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What Queens looked like in the 1980s: A Photographic Journey through Neighborhoods, Landmarks, and Everyday Moments

Queens in the 1980s wasn’t just a borough of New York City; it was a world of its own. From the bustling streets of Flushing to the quiet neighborhoods of Bayside. Let’s rewind and explore what made Queens so unique during this vibrant decade.

Life in Queens was a mix of urban convenience and suburban calm. Many families resided in single-family homes with yards, enjoying a sense of community often missing in Manhattan. Tree-lined streets, parks, and playgrounds provided spaces for kids to play and neighbors to connect.

Commuting to Manhattan was a common way of life for many residents. The subway system, with its elevated lines snaking through neighborhoods, was the lifeline connecting Queens to the rest of the city. The Long Island Rail Road offered another option for commuters, whisking them away to Penn Station in a matter of minutes.

Sounds of the City

The 1980s in Queens was a time of musical exploration and expression. Hip-hop, born in the Bronx, found fertile ground in Queens. Run-DMC, hailing from Hollis, became global superstars, their beats and rhymes echoing the borough’s energy and diversity. LL Cool J, from Bayside, further cemented Queens’ place in the hip-hop scene with his smooth lyrics and undeniable charisma.

But Queens wasn’t just about hip-hop. The Ramones, punk rock pioneers, originated from Forest Hills, their rebellious sound reflecting the angst and energy of the era. Jazz musician John Coltrane resided in the Addisleigh Park neighborhood of St. Albans, leaving a lasting legacy on the borough’s musical landscape.

From Shea Stadium to Flushing Meadows

Sports were a major part of life in Queens. Shea Stadium, home to the New York Mets, was a mecca for baseball fans. The roar of the crowd, the smell of hot dogs, and the thrill of a home run created an unforgettable experience. The stadium also hosted major concerts, attracting legendary acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a sprawling green space, offered a different kind of recreation. The iconic Unisphere, a remnant of the 1964 World’s Fair, stood as a symbol of Queens’ global spirit. The park provided a venue for various activities, from leisurely walks to family picnics to exciting events like the US Open tennis tournament.

A Foodie’s Paradise

One simply couldn’t talk about Queens without mentioning its food scene. The borough’s diverse population brought an incredible array of culinary delights. Greek tavernas in Astoria served up delicious souvlaki and gyros, while Italian restaurants in Little Neck offered classic pasta dishes and pizzas.

Jackson Heights was a treasure trove of international flavors. From Colombian arepas to Tibetan momos, the options were endless. Flushing’s Chinatown was a haven for dim sum lovers, with countless restaurants serving steaming baskets of dumplings and other delicacies.

#2 “Redbird” cars laid up in the Flushing Yard, Queens, 1980.

#3 The original Han Ah Reum Asian supermarket in Woodside, Queens, New York City, showing sale stickers and food cartons outside, 1982.

#4 The Bathhouse at Jacob Riis Park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area on the Rockaway Peninsula in New York, 1980s.

#5 Two runners as they pass the 14-mile marker on Crescent Street during the New York City Marathon, Queens, 1980.

#6 Majorettes from an elementary school marching band on Grand Avenue during the Memorial Day parade in Maspeth, Queens, 1981.

#7 Majorettes from a youth marching band work their routine during the Memorial Day parade in Maspeth, Queens, 1981.

#8 A vendor sells framed artwork from the back of a van in Rego Park, Queens, 1981.

#9 A vendor sells western hats from the back of a station wagon in Rego Park, Queens, 1981.

#10 People browse vendor’s tables at an outdoor flea market in Maspeth, Queens, 1981.

#11 Francesco’s Italian Sausage truck sells sausages, hot dogs, and knishes in Rego Park, Queens, 1981.

#12 A vendor sells stuffed animals, 8-track tapes, and cassettes in Rego Park, Queens, 1981.

#13 People browse vendor’s tables at an outdoor flea market in Maspeth, Queens, 1981.

#14 People browse vendor’s tables at an outdoor flea market in Maspeth, Queens, 1981.

#15 Spectators watch a Little League baseball game at the Fleet Street Fields in Rego Park, Queens, 1981.

#16 Graffiti on a retaining wall features an ocean-themed mural with Mickey Mouse and Lucille’s Beauty Parlor, Corona, Queens, 1982.

