Howard Beach is a suburban neighborhood at the edge of Jamaica Bay in southern Queens. It's known for its AirTrain station that connects it to neighboring JFK Airport; notorious former resident John Gotti; and two widely publicized incidents of white-on-black violence (1986 and 2005).
However, it should be better known for its fascinating mix of geography -- Jamaica Bay, marshes, waterways, and canals -- and housing types -- from seaside cottages all the way up to high-rise buildings. It's a neighborhood full of families -- mainly Italian and Jewish -- who stay for years, even generations. The suburban yards, the seaside views, the AirTrain and subway, all while in New York City, add to the neighborhood's appeal.
Like most neighborhoods, there are distinct parts to Howard Beach:
- Old Howard Beach
- Cross Bay Boulevard - the commercial hub
- Hamilton Beach
- "New" Howard Beach
Cross Bay Blvd, Howard Beach
Cross Bay Boulevard is the neighborhood's commercial hub. Its six busy lanes of traffic separate the neighborhood in half. It's not a pretty strip, but it's bustling and lined with shops and restaurants.
There's a mix of local businesses and national chains. Vincent's Clam Bar and other restaurants are known for Italian cuisine. Russo's on the Bay has a reputation wider than the neighborhood for its catering hall.
Drive north on Cross Bay Boulevard to Ozone Park. Continue north and the road's name changes to Woodhaven Boulevard. Take it south over the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to Broad Channel.
Old Howard Beach
The section of Howard Beach that's to the east of Cross Bay Boulevard is sometimes known as Old Howard Beach. It was the area first developed in the early 20th century. There's a mix of single-family housing and some multi-family dwellings as well.
Subway Bridge to the Rockaways
Howard Beach . . . it's got beach in its name and it's on the water, but the beach is more for taking a walk than catching a wave. The beachfront on Jamaica Bay is accessible via Frank Charles Memorial Park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, east of Cross Bay Boulevard.
Hamilton Beach is unique. That description might be overused, but in the case of this tiny stretch of neighborhood, hard between the water, the swamp, and the airport, it's true.
Hamilton Beach is one of the oldest settled parts of Howard Beach. You'll still find shacks and run-down bungalows, along with new construction and well-appointed beach homes. The whole area is only 10 or so short blocks long.
JFK AirTrain station in Howard Beach
The Howard Beach station -- in Old Howard Beach -- connects the JFK AirTrain to the A subway line.
The modern, steel monstrosity is a big contrast with the surrounding streets full of humble Cape Cod-style houses.
Lindenwood is a neighborhood of Howard Beach with higher-density dwellings. There are high-rise apartment buildings and co-ops and blocks of multi-family houses from the 1950s and 1960s.