Jackson Heights is a 300-acre neighborhood in Queens, New York, with a large South Asian and Hispanic population. It is home to a large number of churches, South Asian shopping areas, restaurants, and jewelry stores.
Jackson Heights is home to a number of religious organizations, with a wide variety of different religions. Of the different religious institutions, the majority is Catholic. The Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, which was founded in 1920, is located between 82nd and 83rd Street on 35th Avenue. The Jackson Heights Jewish Center is located on the corner of 77th Street and 37th Avenue. The Community Union Methodist Church is on 82nd Street, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is on 34th Avenue between 81st Street and 82nd Street. There is a Hindu temple called Satya Narayan Mandir on 75-15 Woodside Avenue.
Jackson Heights is a standard shopping area for South Asians in the New York metropolitan area. There is a wide variety of stores, including saree boutiques, beauty parlors, travel agents, insurance agents, jewelry stores, restaurants, antique shops, immigration law firms, music shops, mithaiwalas (sweet shops), as well as others. The street between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue is a hub of Indian merchandise, and attracts the 180,000 Indian Americans on a regular basis.
There is also a great selection of Bollywood films and music in Jackson Heights. There is a theater called Palace Theater on 37th Road that shows only one Bollywood feature film at a time. Next door to it is a retail shop called Melody Stop, where one can purchase hit videos, movies, and CDs. Around the corner on 74th Street is Raaga Super Store, which has an even wider selection. Gifts, including prints and statues of Ganesh, Durga, and Shiva, incense, clothes, stamps, and religious charms, can be purchased at the Butala Emporium on 37-46 74th Street. Another theater, Eagle Theater, is an art deco-era movie palace that now also shows Bollywood films.
A few restaurants in Jackson Heights include the Jackson Diner on 37-47 74th Street, which serves typical northern Indian dishes such as curries and tandooris, the Dimple Vegetarian Restaurant on 35-68 73rd Street for vegans and vegetarians, and Maharaja Sweets and Snacks on 75-10 37th Avenue for sweets and desserts. Shaheen Sweets and Cuisine on 7290 Broadway is a landmark in Jackson Heights, and it has been in its present location since 1971.
A row of 22k gold jewelry shops are on 74th Street, including Sona Jewelry of London and Sona Chandi. There are several beauty salons as well, such as Gulzar Beauty Salon, thatoffer traditional henna tattooing, called mehndi, and hair removal by threading instead of wax and strip. One can purchase saris from regal clothing stores such as the ISP and Neena Sari Palace.
Travers Park is a 2-acre community park and playground, located between 77th and 78th Streets, north of 34th Avenue. Between May and November, every Sunday the park is host to a farmer’s market as part of the Greenmarket program under the New York City Council on the Environment. Every summer, there is a performance series called Summer Sundays in the Park, featuring a wide range of music. It is sponsored by the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, its committee, Friends of Traverse Park, and the Queens Community House.
What does this mean for the people living in this neighborhood? People of various ethnic and religious backgrounds have access to foods, entertainment, and the religious institutions that can provide a great deal of support for families that are living far away from their original homes. For those who immigrated, the familiarities of shops and restaurants from their home countries would allow them to ease into the American
culture, and being around other immigrants from the same country could be helpful, especially if they don’t yet speak English. Living in an area with a large number of cultural reminders of home could allow for immigrants’ first generation children to connect with the richness of their ethnic cultures as well. In addition to connecting to each ethnic group being able to connect to their homes, it also creates a melting pot of cultures that all can share.