#17 X&P Grocery, Likavitos Gift Shop, and Bel Paese Pizzeria on National Street in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#18 Elevated subway tracks at the intersection of 45th Avenue and National Street in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#19 Residential buildings at the intersection of 108th Street and 36th Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#20 A vehicle parked next to a retaining wall covered in street art in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#21 Vehicular traffic on the Grand Central Parkway in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#22 Tom’s Latticini market, Leonard’s Bake Shop, Star Barbara, and National Meats on 102nd Street in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#23 A staircase leads to the elevated subway line at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and National Street in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#24 Masjid Al-Falah Islamic Center on National Street in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#25 Dilapidated and graffiti-covered cement staircases lead to residential homes on 37th Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#26 Dilapidated and graffiti-covered cement staircases lead to residential homes on 37th Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#27 Fans enter Shea Stadium before an opening day baseball game in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#28 Two people walk a child across the intersection of National Street and Roosevelt Avenue near an elevated subway line in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#29 Fans watch an opening day baseball game from outside Shea Stadium in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#30 A boy looks over the edge of an elevated pedestrian walkway over the Shea Stadium parking lot in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#31 The ‘Diamond Vision’ video screen is visible from the upper deck of Shea Stadium during an opening day baseball game in Corona, Queens, 1982.

#32 A stranded car, city bus, and other vehicles on Queens Boulevard in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#33 Stranded vehicles on Queens Boulevard in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#34 A car embedded in snow on 63rd Drive in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#35 A stranded city bus and other vehicles on Queens Boulevard in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#36 Pedestrians walk through snow on Queens Boulevard at the 63rd Drive intersection in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#37 A couple walks arm in arm under a Long Island Rail Road trestle on 63rd Drive in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#38 Stranded vehicles on Queens Boulevard in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#39 People attempt to free a vehicle from deep snow on 63rd Drive in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#40 Parked cars buried in deep snow along 64th Road in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#41 Stranded cars and a city bus on Queens Boulevard in the aftermath of a blizzard in Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#42 Street traffic under the elevated subway tracks at the intersection of 108th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#43 Businesses on 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Queens, including a used bookstore, Tony’s Pizza, and Austin-Regal Laundry and Dry Cleaners, 1984.

#44 View looking east along Queens Boulevard at the 63rd Drive intersection in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#45 A commuter parking lot on Junction Boulevard, near the Horace Harding Expressway overpass, in Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#46 Retail shops at the southeast corner of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#47 Street traffic under the elevated subway tracks at the intersection of 108th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#48 Retail shops at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Wetherole Street in Rego Park, Queens, including Levy’s Israeli Falafel and Pizzeria and the Gallery 63 art shop, 1984.

#49 A Spanish-American Market at the corner of 108th Street and 37th Drive in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#50 Stairs leading to the elevated subway line on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#51 Businesses on 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Queens, including Baba Catering and Nite Club, Kasa Nova Unisex Hair Cutters, and a branch of the Queens Borough public library, 1984.

#52 Graffiti on a retaining wall along 45th Avenue in Corona, Queens, featuring Mickey Mouse with an anti-littering message, 1984.

#53 Businesses at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Austin Street in Rego Park, Queens, including the Sunny Fruit & Vegetables market and Wong’s Chinese & American restaurant, 1984.

#54 Veteran’s Square park and businesses along 102nd street in Corona, Queens, including National Meats and the Open Air Market, 1984.

#55 View looking north towards Roosevelt Avenue, from the intersection of National and 102nd streets in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#56 The elevated subway line at the intersection of 45th Avenue and National Street in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#57 Alexander’s Department Store at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#58 Retail shops at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Alderton Street in Rego Park, Queens, including Gotham Home Decor and the Mary Q boutique, 1984.

#59 Businesses at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Booth Street in Rego Park, Queens, including the New Greenery market and the Golden Star Restaurant, 1984.

#60 View looking north towards Roosevelt Avenue, from the intersection of National and 103rd streets in Corona, Queens, 1984.

#61 Josh Herman, “Smiling Josh the Clown”, practices juggling for the season’s grand opening of Rockaways’ Playland in Queens, 1984.

#62 A pedestrian crosses the intersection of 57th Avenue at 90th Street in Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#63 Motorists at the gas pumps of a Gulf station on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#64 Pedestrians in front of the Sunny Fruit & Vegetables market at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Austin Street in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#65 A Dunkin Donuts shop at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#66 A Mobil gas station at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 64th Road, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#67 A young fan looks over the edge of an elevated pedestrian walkway over the Shea Stadium parking lot during a baseball game, Corona, Queens, 1982.

#68 View from the upper deck of Shea Stadium during a baseball game, Corona, Queens, 1982.

