Tourists usually head to Central Park or Times Square to see New York City, but there’s no better place to feel the spirit of the city and understand how it began than in Jackson Heights.
A few months after moving to New York City, I struck up a conversation with a woman from the Borough of Queens. He asked me, ‘Where are you from?’ I mentally prepared that I would now have to chat with someone from this area during this trip, ‘Okay, It’s a bit complicated.’
“I’m half Colombian and half Indian.”
He stopped me and said, ‘Oh, so you’re from Jackson Heights?’
I don’t belong there, but I didn’t find it weird to say that because it wasn’t a bad idea. I soon learned that Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in the northwest corner of Queens, is known for being one of the most diverse places in the world because of its people of different races and nationalities. In one part of it, there’s an area called Little Columbia that connects directly to an area called Little India, so this lady had an educated opinion of me, and the culture of that part of town. There was also an initial introduction.
Exact numbers are difficult to estimate, but Jackson Heights is believed to be home to approximately 180,000 people who speak at least 160 languages.
On the southern edge of Jackson Heights is Roosevelt Avenue, a major thoroughfare running through the center of Queens. Here, the conversation between passengers does not stop, but gets louder, when seven trains pass overhead at one point in this area.
Tibetan phone repair shops, Latin American bakeries where ‘al-mokhawana’ or ‘al-mujabannah’ (a Colombian cheese-filled bread with historical roots in Arab culture) and crispy kachoris are being prepared.
When I visited the area recently, she squealed with delight as she smelled the hot steam from the Latin ‘tamales’ (an ancient American wide pastry) stove in cold weather. Nearby was a man selling stolen electrical goods, who had the knack of disappearing on sight of any police officer. This scene scares us at first. So many languages, so many items for sale. But the maddening noise of this place engulfs the visitors.
Like New York City itself, Roosevelt Avenue seems to be a crossroads of intoxicating bustle, cultural interaction and commerce. The area is usually messy and not always pretty, but if you know where to look for something, you’ll get its attention. In other words, it’s an area that embodies the spirit of New York City: a bustling, capitalistic environment that attracts people from all over the world trying to improve their lives and the lives of their children. do Come here to do it. are