GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: District 20

District 20 - Flushing



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District 20 - John Liu
City Hall Office:
250 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
City Hall: (212)788-7022

District Office:
135-27 38th Avenue, Suite 388
Flushing, NY 11354
District: (718) 888-8747
Fax: (718) 888-0331
Email: liu@council.nyc.ny.us

Committee Assignments:
Transportation, Chair
Consumer Affairs, member
Contracts, member
Education, member
Oversight and Investigations, member


As Flushing Goes. So Goes New York

By John Liu

A sacred chariot, an important religious relic belonging to a Flushing Hindu temple, was destroyed by arson a few weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center. This incident, which is being investigated as a bias attack, was a devastating loss for the growing Hindu community in Flushing. However, I believe this act of cowardice has wider implications for the city and its future.

Will New York City burn up under the pressures of ethnic strife and animosity, widening income gaps and joblessness, and the spiraling hopelessness and fear engendered by the current recession and the September 11th attack? Or, will we -- as a community of shared interests -- rise to the occasion and develop the institutions of civic engagement and the new engines of economic growth that will save us?

I was elected to represent a district encompassing parts of Auburndale, Fresh Meadows, Harding Heights, Kissena Park, Mitchell Gardens, Queensboro Hill, and Whitestone. Flushing has a unique history as a sanctuary for those seeking greater freedom. As the site of the first settlement of Quakers (fleeing the repression of New Amsterdam) and one of the first settlements of free Blacks in the city, Flushing has a proud tradition of tolerance and respect for cultural diversity.

For decades, this proud tradition welcomed generations of Irish, Italian, and Jewish and other immigrants. Unfortunately, the latest wave of immigrants from Korea, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and hundreds of other places around the world has not fared as well. Instead of welcome arms, these newer immigrants face the blame for many of Flushing's ills- crowded schools, dirty streets, skyrocketing rents, illegal subdivisions, and the likes - ills that resulted from Flushing's rapid transformation from a declining backwater to the fourth largest commercial district in New York City. Clearly, a great deal of work lies ahead in bringing people together and resolving these problems with increased law enforcement and expanded city services.

Where do we go from here? Flushing is a city within a city. In the midst of prosperity and growth, there is also a rising tension fed by fear and distrust of the unknown. What happens here will have wider implications for the entire metropolis. New York City's official population grew to eight million largely as a result of immigration that took place in the 1990's. Yet our political institutions and economic policies have not fully adapted to this changing reality. As we continue to grow and diversify as a city - one where Latino and Asian immigrants will play an increasingly critical role - we need to envision new relationships and new institutions that will allow all New Yorkers to prosper.

As the new City Council begins its deliberations, we are doubly challenged. With the current recession and budget crisis, City Hall must find innovative ways to do more with less. Furthermore, each step we take must also attempt to stem the tide of division and fear that have resulted from the massive demographic and economic changes to our landscape. Here are a few examples. Taking advantage of technological change, free or low-cost wireless networks are popping up around the country. Why not use these networks in our neighborhoods to link members of the community with local merchants, nonprofit organizations and municipal services? What about the digital divide? The council should work with the mayor and the private sector to donate surplus computers (and provide technical assistance) to our local schoo ls and community groups. These types of low cost policies would not only encourage economic growth in places like Flushing, but could potentially build relationships between a community and the artists, scholars, and merchants that make New York the capital of the world.

In the next few months, our city government will need to make a number of tough decisions. As New Yorkers begin to rebuild the city, we need to rethink our economic development policies. Do we prioritize subsidies for the financial sector and sports stadiums? What are the alternatives to recreating a monoculture economy that is so profoundly tied to the vagaries of a global business cycle? Such alternatives exist in a diverse array of urban centers where small businesses and industries flourish. Flushing, for example, has a dynamic downtown and untapped waterfront that could be further developed to generate additional tax revenues - so we can build schools, senior housing and other sorely needed facilities. We need to explore public policies that draw on the successful experiments waged throughout the diverse urban ecology that is New York City.

These types of initiatives are important because, not only do they focus on the bottom line, they speak to the needs of all New Yorkers. We need to find a way to draw out all people around a common agenda of renewed civic engagement and shared economic development. As Flushing goes, so does the rest of the city. Flushing is significant for the wider implications it has for New York City and the ability of our political leadership to revitalize our vision as a symbiotic community with a shared past and future. With its wealth of physical resources and cultural diversity, Flushing can lead the way in healing the ethnic and class tensions that have been building up or fan the flames of a growing conflagration.

John Liu is City Council Member-Elect from District 20 in Queens, the first Asian-American to be elected to the City Council.
--updated December 17, 2001


Community Boards for District 20
Community Board No. 7
45-35 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 359-2800
Mr. Eugene T. Kelty, Jr., Chair
Ms. Marilyn Bitterman, District Manager



Community Plans for District 20 (PDF format)
197-c plan (Queens Community Board 7)




Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration


Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration


Public Schools

Elementary Schools


Middle Schools


High Schools

To find out what school district you live in, call the Board of Education at 718-935-2000 or link to Public School Reports



Police Precincts

Although many precincts cover areas solely within one City Council district, there are many which overlap with other districts. In most cases the overlap of precincts among districts is no more than a few blocks. Wherever there is overlap, we have made sure to alert you.

  • 109th Precinct (Covers most of district 20 and a small part of district 19)
  • 111th Precinct (Covers most of district 19 and small parts of district 20 and district 23)

City Parks
Click thumbnail for larger image of parks in this district

Learn more about the condition of the city parks in your district at the New Yorkers for Parks (PDF file).



Community Gardens



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Find out more about community gardens from
the Council on the Environment of New York City



Historic Districts and Landmarks
Learn more about the historic districts and landmarks in this area.