New York City subway ridership annually exceeds 2.3 billion and out of all the subway lines, none give a better tour of Queens than the 7 line. It operates between Times Square, Manhattan and Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Along the way you’ll pass through multiple ethnic enclaves and get a perfect cross-section of one of the most diverse counties in the world.
Below are some notable stops, in order, that are worth checking out. Even if you can’t catch a professional tour, you’ll soon see why the 7 line has long been dubbed the “International Express”:
♦ Flushing – Main Street: “NYC’s best Chinatown and Koreatown”
Where better to start (or end) your journey than at Main Street? Flushing is home to almost 220,000 people and nearly 80 percent of its population is Asian. Flushing also boasts a Chinatown and Koreatown that far exceed Manhattan’s and its Chinese and Korean immigrant populations surpassed Manhattan’s yeeears ago. Step outside of the subway terminal and it’s impossible not to bump into some little dumpling eatery or fruit stand selling dubious looking edibles. (Psst, need more ideas? There might be something here to help: hint, hint, and hint.)
♦ Mets – Willets Point: “Come for the Mets… stay for the Unisphere”
Before the name change to Citi Field, the New York Mets called Shea Stadium home. Save your money on tickets and have a day of free fun at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Aside from its sprawling green, the park also has a zoo, science museum, marina, two lakes, an ice skating rink, lots of soccer pitches, and a couple cricket fields. You’ll also find the Unisphere, a 140-foot high steel globe anod it’s almost a guarantee that somebdy around you will point out that it was the site of the final battle scene in Men in Black.
♦ 82nd Street – Jackson Heights: “Don’t mind the rumble”
You won’t see Popeye Doyle in Jackson Heights but the rumbling subways overhead create a claustrophobic atmosphere straight out of French Connection. The neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst are home to a huge Latino community and the results are simply delicioso. Authentic Mexican taco trucks, Argentinian bakeries (dulce de leche filled pastries amirite?), and Ecuadorian pupuserias await you. Music spills out of every store and eatery so burn off your meal with an impromptu dance party.
♦ 74th Street – Broadway: “Little India”
♦ 40th Street – Lowery Street: “The melting pot’s melting pot”
Sunnyside was once more than slightly seedy but lately gentrification has been sinking its beanie-wearing, PBR-sipping, fixie-bike-riding teeth into the small neighborhood. Despite the changes, one thing remains constant — Sunnyside is tasty. Turkish halal, Paraguayan empanadas, Irish pub fare, and Korean tofu stew all within a few blocks… does it get any better than that? Hopefully the imminent food coma distracts you from the growing number of Sunnysiders wearing those freaky foot gloves.
Even if you’re simply on the 7 to transfer to another line, on any given morning the breakfasts alone span the globe — hot arroz con leche, Chinese steamed buns, and the customary bagel and cup o’ joe all sitting next to each other. Trying to hit all of the above stops will result in a hefty MetroCard fee but hey, it beats taking an embarrassing passport photo and getting groped by disinterested TSA.