#69 Stranded vehicles along Queens Boulevard after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#70 Stranded vehicles on Queens Boulevard after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#71 A car embedded in snow on 63rd Drive after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#72 Stranded vehicles along Queens Boulevard after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#73 Pedestrians walk through snow in the aftermath of a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#74 A couple walks arm in arm under a Long Island Rail Road trestle after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#75 Stranded vehicles along Queens Boulevard after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#76 People attempt to free a vehicle from deep snow after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#77 Parked cars buried in deep snow along 64th Road after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#78 Stranded cars and a city bus on Queens Boulevard after a blizzard, Rego Park, Queens, 1983.

#79 Street traffic under the elevated subway tracks at the intersection of 108th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#80 Businesses on 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#81 Queens Boulevard at the 63rd Drive intersection, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#82 A commuter parking lot on Junction Boulevard near the Horace Harding Expressway overpass, Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#83 Retail shops at the southeast corner of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#84 Street traffic under the elevated subway tracks at the intersection of 108th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#85 Retail shops at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Wetherole Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#86 A Spanish-American Market at the corner of 108th Street and 37th Drive, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#87 The stairs leading to the elevated subway line on Roosevelt Avenue, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#88 Businesses on 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#89 Graffiti on a retaining wall along 45th Avenue, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#90 Businesses at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Austin Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#91 Veteran’s Square park and businesses along 102nd street, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#92 The intersection of National and 102nd streets, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#93 The elevated subway line at the intersection of 45th Avenue and National Street, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#94 Alexander’s Department Store at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#95 Retail shops at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Alderton Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#96 Businesses at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Booth Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#97 The intersection of National and 103rd streets, Corona, Queens, 1984.

#98 “Smiling Josh the Clown” practices his juggling act for the season’s grand opening of Rockaways’ Playland in Queens, 1984.

#99 Motorists at the gas pumps of a Gulf station on Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#100 Pedestrians in front of the Sunny Fruit & Vegetables market at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Austin Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#101 A Dunkin Donuts shop at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Drive, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#102 A Mobil Gas Station at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 64th Road, Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#103 A pedestrian crosses the intersection of 57th Avenue at 90th Street, Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#104 A street vendor waits to sell flowers from buckets on the Queens Boulevard median, Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#105 Pedestrians and shoppers in front of Jalar, ‘The Everything Store’, in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#106 Commuters board the Green Bus Lines’ Q60 bus on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, Queens, 1984.

#107 Pedestrians at the corner of Queens and Junction boulevards in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#108 Pedestrians cross Queens Boulevard at the 63rd Drive intersection in Rego Park, Queens, 1984.

#109 People sit along the stone wall next to the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#110 Two children enter Flushing Meadows Park in Corona, Queens, 1986.

#111 A family relaxes on the grass in Flushing Meadows Park in Corona, Queens, 1986.

#112 Aerobics instructors work their routine in a boxing ring in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#113 A young girl sits on the lap of ‘Mickey Mouse’ in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#114 People lie on the grass in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#115 People on the foot paths in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#116 A woman crouches on the grass beside a toddler sleeping in a stroller in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#117 Baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#118 Baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#119 Baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#120 Baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#121 A man and a young boy sit on the flatbed of a lumber truck parked outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#122 Two baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#123 Baseball fans wait outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#124 A group of baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#125 Two baseball fans tailgate in a parking lot outside Shea Stadium before game six of the 1986 World Series, Corona, Queens, 1986.

#126 A pair of women and a young boy look at a baby in the arms of a man near vendor stalls in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1988.

#127 A boy on a bicycle stops to watch musicians perform traditional Hindustani music in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1988.

#128 Two boys lie on the ground in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1988.

#129 A man stands on a footpath in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1988.

#130 A group of people talk in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1988.

#131 Fans tailgating before game six of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium, Queens, 1980s.

#132 A family relaxes on the grass in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#133 People relax on the lawn in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#134 A man sits in a chair with a radio in his lap in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#135 People wait in line in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#136 Players and spectators watch a baseball game in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#137 People relax on the lawn in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#138 People gather on the lawn, footpaths, and recreational areas in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#139 People walk over a pedestrian bridge in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#140 A man carries a child on his shoulders in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#141 People crowd on a footpath in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#142 People sit on a park bench as a woman combs a child’s hair in Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens, 1980.

#143 Pedestrians look at racks of clothing during a sidewalk sale on Queens Boulevard, 1980.

#144 A runner passes the 14-mile marker on Crescent Street during the New York City Marathon, Queens, 1980.

Written by Wendy Robert

Brand journalist, Ghostwriter and Proud New Yorker. New York is not a city โ€“ itโ€™s a world.

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