As the world prepares to bid adieu to 2015, QNS.com looks back at the big stories in Queens that defined the year…
We’re Number 1—2015 actually began a few weeks before the end of 2014 with the World’s Borough finally being recognized as the best place to visit in the U.S. by respected travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet. It was a distinction residents have known for some time. Noted for its diversity, Rockaway Beach and its art institutions, Queens was also cited for its boutique hotels and burgeoning microbreweries, and compared to Manhattan as a place for people to base themselves and their businesses. Said one Lonely Planet contributor and New York City resident of Queens, “There are so many great secrets … you never run out of things to do and see.”
Visit from the Vatican—The Pope’s stop in Queens in September may have been brief but the passion and reverence from the Borough’s faithful was tremendous. A spiritual celebration among the lucky attendees, with tenor Daniel Rodriguez singing hymns and various members of the clergy leading the gathering in reciting prayers of the rosary, preceded The Pontiff’s arrival at JFK Airport. Xaverian High School marching band played “New York, New York” and gifts were presented to Francis from a group of five children—two of whom hail from Queens—before The Pope was whisked away to Manhattan. Brief, perhaps, but unforgettable and a seminal moment nonetheless.
Boys of Autumn—It was the dawn of a new century the last time the Mets went to the World Series and there was little indication that they’d be returning in 2015. But the triple threat rotation of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom and superstar play by Yoenis Céspedes surprised the National League and led the team to the playoffs, where they bested the Los Angeles Dodgers in five before sweeping the Chicago Cubs to face the Kansas City Royals in the Series, where they were defeated in five. Still, post-season baseball was back in the Borough and the future looks bright, heading into 2016.
Final Chapter—Scarcely had the shock of the Forest Hills Barnes and Noble closing started to dissipate, when news came of the imminent closing of the struggling bookstore chain’s remaining location in Queens, that being in Bayside. Residents in both neighborhoods went into paroxysms of rage, picketing their respective locations. But even online petitions could not prevent the demise of the once-dominant book purveyor.
Rail Thing—The Borough’s longest subway line became even longer with the opening of the 7 Train expansion in September. The often maligned subway line now runs from Main Street Station in Flushing to the Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side, the first and only subway to take passengers to the Big Apple’s major convention space, much to the joy of comics aficionados’ the city over, as its completion coincided with the annual funny book Bacchanalia, New York Comic Con.
What’s Shakin’?—Forest Hills may have lost its book seller, but it gained a burger seller with the opening of the first Shake Shack in Queens. The legendary New York City eatery, which originated in Madison Square Park in 2000, is almost as famous for its never-ending lines as it was for its namesake shakes. The beloved chain—one of the fastest growing businesses since its inception—went public in 2014, opening at $21 a share and immediately soaring to more than double that at $47. The new Forest Hills location joins a growing empire of nearly 70 stores around the globe.
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