The skyline of Long Island City changed during the boom of the last 15 years, and so did the population.
Queens College Professor of Sociology Andrew Beveridge has watched the transformation as an expert in neighborhood logistics.
“It’s changed a lot starting in the ‘90s when it became Manhattan East,” he said. “Like East Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn before it, economically it’s become a bedroom community for Manhattan.” Joe Conley, the chairman of Community Board 2 for the last 13 years agreed, saying, “It’s gone from industrial to residential,” he said. “The good news is Long Island City has changed, the bad news is Long Island City has changed. If you’re a third generation resident, you’re scratching your head wondering what happened.”
Frank Carrado watched it all through the viewfinder of his camera. The 84-year resident of the neighborhood is known to many generations as “The Mayor of LIC” and his photography hangs in building lobbies, bars and restaurants around the neighborhood.
“I go so far back in this town that I remember there used to be a community bathhouse,” Carrado said. “It used to be right next to the fire department on 47th Road. Nobody had their own showers back then.”
He recalls a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Everyone intermarried. The Irish women didn’t like the Irish men’s drinking habits, so they married the Italians and the Italian women didn’t like the Italian men’s temperament, so they married the Irish,” Carrado said.
During World War II, Italian prisoners of war were held on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek.
“They were harmless and were allowed to visit on weekends provided they wore an armband to identify themselves,” Carrado said. adding that several of the prisoners stayed after the war and opened small businesses.
The Irish and Italians began to age and die out to be replaced by a much younger demographic.
“Today 80 percent of Long Island City are between the ages of 20 to 50 and it’s not just people,” Carrado said. “Back in the ‘50s we had 10 dogs. Now there are thousands and they even have their own day care centers.”
The new crowd of residents are mostly European and Asian and they have settled in Long Island City for a practical reason, according to Carrado.
“Because of the subways you can be in Manhattan or Brooklyn in five minutes,” he said. “That means you can sleep an extra half hour every morning. When the No. 7 subway is extended to the West Side, you’re going to see an even bigger boom.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2014 Community News Group