Early English settlers dubbed this area of Queens "Jameco" after the local Jameco Native Americans. Now, this New York City neighborhood is home to a diverse population of roughly 90,000 residents.
The area encompasses 13 miles and features a newly commercialized downtown and newly revitalized multicultural community. Jamaica has long been home to a vibrant African-American community but has recently diversified with growing West Indian, Russian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican populations. The neighborhood has a substantial number of married couples with children.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Economic development of Jamaica was long neglected. Currently Jamaica has great potential to be a premier business center in New York City following the examples of major redevelopment occurring in Long Island City, Flushing, and Downtown Brooklyn.
The most prominent piece of development has been the Sutphin Boulevard transit hub. It includes the Sutphin Blvd. E, J, and Z subway stations, Long Island Rail Road and the AirTrain JFK, which provides a 5 to 7 minute direct ride from Jamaica to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The AirTrain station is central to Jamaica's ongoing economic progress. With the growing number of riders each day passing through this station, the city is planning some major changes to the surrounding blocks of this massive hub of transport.
Major banks, such as Bank of America, Sterling National Bank, Chase Bank and Carver Federal Savings Bank have at least one branch along various major streets in Jamaica. El Salvador based Airliner Grupo TACA operates a Jamaica-area TACA Satellite at 149-16 Jamaica Avenue.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The total population of Jamaica is roughly 90,000 with all neighborhoods taken into consideration. The population in the area is comprised of foreign-born individuals and higher-income urban families. The neighborhoods in Jamaica offer various kinds of housing including condos, single-family homes, and 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments.
As with the rest of New York City, the median condo value in Jamaica is significantly higher than the national median condo value.
Downtown Jamaica offers residents a mix of unique specialty stores, while the Jamaica Center section of the neighborhood offers more commercial shopping.
The area around Jamaica Avenue and 165th Street is a major commercial center comprised of stores catering to the South American, Caribbean, and East Indian communities. Two blocks north, 167th and 168th streets offer numerous stores, restaurants, and salons aimed toward the African-American and Bangladeshi communities.
Jamaica is anchored by Jamaica Center, a shopping complex equipped with a movie theater, numerous department stores, and several banks.
- The Jamaica Jazz Concert Series: The Jamaica Jazz Summer Concert Series offers free jazz concerts throughout July and August.
- The Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival: The Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival features concerts on two sound stages, ethnic food, merchandise vendors, movie screenings, arts exhibits, and children's activities.
- Arts in the Parks: Sponsored by collaborating community organizations, Arts in the Parks is a six-week children's program featuring free plays, concerts, puppet shows, and clown shows.
- Holidays on the Avenue: The Cultural Collaborative Jamaica hosts this annual event held in the winter. Established in 1996, it features an Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and a holiday music concert series.
- The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation: The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is a not-for-profit organization promoting the development of downtown Jamaica through the expansion of commercial enterprise.
- Cultural Collaborative Jamaica: The Cultural Collaborative Jamaica offers the community arts, cultural events, summer programs, and youth programs.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning: The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning is a 1,650-square-foot art gallery and theater. It also houses dance studios, a ceramics studio, a computer lab, and a music studio.
- York College's Performing Arts Center: York College's Performing Arts Center features two theaters where residents can enjoy plays and musicals throughout the year.
- Afrikan Poetry Theatre: Afrikan Poetry Theatre hosts and produces musical performances, film screenings, and original plays. The orgainzation also offers computer classes, a writing program, and dance and music workshops.
- Black Spectrum Theatre: The Black Spectrum Theatre Company is the only professional theater company that specifically serves the African-American community in Queens. It also provides a theater-training program and youth summer camp.
- Jamaica Performing Arts Center: The Jamaica Performing Arts Center is a newly opened state-of-the-art performance center located in the renovated Dutch Reformed Church in downtown Jamaica. It features theater, concerts, film festivals, dance performances, and arts education.
- King Manor Museum: Located on Jamaica Avenue, King Manor Museum is a 200-year-old building where founding father Rufus King once lived. The estate now offers educational programs and tours.
- Jamaica Center for the Performing & Visual Arts: Dedicated to providing residents of Jamaica with educational and cultural programs, the center offers exhibitions, performances, workshops and classes in performing and visual arts. Highlights include Saturday family workshops, a local artist co-op, and a children's theater series.
- Queens Library Gallery Jamaica, New York: Established in 1995, the Queens Library Gallery is connected to the Queens Borough Public Library. The gallery provides permanent exhibits, workshops, and educational programs.
- Jamaica Bay Park: Jamaica Bay Park is a wetland sanctuary that provides an environment for both wildlife and waterfowl. The bay contains numerous islands, waterways, meadowlands, and two freshwater ponds.
- Jamaica Playground Queens: This local facility is on the grounds of Public School 40 and provides residents with playgrounds and handball courts.
- Marconi Park: Located in South Jamaica, Marconi Park features handball courts, basketball courts, and a newly renovated playground.
- Detective Keith L. Williams Park (Liberty Park): This eight-acre park contains a variety of recreational facilities, among them Liberty Pool, handball, basketball, and tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a playground, and a recreation center.
- Major Mark Park: Major Mark Park features grass plots, sculptures, and monuments to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War.
- Walking Tours: Walking tours offer residents and visitors insight into the history of Jamaica.
- York College: A member of the City University of New York, York is a public college that offers baccalaureate degrees in the liberal arts and the sciences, as well as professional programs.
- St. John's University: This private Roman Catholic University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the liberal arts, business, and law.
- Jamaica Station offers the J and Z subway lines (Jamaica is also close to the E and F trains), the Long Island Rail Road, and the AirTrain that takes travelers to the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- The Q44 and Q56 buses run through Jamaica to the surrounding boroughs and Long Island. The privately run Jamaica Bus provides residents with local and express transportation.
- Jamaica is accessible by car along Interstate 678.