Long Island City:
Connecting the Arts

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Colin Cathcart, urban planner
Nina Rappaport, historian
David Reinfurt, graphic designer

Major Funder

New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency

Related Publication

Long Island City, New York City's most vibrant mixed-use community, is located in western Queens, across the East River from Midtown Manhattan. Nine world-class cultural institutions make their home in the area—Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, the Fisher Landau Center for Art, Museum for African Art, Museum of the Moving Image, the Noguchi Museum, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, SculptureCenter, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Thalia Spanish Theatre—as do artisans, small manufacturers, major corporations, and a diverse residential population.

Originally attracted by the proximity to Manhattan and availability of large spaces at relatively low cost, these cultural institutions later came to recognize that the neighborhood's industrial character discouraged some visitors.

The Design Trust, in partnership with the Long Island City Cultural Alliance, undertook a study that examined not just physical barriers to access — such as infrastructure, absence of transit links, etc. — but also the psychological barriers that came with misperceptions of the nature of Long Island City itself.

Three Design Trust fellows determined that the concept of a pedestrian arts district was not appropriate for Long Island City because of the distances between cultural institutions and the area's disorienting infrastructure.

Ultimately, they developed a strategy that uses Long Island City's industrial history as a cultural asset and outlines branding concepts to strengthen the area's identity as an arts destination. Specific recommendations employ unconventional urban planning tools, such as web- or telecom-based wayfinding, underused public transportation such as bicycle sharing, and identity strategies that exploit Long Island City's landscape of signage.

A resulting Design Trust publication, Long Island City: Connecting the Arts, serves as a blueprint for cultural development in the evolution of Long Island City.

© 2012 Design Trust for Public Space, 40 Worth Street, Suite 603, New York NY 10013  212.695.2432   info@designtrust.org