New York 6th District
The eastern edge of Queens has been an important transportation hub for New York for almost 250 years. In the 1750s, the British laid out what is now Jamaica Avenue to help them defend Long Island. In the 1830s—nearly a century before most present-day commuters would have guessed—the Long Island Rail Road was built. Today, this corner of Queens is sliced by the Belt Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway—two integral parts of Robert Moses’s midcentury highway network. And it is home to John F. Kennedy International Airport, a major hub for air travelers entering the United States. The neighborhood of Jamaica is so well situated with transportation links that officials have worked mightily to improve its commercial vitality. The old elevated subway line on Jamaica Avenue has been buried underground, so that shoppers have a less claustrophobic experience. Now, billions of dollars are being spent for a Long Island Rail Road line from Queens to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Property seizures have prompted citizen protests, but the massive project has spurred downtown revitalization in Jamaica.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
This part of Queens is home to New York City’s largest concentration of middle-class black homeowners, with a median income higher than white households in Queens. A half-century ago, there was a small black community in South Jamaica, and since then many African-American families have bought houses and raised their families in neighborhoods that fan east from Jamaica. They fought to maintain the relatively spacious streets, relishing the plenitude of natural light, safe schools, and good neighborhood stores. There is block upon block of low-rise, frame and brick houses, built mostly from the 1920s to the 1950s, in the neighborhoods of Springfield Gardens and Laurelton (the home of financial-scam mastermind Bernard Madoff), St. Albans and Rosedale, Cambria Heights and Queens Village. These middle-class areas never experienced the kind of riots that damaged Harlem and parts of Brooklyn.
The 6th Congressional District of New York contains all of these southeast Queens neighborhoods, plus others less affluent and orderly in southern Queens. It is bounded on the north, more or less, by Jackie Robinson Parkway; on the east by the Nassau County line; and on the west by Cross Bay Boulevard. To the south, it includes part of the Rockaway Peninsula across Jamaica Bay from the rest of Queens. Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, previously white ethnic neighborhoods, now have sizable numbers of Latinos and Asians. South Ozone Park is home to many immigrants from Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago. Despite being just a few blocks from the beach, the Rockaway portions of the district are a relatively undeveloped backwater, leveled by urban renewal in the late 1960s but never completely rebuilt. The 6th District is 52% African-American, 17% Hispanic, and 13% Asian. The common denominator is the amount of time that residents spend on the road: The district is among the nation’s worst for commuters, at 41.7 minutes of mean travel time to work. Politically, the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.