Long Island City
Long Island City has gone through a major transformation. When I moved out of my hometown of Bayside (a neighborhood in Eastern Queens) in 1997, I moved to this fledgling neighborhood with old, defunct factories, street art (the Phun Phactory, later to be renamed 5 Pointz), a short commute (1 stop to Manhattan), and dirt cheap rent (my share of the rent was $350).
I remember when the first condos were in the process of being built, and they remained vacant for a long time. At that time, there were no amenities in the neighborhood so it was a pretty tough sell.
This weekend was the Queens Beer Fest at LIC Flea, which was a great day of seasonal tastings. While on the way from the 23rd Ely stop to the event, I walked past my old apartment building, a four-story walk up on 44th Drive. It looks exactly the same, whereas many of the old rowhouses on the surrounding blocks have been torn down and modernized for the gentrifiers who came in long after I left the area. On Vernon, there was some great street art with a Halloween vibe, and then we made it to the event.
One thing about Queens, no matter how "hip" its gotten in recent years, is that its a true working class borough. Sure, you can put up a ton of luxury condos up, but there's this authentic, true New York vibe that runs through the veins here.