From Queens: The Brand Residents Don't Buy

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When one thinks of New York City, many images come to mind: "The Big Apple," "The City that Never Sleeps," "The Cultural Capital of America," even "The Cultural Capital of the World." These phrases did not come out of thin air, but through the efforts of municipal government and the private business sector were subconsciously ingrained into the public's memory. Dr. Miriam Greenberg, an urban sociologist who wrote Branding New York: How a City in Crisis was Sold to the World studies the branding of New York beginning in the 1970s. She studies the history of collaboration between political leaders and business elite who worked to tie in the city's image to economic development.

Drawing on the idea of branding in Dr. Greenberg's work, our class' mission is to study Queens in the same light. The city is comprised of five boroughs, each with its own specific brand. We want to discover, explore, and define the image of Queens. In the section How is Queens Branded?, we take a closer look at the branding process in Queens. When studying the branding of Queens, one must consider the multitude and diversity of immigrant groups present there, and the various ethnic and social characteristics they bring to Queens life.

Within the borough of Queens there are many neighborhoods, each with its own complex history and image. An effective way to observe the flow of people moving in and out of Queens is to study neighborhoods with the highest density of immigrants. After researching the demographics of population within several neighborhoods, our search was narrowed down to the following neighborhoods: Corona, Flushing, Rego Park, Jackson Heights, Far Rockaway, Jamaica, Howard Beach, Elmhurst, and Long Island City. To look at our research on these areas, check out History of Immigration.

These communities represent the central, northern, western, eastern and southern parts of Queens. Our goal is to find and piece together an image of Queens from the residents' points of view, and to study the marketing strategies of the local government, the media, and the private sector- which includes businesses and real estate- to see how they have shaped the borough.

The borough’s image is not only influenced by residents. Local government and the media have played a major role in branding Queens, although they have not always done so in a way that corresponds to the residents' needs and desires. Those who are truly important, however, are the people who reside in Queens, since they are part of a large demographic of the population and are the living representation of the borough. So, how does the propagated image affect Queens and its residents?

What we discovered was that actions taken by various institutions to brand and sell Queens negatively impact the lives of those living in Queens. By examining the images of Queens put into place by the government, the private sector and the media, analyzing the projects that attempt to make Queens consumable, and speaking to the residents, it becomes very clear that branding Queens overlooks and neglects its residents' needs.