Or is it? That’s the question this article aims to answer.
This article will hopefully answer other questions that might interest you. Questions like:
Is Jackson Heights a nice area? Is Jackson Heights a poor neighborhood? What kind of neighborhood is Jackson Heights? Is Jackson Heights subway station safe?
If you want the answers to these questions and more, you will have to read on. At the very least, you’ll get acquainted with a charming, historical, cozy and pleasant neighborhood located in the heart of New York City. Well, maybe not the heart, but at least a main artery.
By the end of this article, you will know definitively the answer to the question: Is Jackson Heights safe?
To understand the present, you must first learn about the past.
A Step Back In Time
Jackson Heights is just over a century old, believe it or not. It was originally conceived as somewhat of a planned community, developed to handle the spillage from Manhattan as the main borough became more and more overpopulated.
Jackson Heights is in Queens, which is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City aka The Big Apple aka The City That Never Sleeps. Manhattan is the borough most closely linked with the legend of New York City in people’s minds from the numerous television shows and movies set there.
Manhattan is an island. So is Staten Island, another of the five boroughs. Rounding out this wild bunch of boroughs are Brooklyn and The Bronx, both arguably more famous than Queens.
Until 1909, Jackson Heights was mostly a vast marsh known as Trains Meadow. Actually, before colonialism, most of the land that makes up New York City was utilized by Native American tribes for hunting and fishing. Then the Queensboro Corporation acquired it.
The area was re-christened Jackson Heights, so named for respected entrepreneur John C. Jackson, a descendant of a prominent pioneer Queens family. In 1916, the area opened for business, gaining renown in 1917 when the Flushing Meadows subway line opened.
Starting in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s, the neighborhood diversified. First, with an influx of artists migrating from the Broadway community in Manhattan. This led to the second largest LGBTQ+ community in all of the five boroughs, behind Greenwich Village in downtown Manhattan, home of the infamous Stonewall Bar.
Then in the 1950s, Jackson Heights received an influx of wealthy Colombian businessmen who were fleeing dangerous conditions in their home country. The neighborhood’s demographic profile broadened further in the 1960s when a change in immigration law known as the “Immigration Reform Act of 1965’ allowed immigrants to settle their families with them, attracting residents from a wider variety of countries in South America.
Presently, Jackson Heights is considered a desirable location for middle and upper class professionals.
The statistics reflect Jackson Heights reputation as an ethnically diverse capital of the five boroughs.
The Jackson Heights neighborhood is twelve percent white, sixteen percent Asian and sixty five percent Hispanic, with five additional percent comprising a mix of other races. The population of Jackson Heights is just over one hundred thousand.
The neighborhood is split pretty evenly by gender, with just over half the population falling in the eighteen to fifty four demo. The average household income is around sixty four thousand per year. This is just about on par with the national average. Only about forty percent of residents have earned higher than a high school diploma.
Heights Is Where The Home Is
Most of Jackson Heights is classified as a historic district. This is due to efforts by a neighborhood organization to revitalize the neighborhood in the nineties.
Due to its history as a planned development, many of the homes in Jackson Heights are co-ops or condominiums. The rent is significantly less than in Manhattan, increasing the desirability of the neighborhood.
The pre-war buildings are conceived and built in styles ranging from French Renaissance to Romanesque and Tudor. Most of them are between four and eight stories tall. For those interested in learning more, there are some groups which sponsor architectural tours of Jackson Heights.
Many of the co-ops and condominiums are built around private parks or have courtyards. In fact, the term ‘garden apartments’ was coined by the Queensboro Corporation as a marketing ploy intended to help sell their buildings.
To Own Or Not To Own
That is the question, isn’t it? That must be what Shakespeare meant to say.
The more affordable housing is found north of Northern Blvd. Not only will you find the aforementioned co-ops, but even some row houses. While prices are still relatively reasonable, they are rising and probably won’t turn back in the other direction any time soon.
If you are going to rent, expect to pay around one thousand seventeen hundred for a studio or possibly a one-bedroom. Get up to four bedrooms and you’re looking at around four thousand, or just below it.
Owning is, naturally, a different story. A one-bedroom will set you back around three hundred thousand, while that four-bedroom will run over a cool mil. But not much over.
Seventy percent of Jackson Heights residents rent their home, while thirty percent are owners. Over half of the residents of Jackson Heights report that there are not too many abandoned or vacant properties and a good variety of homes.
To The Borders And Beyond!
Jackson Heights is in the northwest region of Queens. It is bordered to the east by North Corona, to the west by Woodside and to the south Elmhurst. In the northeast, Jackson Heights is bordered by East Elmhurst. In the northwest, Astoria.
