Flushing is a neighborhood in the north-central part of the New York City borough of Queens, in the United States. While much of the neighborhood is residential, Downtown Flushing, centered on the northern end of Main Street, is a large commercial and retail area and is the fourth largest central business district in New York City.
Flushing's diversity is reflected by the numerous ethnic groups that reside there, including people of Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, European, and African American ancestry. It is part of the Fifth Congressional District, which encompasses the entire northeastern shore of Queens County, and extends into neighboring Nassau County. Flushing is served by five railroad stations on the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch, as well as the New York City Subway's IRT Flushing Line, which has its terminus at Main Street. The intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue is the third busiest intersection in New York City, behind Times and Herald Squares.
Flushing is part of Queens Community Board 7 and is bounded by Flushing Meadows–Corona Park to the west, Utopia Parkway to the east, the Long island Expressway to the south, and Willets Point Boulevard to the north.
ZIP codes beginning with 113 are administered from a sectional center at Flushing Post Office. The 113-prefixed area extends west into Jackson Heights, southwest into Ridgewood, south into Forest Hills, and east into Little Neck.
In 1645, Flushing was established by Dutch settlers on the eastern bank of Flushing Creek under charter of the Dutch West India Company and was part of the New Netherland colony. The settlement was named after the city of Vlissingen, in the southwestern Netherlands, the main port of the company; Flushing is an anglicization of the Dutch name that was then in use.
In its early days, Flushing was inhabited by English colonists, among them a farmer named John Bowne, who defied a prohibition imposed by New Amsterdam Director-General Peter Stuyvesant on harboring Quakers, by allowing Quaker meetings in his home. The Flushing Remonstrance, signed in Flushing on December 27, 1657, protested religious persecution and eventually led to the decision by the Dutch West India Company to allow Quakers and others to worship freely. As such, Flushing is claimed to be a birthplace of religious freedom in the new world.
English colonial history
In 1664, the English took control of New Amsterdam, ending Dutch control of the colony, and renamed it the Province of New York. When Queens County was established in 1683, the "Town of Flushing" was one of the original five towns which comprised the county. Many historical references to Flushing are to this town, bounded from Newtown on the west by Flushing Creek (now Flushing River), from Jamaica on the south by the watershed, and from Hempstead on the east by what later became the Nassau County line. The town was dissolved in 1898 when Queens became a borough of New York City, and the term "Flushing" today usually refers to a much smaller area, for example the former Village of Flushing.
Flushing was the site of the first commercial tree nurseries in North America, the most prominent being the Prince, Bloodgood, and Parsons nurseries. Much of the northern section of Kissena Park, former site of the Parsons nursery, still contains a wide variety of exotic trees. The naming of streets intersecting Kissena Boulevard on its way toward Kissena Park celebrates this fact (Ash Avenue, Beech, Cherry ...Poplar, Quince, Rose). Flushing also supplied trees to the Greensward project, now known as Central Park in Manhattan.
During the American Revolution, Flushing, along with most settlements in present-day Queens County, favored the British and quartered British troops, though one battalion of Scottish Highlanders is known to have been stationed at Flushing during the war. Following the Battle of Long Island, Nathan Hale, an officer in the Continental Army, was apprehended near Flushing Bay while on what was probably an intelligence gathering mission and was later hanged.
During the 19th century, as New York City continued to grow in population and economic vitality, so did Flushing. Its proximity to Manhattan was critical in its transformation into a fashionable residential area. In 1813, the Village of Flushing was incorporated within the Town of Flushing. By the mid-1860s, Queens County had 30,429 residents. Flushing's growth continued with two new villages incorporating: College Point in 1867, and Whitestone in 1868. In 1898, although opposed to the proposal, the Town of Flushing (along with two other towns of Queens County) was consolidated into the City of New York to form the new Borough of Queens. All towns, villages, and cities within the new borough were dissolved. Local farmland continued to be subdivided and developed transforming Flushing into a densely populated neighborhood of New York City.
Twentieth century development
The continued construction of bridges over the Flushing River and the development of other roads increased the volume of vehicular traffic into Flushing. In 1909, the construction of the Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge) over the East River connected Queens County to midtown Manhattan.
The introduction of rail road service to Manhattan in 1910 by the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch and in 1928 by the New York City Subway's IRT Flushing Line hastened the continued transformation of Flushing to a commuter suburb and commercial center. Due to increased traffic, a main roadway through Flushing named Broadway was widened and renamed Northern Boulevard.
Flushing was a forerunner of Hollywood, when the young American film industry was still based on the U.S. East Coast and Chicago. Decades later, the RKO Keith's movie palace would host vaudeville acts and appearances by the likes of Mickey Rooney, The Marx Brothers and Bob Hope. The theater now lies vacant and in disrepair due to an unauthorized real estate development project that took place in the early 1990s.
Emerging Chinese communities
Emergence As Little Taipei(小台北) / Little Taiwan(小台灣)
In the 1970s, a Chinese community established a foothold in the neighborhood of Flushing, whose demographic constituency had been predominantly non-Hispanic white, interspersed with a small Japanese community. This wave of immigrants from Taiwan were the first to arrive and developed Flushing's Chinatown. It was known as Little Taipei (小台北) or Little Taiwan (小台灣). Many who arrived were the descendants of former soldiers and political supporters of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalist Party, which had lost the war against the Communist Party of China, and established themselves in Taiwan. Along with immigrants from Taiwan at this time, a large South Korean population also called Flushing home.
Before the 1970s, Cantonese immigrants had vastly dominated Chinese immigration to New York City; however during the 1970s, the Taiwanese immigrants were the first wave of Chinese immigrants who spoke Mandarin rather than Cantonese to arrive in New York City. Due to the dominance of Cantonese-speaking immigrants, who were largely working-class in Manhattan's Chinatown (紐約華埠), as well as the language barrier and poor housing conditions there, Taiwanese immigrants, who were more likely to have attained higher educational standards and socioeconomic status, could not relate to Manhattan's Chinatown, and chose to settle in Flushing instead.
As the Taiwanese population grew, a Flushing Chinatown was created with a higher standard of living and better housing conditions.
Mandarin Town, Flushing (國語埠, 法拉盛華埠)
Over the years, many new non-Cantonese ethnic Chinese immigrants from different regions and provinces of China started to arrive in New York City. This led to the creation of a more Mandarin-speaking Chinatown or Mandarin Town (國語埠) that gradually replaced Little Taipei. This wave of immigrants spoke Mandarin and various regional/provincial dialects. Like the Taiwanese, they faced cultural and communication problems in Manhattan's Cantonese-speaking Chinatown and settled in Flushing as well as Elmhurst, Queens, which also has a significant Mandarin-speaking population. Flushing's Chinese population became very diverse over the next few decades as people from different provinces started to arrive, infusing their varied languages and cultures into its Chinatown.
Flushing and its Chinatown abuts the rapidly growing Long Island Koreatown (롱 아일랜드 코리아타운) as well.