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City urges residents to explore Astoria

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Queens residents may already be aware of it, but New Yorkers looking for the cultural delights of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan need only hop on the No. 7 train for Jackson Heights to get their fix.

Now City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) hopes to underscore the global adventures that await with a citywide advertising campaign to get New Yorkers to explore other portions of the five boroughs as tough economic times threaten both distinct ethnic business districts and vacation budgets.

Quinn joined Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) and local business leaders in the neighborhood Saturday for a quick bite to eat at Delhi Palace restaurant in order to spread the message.

“Who are the people who take the least advantage of New Yorki New Yorkers,” she said. “Within the city of New York, you don’t have to get on an airplane to experience another country’s culture and cuisines.”

Advertisements singing the praises of Jackson Heights and the other neighborhoods will run in newspapers, radio and bus stop kiosks throughout the city.

The other neighborhoods highlighted by the advertising campaign are Astoria for its Greek population; Brighton Beach for its Russians; Flatbush for the West Indian shops; the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue, which includes Little Italy; Koreatown and El Barrio in Manhattan; and Staten Island’s prominent Sri Lankan community.

In addition to the Indian food, Quinn also had praise for the area’s South Asian jewelry stores.

“Helen is often the talk of the Council for the beautiful jewelry she gets from the neighborhood,” she said.

Sears echoed her Council colleague.

“Come out to Jackson Heights and you are in the world,” she said.

Mike Narula, owner of Delhi Heights, said times are tough, but noted that Jackson Heights has already received some positive attention from people outside the neighborhood.

“I think 50 percent of our customer base is non-Indian, which is really good,” he said, noting one family came from as far as Virginia to eat at his restaurant. “We have so much going on. This area is always buzzing.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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