o some New Yorkers, Queens is a cornucopia of prim middle class families mixed with festering staleness; more Courvoisier than Heineken; more suburban than urban. The borough doesn’t have the rugged, Chuck Norris-esqe reputation defining its southern and northern neighbors, or the glitz of the island to the west. But there’s much more to this underrated landmass than well-manicured single family homes and driveways.
6. The Afrikan Poetry Theatre: A true Afrocentric experience, this theatre is in Jamaica, Queens. Originally an ensemble of soul-conscious poets, singers and musicians, it has grown to include African history classes, jazz workshops and Zumba dance sessions. In 1987, the theatre began “Journey To The Motherland” educational tours, taking members to Africa every year.
5. Museum of The Moving Image: Nestled among Long Island City’s art outlets is the Museum of The Moving Image. The museum stores 130,000 artifacts pertaining to cinema’s art, history and technological advances. These include licensed merchandise, still photographs and set costumes. Come here for an up-close view of Eddie Murphy’s pants from Beverly Hills Cop and Queen Latifah’s dress from Chicago.
4. Louis Armstrong House Museum: Queens was a farm for developing jazz talent back in the 1940s. Swingin’ cats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker found racial acceptance in the borough, a far cry from the rampant discrimination then happening in Harlem. When Louis Armstrong died, the city transformed his Corona home into a museum celebrating his musical accomplishments. The Louis Armstrong House Museum features Satchmo’s 1,600 recordings, 86 scrapbooks, 5,000 photographs and more of his personal collections, all available to the public.
3. Black Spectrum Theatre: Housed in a 325-seat building serving more than 20,000 patrons annually, the Black Spectrum Theater regularly showcases movies and plays confronting issues in the black community. It provides Black filmmakers a distribution outlet for work rejected by mainstream theaters. BSPT has received acclaim from periodicals such as The New York Times and American Theater Magazine.
2. Hollis Famous Burgers: For $1, not only can you enjoy a mini-slider at Hollis Famous Burgers, but you get a glimpse of the Hollis Hip-Hop Museum. One half restaurant, another half-Hip-Hop gallery, the institution pays homage to the musical hotbed that is Hollis. Classic records from local rap legends such as Ja Rule and LL Cool J adorn the walls. Run-DMC, the most popular Hollis rap crew, features prominently in the museum, with a dedication to the group’s now-deceased founder Jam Master Jay.
1. Five Pointz: The days of graffiti-smeared subway cars passed in the ’80s. Part of the reason is Five Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’. As the first sight 7 train passengers see when they emerge at Court Square, Five Pointz is the city’s first and only outdoor graffiti exhibition. Thousands of taggers come from around the world to leave a mark on these legendary abandoned buildings. Curator Meres 1 only chooses those talented enough to design his space, paving the way for quality art. Best of all, it’s free!