While in Jamaica

About Jamaica, Queens

"This town, from its [nearness] to New York, and from having long been a customary resort for the inhabitants of that city, has acquired a polish not visible in the towns further eastward."
- Timothy Dwight, Travels in New York and New England, 1810
Jamaica's location at the junction of the main east-west route across Long Island and the roads to Williamsburg, Rockaway, Flushing, Jericho and Hempstead insured its growth, prosperity and sophisticated air. Only ninety minutes by stagecoach to Brooklyn, which had a ferry across the East River, 19th century Jamaica residents were within easy reach of Manhattan.By 1830, village services included a post office, prison, police and fire departments, churches, private and public schools, a circulating library, stores and craftsmen, taverns and mills. It also served as the seat for the county clerk and surrogate's office.Today, Jamaica is a vibrant center for commerce and the arts, an important transportation hub, and one of the most ethnically diverse urban centers in the country. Explore the links to the left to learn more about our neighborhood or visit Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

Things to do While In Jamaica

Click to learn more.

Arts & Culture

Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) is a non-profit organization that offers visual, performing and literary arts, arts education and artist programs to encourage participation in the arts and to contribute to the cultural enrichment of Queens and the Greater Metropolitan area.

The Afrikan Poetry Theatre is a non-profit organization that provides a range of cultural, education, recreational, and social programs that celebrate African-based culture and heritage.

Black Spectrum Theater stimulates social and cultural consciousness through the production and presentation of message-oriented theatre and films, and to help children and youth develop into responsible citizens through affordable theatre arts.


Parks

King Park is the New York City Park surrounding King Manor Museum, and is one of New York City's few landmark parks. Park facilities today include an artificial grass recreational field, concert pad, playground, handball and basketball courts, and park bathrooms.

The 11.5 acres that today comprise King Park are one small portion of what was once Rufus King's 150 acre farm. By 1896 when his granddaughter Cornelia died, this land was all that remained of the former working farm and landscaped estate. In 1897, the King family sold the 11.5 acres and King Manor to the village of Jamaica. When Queens County became part of the newly consolidated New York City a year later, ownership of the land and
house were transferred to the City of New York.

To learn more about King Park's years as a working farm, click here.
To learn more about King Park's trees, click here.


Historic Churches & Cemeteries

Grace Episcopal Church and churchyard, 155-03 Jamaica Avenue, was founded in 1702 when a minister was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in response to a request from a group of Jamaica residents. The striking English Gothic Revival Church was erected in 1861-62 and is the third church building on this site. It stands in a charming landscaped country churchyard, dotted with gravestones dating from the early 1700s that bear the names of early Dutch and English settlers of Jamaica.

The church property once adjoined King Manor's land. Rufus King worshiped here, contributed generously to the church and became one of its wardens. Succeeding generations of the King family were also parishioners and active supporters of Grace Church; many are interred in the Churchyard.

First Presbyterian Church, 89-60 164th Street. Organized in 1662, the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica is said to be the oldest continuously serving Presbyterian congregation in the United States. Rufus King attended the opening ceremonies for the new Sanctuary, which was built in 1813, and was very impressed with the guest minister, Reverend Milledoler of New York. In 1920, this structure was moved by logs and a mule to its current location.

First Reformed Dutch Church. was established in 1702 for Dutch merchants who settled near Jamaica; an octagonal-shaped church was erected in 1716. The congregation relocated to Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street in 1833, where a second, Georgian-style church was built. After this structure burned in 1857, the third church was built in 1858-59 on the same site. This building was recently renovated and is now the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. In the mid-1980's, the First Reformed Church congregation settled into its present home at 159-29 90th Avenue.

Prospect Cemetery. Prospect Cemetery is one of the few remaining Colonial cemeteries in Queens. The earliest record of the cemetery dates from 1668. Its early Colonial period is marked by the picturesque tombstones of many members of the town’s prominent families, as well as several veterans of the Revolutionary War. Later additions to the cemetery are occupied by many 19th century obelisks.


Food

Jamaica Market, located two blocks east of King Manor Museum, offers an eclectic array of culinary choices from salads and sandwiches to juices and ethnic foods from Japan, China, and the Caribbean to the community at affordable prices and in a convenient location.

Jamaica Center has a wide variety of popular restaurants and food chains. For a current list, click here.