Viridian5's Reviews > Queens: What to Do, Where to Go (and How Not to Get Lost) in New York's Undiscovered Borough

Queens by Ellen Freudenheim
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's review
Jun 14, 12

it was ok
bookshelves: guide, non-fiction, new-york-city, travel
Read from June 11 to 14, 2012

Disclaimer: I am a Queens native, born here and spent ages 0-8 and 23-present here.

Queens: What to Do, Where to Go (and How Not to Get Lost) in New York's Undiscovered Borough had a lot of interesting things I hadn't known or heard of before--Queens is big--but also some problems for me. One is that Freudenheim occasionally groups things in odd ways. Here are the ones that jumped out at me: Juniper Valley Park (Middle Village) is in the Ridgewood(!) section, which is especially odd since it'd make more sense to put it in the geographically closer Rego Park section of the book. Zum Stammtisch (Glendale) is listed in the Ridgewood section, while The Shops at Atlas Park (Glendale) are listed in the Richmond Hill(!) section. Part of the problem is that she doesn't dignify Glendale or Middle Village with a section or even part of one. Many Queens towns may as well not exist as far as this book is concerned.

Freudenheim sometimes claims things that I've never heard of before, like that no one calls the Unisphere "the Unisphere" and that you should refer to it as "el mundo" or "the big world." I know tons of Queens residents who'd call that wrong.

Things like this undercut her authority on anything she has to say.

I also can't help wondering who the audience for this book is, especially since she seems rather enthusiastic on the idea that Queens will soon become the next Brooklyn and that some neighborhoods being "hot" for gentrification to come make them good reasons to go there. Great. Extol the diversity of recent immigrants here, their foods, and cheap rents, then encourage people who'll want to come here for that to come here and drive up the prices of everything so all of those reasons have to leave to look for cheaper places. Rents in some places in Queens may be relatively cheap for New York City, but I already live with two other women so I can afford my apartment.

She's also rather optimistic about how easy it is to get around. One of the reasons Queens hasn't become the next gentrification hotpsot is that, unlike Brooklyn, our mass transit sucks. We don't have many subways lines, certainly not enough to really cover the borough, and our buses are vulnerable to street traffic problems and don't hold to time schedules. You really need a car to check out a lot of the spotlighted places, especially if you want to do several in a single day.

The book gives some ideas of places to check out--though you'll want to go on the internet to make sure they still exist since Queens: What to Do, Where to Go (and How Not to Get Lost) in New York's Undiscovered Borough was published in 2006--but I wouldn't trust it as an authoritative or entirely trustworthy look at Queens and what it has to offer.

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Reading Progress

06/11/2012 page 35
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