Queens Center is a large suburban-style mall anchored by Macys and JCPenney in a very urban location, New York City. Located in the Elmhurst section of the borough of Queens, Queens Center is accessible by multi-modal forms of transportation: Subway, Bus, Car, foot, horse, turtle, whatever; it all converges at this mall. Despite its name, the mall is not located in the geographic center of the Borough of Queens and actually about 4 miles to the northwest. Queens Center is, however, located at one of the busiest intersections in the borough, Queens Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard, adjacent to the LIE (I-495) which is one of the main arteries carrying traffic from Midtown Manhattan out onto the vast expanse of suburban Long Island.
Queens Center is unique in that it is only one of a handful of large shopping malls within New York City, which has a population of 8 million. And in fact, it is the only large enclosed mall within the borough of Queens, with a population of 2.2 million. As such, the mall is often crowded and numerous sources cite Queens Center as having the highest profit per square foot in the United States for an enclosed mall. This is largely due to the fact that the millions of residents surrounding the mall would rather shop locally than either make the tedious journey into Manhattan or drive to the large suburban malls farther out on Long Island in the suburbs.
In 2002, Queens Center was about 25 years old. Not only did Queens Center look a bit worse for wear, it was definitely in need of expansion. So Macerich, the owner, embarked on a $275 expansion and renovation project which lasted over two years, changing the mall dramatically. The old small, dirty food court was removed from its circular area upstairs to new basement digs. A skybridge over 92nd Street connects the new part of the mall with the older, and glass atriums throughout provide ample light, a stark contrast to the dimly lit space of before. Also, the mall was repainted with brighter colors, light beiges and pastels, to further modernize and brighten the place up a bit. Gone too are interesting escalators which went down from the mall and literally into the middle of JCPenney a floor below, and all of the courts which were circular were squared off. But, with the expanded space and brighter look, I think Queens Center is wholly better. The mix of stores and restaurants has also been upscaled, with trendy features like California Pizza Kitchen and others. I think flashing girl from Flushing, the Nanny named Fran, would definitely shop here post-renovation. If only she hadn’t moved into the city…
We visited Queens Center twice, once in 2001 before renovation and once in 2007. Feel free to leave comments and enjoy the photo sets.