Guide to Queens: Queens’ cultural diversity continues to be a staple of the borough’s tourism

Photo by Fabrice Demessence

When Queens was designated as the top destination in the United States by the travel magazine Lonely Planet in 2015 cultural diversity was cited as a main reason.

The spotlight fell on the borough’s museums, performance venues and cultural institutions showing there is something for every taste in every corner of the borough.

Astoria Performing Arts Center

One of the crown jewels of the Kaufman Astoria Art District, the Astoria Performing Arts Center presents high-quality theater while supporting local youth and senior citizens. APAC also offers free community programs, including a summer performance camp for children age 8 to 13, after-school playwriting classes for middle school students, and acting for those over age 60 at 34-12 36th St.

Flushing Town Hall

Built in 1862 and designated a landmark in 1967, Flushing Town Hall once served as a civic hub but has evolved into a dynamic cultural venue presenting award-winning performing and visual arts programming, including theater, jazz, classical and world music in its stunning 308-seat concert hall and theater.

Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd., also features a tranquil garden that hosts everything from free concerts to yoga classes.

Black Spectrum Theatre Company

Founded in 1970, The Black Spectrum Theatre Company in Jamaica, produces and prevents works relating to the African Diaspora at its 328-seat theater located at 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard.

The venue is within 54-acre Roy Wilkins Park.

Jamaica Performing Arts Center

Nearby is the Jamaica Performing Arts Center housed in a landmarked 1858 First Reformed Dutch Church with a multi-functional, state-of-the-art, 400-seat theater located at 153-10 Jamaica Ave.

Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts

Located on the Queens College campus in Flushing, the Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts encompasses three venues: the acoustically perfect LeFrak Concert Hall, the Colden Auditorium and the Irving and Susan Wallack Goldstein Theater. Kupferberg presents a wide range of entertainment to about 350,000 patrons each year.

Forest Hills Stadium

Built in 1923, Forest Hills Stadium enjoyed its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s as a home the the U.S. Open tennis tournament that was also used for concerts by Forest Hills High School graduates Simon & Garfunkel as well as The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand before it was shuttered in the mid 1990s due to financial concerns. Following a $3 million renovation in 2013 the site reopened and has hosted concerts by The Who, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and Mumford and Sons.

Thalia Spanish Theatre

The borough’s only bilingual Latino venue, Thalia Spanish Theatre is dedicated to promoting and preserving the heritage of Hispanic drama.

The 100-seat theater also promotes Spanish-language playwrights, dancers, and folklorists at 41-17 Greenpoint Ave.
in Sunnyside.

Queens Museum

History lovers are drawn to the Queens Museum which was constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, the venue hosted the United Nations General Assembly which created the state of Israel in British-occupied Palestine in 1947.

The Museum reopened in 2013 after a $69 million renovation extra galleries, studios for resident artists and a sky-lit atrium.


Located in a former Long Island City school building, MoMA PS1 displays some of the world’s best contemporary art while it hosts emerging artists and genres, presenting more than 50 exhibitions a year.

From June to September, MoMA PS1 presents Warm Up, a Saturday music series introduces audiences to the best in experimental live music at 22-25 Jackson Ave.

Noguchi Museum

Travel up Vernon Boulevard and you will find the Noguchi Museum which was designed by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1985 at 9-01 33rd Road in Long Island City.

Just across the street is the Socrates Sculpture Park, New York City’s only public area dedicated to giving artists the chance to exhibit large-scale creations. The center was once an abandoned landfill along the East River which became an illegal dumping site.

Kaufman Astoria Arts District

Back at the Kaufman Astoria Arts District you will find the Museum of the Moving Image which offers multimedia exhibits on just about every aspect of film, television, internet, cartoons and even
video games.

MOMI is located at 36-01 35th Ave. and it is home to the permanent Jim Henson Exhibition which features more than 300 objects on display including puppets of famous Sesame Street characters Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Elmo.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

In Corona, where Louis Armstrong lived from 1943 until his death, you will find his home at 34-56 107th Street transformed into a museum.

The inside is just as it was when Satchmo and his wife Lucille lived there and guided yours are enhanced by audio clips of him making music, socializing, and even eating.

Flushing Quaker Meeting House

If historic homes are of interest, you will find plenty in Queens such as the Flushing Quaker Meeting House built in 1694, New York City’s oldest structure in continuous use for religious purposes located at 137-16 Northern Blvd.

Bowne House Historical Society

Nearby you will find the Bowne House Historical Society at 37-01 Bowne St. In 1661, immigrant John Bowne opened his home as a meeting spot for Quakers.

Though he didn’t sign it, Bowne was a leading force behind the Flushing Remonstrance, a 1657 petition requesting freedom to practice religion that is considered the precursor of the freedom of religion provision in the Bill of Rights.

King Manor

And then there is King Manor in the vicinity of Jamaica and 89th Avenue which was home to the youngest signer of the U.S. Constitution. Rufus King was a senator, an ambassador to Great Britain, and a candidate for president.

King was also an early voice in the anti-slavery movement who employed and paid workers rather than practice slavery on his farm in Jamaica.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, King Manor hosts numerous seasonal festivals, classical music concerts, and even swearing-in ceremonies for new citizens.

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