Jackson Heights public transportation needs are mostly served by the 7 subway line. It’s just a twenty minute commute to Manhattan from Jackson Heights on the 7 line. The 7 line is also known as the Flushing Line. You can transfer to some other lines at the Roosevelt Ave and 74th Street Station.
However, bus lines are also stellar. Most bus lines can be caught on Northern Blvd. Sometimes, they are even faster than the subway.
The commute to Wall Street, which is ten miles away, is about an hour by public transportation or car. To downtown Brooklyn, around an hour and ten. Jersey City will take you about one hour twenty.
Another efficient and environmentally friendly way to get around Jackson Heights is cycling. Bike safety is a chief concern in Jackson Heights. Because of a rash of motorist/cyclist accidents, the city plans to expand an already robust network of bike lanes. It is a priority.
Not only that, the cycling network has increased its reach through urban rentals. Citi Bike has a number of docks in Queens, with the best concentration of docking stations found on Steinway Street.
The only thing better for the environment than cycling is recycling!
Jackson Heights swears by the accepted rule of the three R’s: reduce, re use, recycle. There are a number of recycling initiatives in Jackson Heights, including compost collection and sometimes distribution at Green Market, a function of the GrowNYC program, plus places to recycle your batteries, cell phones and other e-waste.
La La Laguardia
One of the most famous and busiest airports in the world is located in Queens, near Jackson Heights. Laguardia Airport says hello and goodbye to around thirty million people a year. It is the third busiest airport in the major metropolitan area, behind JFK and Newark Airport.
Construction of the facilities began in 1929 and the airport began officially operating publicly in 1939. If you live in Jackson Heights, expect to be caught in one flight path or another. The roar of airplane engines overhead is a constant background soundtrack. Good thing most televisions don’t need antennas anymore!
It’s important when viewing a crime map to take into account airport hub zones. The statistics can be at first glance deceiving if you don’t consider that these areas tend to have lower population densities.
Laguardia Airport doesn’t just serve Jackson Heights. It serves plenty of nearby cities as well.
Feel Like a Fun Fact?
Hope you’re in the mood, because here comes a fun fact!
Did you know? The co-inventor of the beloved game Scrabble is from Jackson heights. Yup! He was a former architect named Alfred Mosher Butts. His name alone is a triple word score! Don’t believe it? See for yourself the whimsical street sign where he lived, which is stylized to resemble the letters from the game. The sign hangs at 35th avenue and 81st street.
Other famous faces that reside or have resided, or sometimes grew up in Jackson Heights include Joe Quesada, the mighty Marvel Comics writer and editor who has been instrumental in the direction of the Marvel movies you know and might love.
Besides Quesada, Jackson Heights counts amongst its residents additional celebrities like Susan Sarandon the Oscar-winning actress, Howard Stern the shock jock and John Leguizamo the film star comedian. Who knows who you might run into?
Movies filmed in Jackson Heights include ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Mad Men’. Jackson Heights was also the setting for the America Ferrera sitcom ‘Ugly Betty’. Watch where you walk or you might inadvertently stroll on to a film set!
All Aboard The Attractions!
Jackson Heights is home to plenty of reasons to enjoy the neighborhood.
One of them is the aforementioned Sunday Green Market. Green Market is supported by GrowNYC and can be found every weekend, sun or storm. You can pick up fresh baked bread, fresh organic bread, even seafood and sweet treats! The market is open from 8am to 2pm in the winters and until three in the summertime.
An attractive park in Jackson Heights is Travers Park. It is a two acre park and playground with plenty of sporting facilities, including tennis and basketball courts. It’s on 34th avenue between 77th and 78th streets. Travers Park is where you will find the Green Market.
As for nightlife, well, it’s not particularly jumpin’ jumpin’, as Destiny’s Child would say. Roosevelt Avenue can get a bit hectic on the weekends outside the clubs and bars. There are some options.
La Terraza is a locally owned venue which hosts jazz nights and screenings and is run by an artist. They also feature art shows and workshops.
If you feel like being a dancin’, dancin’ dancin’ machine, as the Jackson Five would say, you came to the right neighborhood! Salsa and other forms of Latin American boogie are on display at places like Hairo’s Night Club and D’Antigua.
The Biggest Threat in Jackson Heights
Maybe Jackson Heights is safe, maybe it’s not. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, a warning. Jackson Heights showcases a bigger threat: the danger of overeating! Talk about a foodie In paradise. There are more places to sample world cuisine in Jackson Heights than there are countries in South America!
