New York 5th District
Queens is to most Americans the mystery borough, little explored even by many Manhattanites, although it contains both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports. Some of it is almost suburban: Bayside, Douglaston, and Little Neck are upper-middle-income neighborhoods far beyond the subway lines, with detached houses with driveways and views across the water. Other Queens neighborhoods are more modest, with houses crowded together and plain-Jane apartment buildings lining the avenues. In the past two decades, Queens has become the No. 1 immigrant destination in New York City. Corona was once predominantly Italian and African-American (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Malcolm X lived here). Today, there is a large Latin American community, with many Dominican immigrants and also many Asians—a modern-day melting pot. Flushing, long a modest-income Jewish and white ethnic neighborhood, is now the biggest Asian neighborhood in the city. West of 138th Street, Queens is dominated by Taiwanese and ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand; shops have a more urban “Chinatown” feel and feature an amazing variety of delicacies. (New York City has three Chinatowns—one each in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the largest in Queens.) East of 138th Street is predominantly Korean, with development following a more suburban pattern. As Chinese businesses moved into Flushing’s Main Street commercial strip, Korean storeowners moved east to Union Street, a major north-south artery, and to Northern Boulevard. In most of the years since 2004, the area has been represented in the state Assembly by either Chinese businessman Jimmy Meng from Flushing or his daughter, Grace Meng. The city’s most ambitious Asian politician may be City Council member John Liu of Flushing, who ran for city comptroller in 2009. Just east of Flushing and its large new condominium development is Flushing Meadow, the huge drainage basin and former dumping ground that hosted two World’s Fairs (1939 and 1964) and now is home to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, a new Mets baseball park, and endless pickup soccer games played among Queens’ many immigrant groups.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Just a few miles but a world away is the North Shore of Long Island. For a century it has had an upper-crust ambiance—peninsulas jutting out into Long Island Sound, vast green lawns, and the great capitalist mansions that inspired East Egg and West Egg in The Great Gatsby. In the 19th century, millionaires commuted from Manhattan to their estates on steam yachts. During Prohibition, the richest people in business and entertainment spent their leisure time playing croquet while their servants unloaded bootleggers’ shipments at private docks. By the middle of the 20th century, the city had encroached, and the Great Neck and Sands Point peninsulas became affluent, predominantly Jewish suburbs with stately Tudor homes. Lately, many wealthy Asians have moved here.
The 5th Congressional District of New York takes in this territory in Queens and suburban Nassau County. The district includes most of Queens east of Flushing Meadow and north of Union Turnpike—Flushing, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck (but not the airports). And it includes the northwest corner of Nassau County—Great Neck, super-rich Sands Point, Lake Success, Port Washington, and Kings Point, home of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The district’s population is 29% Asian and 24% Hispanic. Sixty percent of the people speak a language other than English at home. Both the Queens and Nassau County portions of the district have long voted heavily Democratic.