Queens, borough of New York City (1990 pop. 1,951,598), land area c.109 sq mi (293 sq km), on the western portion of Long Island, SE N.Y., coextensive with Queens co.; settled by the Dutch 1635, established as a New York City borough 1898. Having the largest area of the city's boroughs, it extends from the junction of the East River and Long Island Sound in the north, across Long Island to Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. It is connected with Manhattan by the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and railroad and subway tunnels; with the Bronx and Manhattan by the Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough) Bridge; with the Bronx by the Hell Gate railroad bridge and by the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. The borough has c.200 mi (320 km) of waterfront. It is industrialized in Long Island City; there and at Sunnyside are extensive railroad yards. Astoria, Flushing, Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, and Jamaica (seat of St. John's Univ.) are industrial and commercial centers. Among the many residential communities are Flushing (Queens College is there), Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens. The Rockaways are a popular beach area.
The first settlements were made by the Dutch in 1635. Queens co. was organized in 1683, the main settlements were Flushing, Jamaica, and Newtown (later Elmhurst). Several buildings of the 17th and 18th cent. remain. One of the first commercial nurseries in the country was established c.1737, and the community's collection of trees still includes several rare species. In the American Revolution, British troops held the area after the battle of Long Island (1776). The western portions of Queens co. voted to join New York City in 1898; the eastern section became Nassau co. In the 20th cent. growth was spurred with the opening of the Blackwell's Island Bridge (now the Ed Kock Queensboro Bridge, 1909) and a railroad tunnel (1910). After World War II there was a boom in housing construction.
Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, with large populations of immigrants, primarily E and S Asians and Hispanics. It is the site of La Guardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. Two World's Fairs (1939–40; 1964–65) were held in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. The Queens Museum; the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, site of the U.S. Open; Citi Field, home of the New York Mets (baseball); and a botanic garden are now located in the park. Also in the borough are the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center and Aqueduct racetrack. Parts of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula (including former U.S. Fort Tilden) are included in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
See V. F. Seyfried, Old Queens, New York (1990).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.