Jackson Heights cuisine is so diverse and delicious that even celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain came around, featuring Jackson Heights in a segment on his ‘Parts Unknown’ CNN television series!
Start with the Queen of the neighborhood, the Arepa lady. Best known for her food truck, she now runs a brick and mortar store too and is somewhat of a local celebrity.
Empanadas more your thing? Don’t despair. Seba Seba’s offers the empanadas so tiny and adorable you’ll just want to eat them right up! Or at Mama’s you can choose from over fifty kinds of empanada!
There’s Ecuadorian cuisine, Peruvian cuisine, Churros…oh my! Hornado offers heapin’ helpings of roast pork and you can wash it all down with a Colombian Fruit Cocktail at one of many places in the neighborhood.
A Little Bit Of Everything
Diversity is a mark of pride for Jackson Heights. The same immigration act that brought Latin American flair to the neighborhood also attracted denizens from other parts of the world. In Jackson Heights you can wander through Little Bangladesh, Little India and Little Pakistan all in a matter of blocks.
In Jackson Heights you can sample just as diverse cuisine. There’s almost as many places to eat as there are in countries in Asia! For a peaceful Zen snack, try a Tibetan Momo cart for dumplings. Amdo Kitchen is another Tibetan joint. At Kababish, a Pakistani joint, try the spicy loose meat delicacy gola kabab with some naan or paratha.
For a quick lunch, Sammy’s Halal Food will do the trick while Indian and vegetarian dishes can be enjoyed at Samudra’s on 37th Ave. If you want your meal to be something simpler and more casual, with a variety of choices on the menu, try Jackson Diner, which has been serving Jackson Heights Indian cuisine for over thirty five years.
After all that stuffing your tummy, you might need a good ol’ cup of Joe. The pretty much unanimously considered best coffee can be sipped at Espresso 77. For can’t go wrong pizza, the best slice is at Louies. For dessert, Cannelle Patisserie, a bakery which has served tasty treats to dignitaries, presidents and now you!
Jackson Heights might be considered one of the strongest arguments in favor of robust immigration policy because of all the fantastic folks from all over sharing their recipes with us.
But Is Jackson Heights Safe?
Now the answer to the question you came here for. Is Jackson Heights safe? Yes, Jackson Heights is considered relatively safe.
It wasn’t so hot for a while in the seventies, gaining a dubious nickname: ‘the cocaine capital’. But crime has been decreasing for some time now. Major crimes are down seventy six percent. Murder even more, down eighty six percent. Car thefts and burglaries have decreased over eighty percent.
Crime in Jackson Heights is just one percent higher than the national average. It is safer than forty five percent of other cities in New York. You have a one in forty three chance of becoming a crime victim in Jackson Heights and a one in one hundred thirty four chance of being a victim of violent crime.
Jackson Heights is patrolled by the 115th precinct of the New York City Police Department.
Raking In The Rankings
Jackson Heights ranks among the most diverse places to live in New York City and one of the best neighborhoods for young professionals in New York City, as well as one of the best places to raise a family..
In recent polls, thirty three percent equally responded that the best phrases to describe people who live in Jackson Heights are ‘family-oriented’ and ‘very much at home’, as well as agreeing that the neighborhood is ‘progressive’.
The top two tips for people moving to Jackson Heights, according to recent polls, are ‘get involved in the community’ and ‘learn Spanish’, followed closely by ‘find a trustworthy laundromat’ and ‘get to know your neighbors’.
Sixty eight percent of those polled say there is a good sense of community, while fifty percent of respondents said the LGBTQ community is accepted.
Sixty seven percent of respondents said the Jackson Heights cost of living is excellent and that goods, services and housing are all very affordable. One hundred percent responded that costs of living decreases are actually on the rise!
About thirty percent of respondents to recent polls think the area has very little crime. On the other hand, thirty percent think crime rates are poor. Many do not feel particularly safe walking alone at night, unfortunately, though close to half feel fairly safe.
About a quarter of respondents feel the police are very visible while another quarter thinks they are not so visible but always quick to respond. Another thirty percent are not so pleased with police efforts.
Let’s Hear It From The Locals
What do residents of Jackson Heights have to say themselves? Time to take a look.
Jackson Heights residents say it is a beautiful place to live amongst a happy community that is always in a good mood. A great place to raise children with something always going on.
Residents also note the diversity, saying you won’t hear much English seeing as over one hundred thirty languages are spoken in the area. They also call the neighborhood convenient.
They do admit real estate prices could be better. There is still some concern over safety at certain busy intersections. As with anywhere in a big metropolis like New York City, stay alert and you should be ok.
Well, now you know if Jackson Heights is safe. Mission accomplished!