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Bayside boasts small-town feel, gets better with age

"Bayside was an incredible community in 1989 and it's even better now," said Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11 and a Bayside resident since 1985. "People are more affluent now than in 1989."

He cited the suburban nature of the neighborhood. "With our way of life and the way our streets are laid out, we're more like Long Island than New York City, and even more so now," Iannece said.

"It hasn't really changed that much," said Judy Limpert, president of the Bayside Business Association. "There's still a small-town feel. It still makes you feel like you're somewhere other than New York City," she said.

"When I first came and turned down Bell from Northern Boulevard, I was absolutely enchanted with the strip," Limpert said. "That first impression of it is the impression that I still have today - of small-community family-oriented businesses."

She remembered many local businesses that were on the main commercial strip of Bell Boulevard in 1989. "There was Kurtzberg Stationery, Parker Hardware, family businesses that everyone knew right on Bell," Limpert said. "Benn's Hardware, too. Where Bourbon Street is now, there was an Army Navy supply store that was family-owned for a very long time."

While the feel of the area may not have changed, there have been distinct changes in the neighborhood's demographics. According to the U.S. Census, in 1990 there were 26,602 people living in Bayside, of which 71.4 percent were white, 4 percent were black, 16.47 percent were Asian, and 7.29 percent were Hispanic.

The 2000 Census recorded an increased population of 29,254 people, with 53.9 percent white and 3.6 percent black. The most noticeable increase was in the Asian population, which nearly doubled to 30.4 percent, and a slight increase in the Hispanic population to 9.6 percent.

"There is a more ethnic flavor to things," Limpert said, noting that many area businesses cater to specific cultures.

"There has been somewhat of a change in the ethnic makeup," Iannece said, "but I still think that you have an upwardly mobile population that is economically sound. You have to be somewhat affluent to move to Bayside.

"It's a little bit of heaven in New York City."

Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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