Jamaica is a working middle class neighborhood in eastern Queens that is the last large, urban neighborhood before Nassau County.
It borders Fresh Meadows to the north, Ozone Park to the west, John F Kennedy Airport to the south, and Queens Village to the east. Jamaica was formerly the county seat of Queens, and is still the location of several government buildings, including the Queens Civil Court and Family Court, the Social Security Administration’s Northeastern Program Service Center, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Northeast Regional Laboratory, the New York District Office, and the Central Library of the Queens Borough Public Library.
What is now Jamaica Ave was once an ancient fur trading route for Native American tribes from as far as the Great Lakes. In 1655 the first Dutch settlers, including General Peter Stuyvesant, paid the Native Americans two guns, a beaver coat, and some powder and lead for the land in a trade similar to the infamous deal struck for the isle of Manhattan. Stuyvesant called the area “Rustdorp.”
The Native American named for the region, however, was “Yameco” (a corruption of “beaver” in Lenape). The Dutch pronounced it with a “j” instead of a “y”, and the familiar place name was eventually anglicized as “Jamaica” by English colonists who arrived in the late 17th century. The coincidental name and spelling stuck, and perhaps unsurprisingly many of Jamaica’s residents over its long history have been African American and Jamaican, although the neighborhood has since seen an influx of West Indian, Indian, and Arab immigrants. Much of the white community left in the 1950s. Since the 2000s, however, Jamaica has been one of a few Queens neighborhoods that have undergone gentrification.
Jamaica has a large Caribbean presence on 150th to 161st Streets, and a Muslim Center with a rapidly-growing Bangladeshi community along 167th and 168th Streets. Neighboring Queens Village has a large Filipino community with a commercial presence in Jamaica, and the historically-established African American community still dominates most of the commercial streets. Popular eats include the Taj Mahal Restaurant, Sagar Restaurant (Indian), El Rey, and O Lavrador (Portuguese). The A-list of famous Jamaica natives past and present include Russell Simmons, Richard Parsons, Mario Cuomo, Nelson DeMille, Rufus King, Donald Trump, 50 Cent, and Nicki Minaj.
There is no shortage of educational options in the old county seat. Currently there are over 12 public high schools in and around Jamaica, including Thomas A. Edison Vocational and The Young Women’s Leadership School, 12 public elementary and secondary schools, and six private schools, including the Al-Iman Islamic PK-12 school. The Queens Campus of St. John’s University and Queens College (CUNY) are two of four colleges in the area.
The F train makes a final stop at the 179th Street terminus, while the E, and J Z lines terminate at Jamaica Center--Parsons/Archer, a shopping and theater multiplex that connects to JFK Airport via tram. The LIRR is headquartered at Jamaica Station. The Q1, Q2, Q3, Q6, Q8, Q9, Q36, Q41, Q76, and Q77 buses operate within Queens, while Nassau County service is provided by the n1, n6, n22, n22A, n24, and n36 buses. Major thoroughfares are the Van Wyck Expy, Grand Central Pkwy, Union Tpke, Sutphin Blvd, Parsons Blvd, and Jamaica Ave.
|Building Address||# no-fee apts|
|90 36 149 Street||1|
|88-11 SUTPHIN BOULEVARD||1|
|89-14 PARSONS BOULEVARD||1|