The Urban Area of Downtown Flushing at 1st Glance

The significant streets where I walked the majority of were Union St., Roosevelt Ave., and Main St., all of which are in my general neighborhood of Downtown Flushing. The streets are usually crowded with Asian elders, people scurrying to work, and high schoolers hastily shoving each other to get to where they have to go. The traffic is mostly congested with MTA buses, Access-A-Ride vans, lime green taxis and many cars all trying to get somewhere in a hurry. In terms of stores, Main St. consists of the Ou Jiang City supermarket and other numerous Chinese restaurants and minimarts, and Roosevelt Ave. mainly consists of various 99¢ stores, minimarts, a grocery store, clothing stores, two Cantonese restaurants, McDonald’s, Subway, Macy’s, Jembro, a pizzeria and a two-story level Duane Reade.

In the case of poverty and affluence, these two different factors are clearly expressed in the physical arrangement of my neighborhood. Considering the resources that one needs to live in the city, most people in Downtown Flushing hold a variety of odd jobs in order to make a decent living. Some of these people include the occasional street merchants near the Chase bank on Main Street selling Chinese music CDs and DVDs, cheap clothing, and knockoffs of popular children’s toys to unsuspecting customers. There are also groups of people with small signs and huge carefree grins smacked on their faces as they speak in their native language and persistently try to hand out some random flyers written entirely in Chinese, Japanese or Korean, despite the fact that not many pedestrians even bother to take the flyers from them. The numerous minimarts also seem to be highly popular in this area because they tend to appeal to the residents who don’t have that much money and/or don’t want to spend a fortune on essential goods. There is even a trace of irony at the fact that New York City Housing Authority’s Bland Houses along Roosevelt Ave. (the “projects”) are right across the street from the lavishly expensive Sky View Parc Luxury Condominiums.

What stuck out to me the most during my walk were six homeless individuals I observed along Roosevelt Ave. and Main St. These included 1) a lady sitting near the entrance of a McDonald’s screeching endless cries of “One Dolla;” 2-3) a middle-aged couple with a white and hungry-looking dog and a sign in bold letters that read “Trying To Get By. Broke And Hungry. Anything Helps. Thank You;” 4) a Chinese man whose “bed” was a long piece of cardboard laid out near a storefront window; 5) a black hefty gentleman with a shopping cart stuffed to the brim and covered with a giant blue plastic bag; and 6) a bearded man flailing his arms about in front of the entrance of the United States Postal Service. Aside from their untidy hair, dirt covered faces, and ragged clothing, what was significantly troubling to me about these individuals was how various onlookers would walk past them like they didn’t exist.


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1 Comment

  1. Homelessness is a very interesting and complicated issue – it is so normalized in NYC that people regularly walk by without noticing or thinking twice. Also, with regards to the Bland Houses and SkyView Parc being adjacent to one another – Flushing is going through an identity crisis right now – some people want to see if scale up and become a luxury financial center in Queens, while others are fighting to keep it affordable for its long time residents, and the two sides are really in a tug-of-war right now – you should look it up if you’re interested.

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