defeated, and a two-story building that matched the scale of the neighborhood was built instead. Finally, since the COVID-19 pandemic, a torrent of street vendors have taken over 82st on both sides of Roosevelt Avenue, bringing the street back to life and filling it once again with the sounds of Spanish and the smells of roasted chicken and fresh baked buñuelos.

The intersection of Baxter Avenue, Ithaca Street and 82nd Street

Ithaca Street and Baxter Avenue

I have given a lot of attention to 82st because commercial streets show most blatantly the effects of gentrification and displacement, but Elmhurst is mostly a residential neighborhood.

The housing in Elmhurst is a hodge-podge of single family houses and large apartment buildings. Walking around the neighborhood is always fun because no two buildings look the same and you can easily get lost in its imperfectly-gridded street plan.

Ithaca Street and Petit Avenue

Ithaca Street and Petit Avenue

Judge Street between Petit and Britton Avenue

Judge Street between Petit and Britton Avenue

Ithaca Street and Britton Avenue

The following few pictures are on Ithaca Street between Britton and Elmhurst Avenues

Ithaca Street and Elmhurst Avenue

Elmhurst Avenue between Ithaca Street and Hampton Street

Elmhurst Avenue and Gleane Street

Judge Street Between Elmhurst and Whitney Avenues

Judge Street Between Elmhurst and Whitney Avenues

Judge Street Between Elmhurst and Whitney Avenues

43rd Avenue and Judge Street

43rd Avenue and Judge Street

43rd Avenue and Judge Street

Elmhurst Avenue and Ketcham Street

Judge Street between Elmhurst and Vietor Avenues

Veitor Avenue and Judge Street

Judge Street between Vietor and Britton Avenues

Elbertson Street between Elmhurst and Whitney Avenues

Elbertson Street and Elmhurst Avenue

Elbertson Street between Elmhurst and Britton Avenues

Elbertson Street and Britton Avenue