Queens is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County in southeastern New York, on western Long Island. The largest borough in New York City, with a land area of about 282 sq km (about 109 sq mi), Queens is bounded on the north by the East River and Long Island Sound, on the east by Nassau County, on the south by Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Brooklyn, and on the northwest by the East River. The terrain of Queens, like that of Long Island generally, consists of a level plain traversed by an eastern and western chain of hills. Jamaica Bay has numerous islands, most marshy and uninhabited.
Transportation, distribution, and manufacturing are important industries in Queens. Many of the factories are in Long Island City and Maspeth. Among the leading manufactures of the borough are food products, electronic equipment, textiles, shoes, office supplies, metal products, paint, furniture, pianos, and cut stone and marble.
Predominantly a residential section, Queens has numerous well-defined neighborhoods or communities, including several that originated in colonial times. Jamaica, Long Island City, and Maspeth are business centers of the borough, and other communities include Astoria, College Point, Corona, Douglaston, Flushing, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, Saint Albans, and Sunnyside.
Queens is linked to extensive transportation facilities that include municipal subway and bus lines and the Long Island Rail Road, which provides service to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. The borough has an extensive network of limited-access highways and is linked to Manhattan by the Queensboro Bridge; the Queens-Midtown Tunnel; and the Triborough Bridge, which also links Queens with the Bronx. Further links with the Bronx are provided by the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Throgs Neck Bridge. Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge extends from Brooklyn across Rockaway Inlet to the Rockaway Peninsula, which borders the Atlantic Ocean. Two of the busiest airline terminals in the world are in Queens: La Guardia Airport, in the northern part of the borough, and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, in the south.
A number of historic landmarks are in Queens. The Bowne House, built in 1661, and the Society of Friends (Quakers) Meeting House, used almost continuously by the Friends since 1696, are in Flushing. The First Presbyterian Church, founded in 1662, is in Jamaica, and the Reformed Church of Newtown, established in 1731, is in Elmhurst. The Onderdonk Farmhouse (1731) in Maspeth is one of the best-preserved examples of colonial architecture in Queens.
The borough has extensive recreational facilities. Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area is located in Queens, and the Rockaway Peninsula, one of the principal resort sections of the New York metropolitan area, is the site of one of the recreation area's popular units, Jacob Riis Park. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to JFK Airport. Notable units of the municipal park system in Queens are Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, site of world's fairs in 1939 to 1940 and in 1964 to 1965, and Forest, Cunningham, Alley, Kissena, and Highland parks. Aqueduct Race Track, a major Thoroughbred-horse racing facility, is in Ozone Park, and the Stadium of the West Side Tennis Club is in Forest Hills. Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets major league baseball team; the National Tennis Center, site of the annual United States Open tennis tournament; and the Queens Botanical Gardens and Queens Wildlife Conservation Center are in Flushing.
Higher education facilities in Queens include Queens College (1937) and York College (1967), which are units of the City University of New York; St. John's University (1870); the Academy of Aeronautics (1932); a number of rabbinical colleges; and two large junior colleges. The Queens Museum, which contains a panoramic scale model of New York City, and the New York Hall of Science are in Flushing; the American Museum of the Moving Image is in Astoria; the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum is in Long Island City; the Queens County Farm Museum is in Floral Park; and the Jamaica Arts Center, a multicultural performance and visual arts space, is in Jamaica.
The region now comprising Queens was originally inhabited by Native Americans of the Rockaway tribe. Willem Kieft, governor of New Netherland, bought large sections of the region from the Rockaways in 1639. In 1642, Dutch colonists established Maspeth (Mespat), and English settlers founded Flushing. The English also helped to establish Jamaica in 1656. By 1664, when England seized control of New Netherland, English settlers were numerous in the territory.
Queens County was organized in 1683 as an administrative division of the English province of New York and was named for Catherine of Braganza, queen consort of Charles II of England. During the American Revolution (1775-1783), British troops occupied the area after the Battle of Long Island (1776) and held it until the end of the war. Largely an agrarian area, Queens grew very slowly until the late 19th century. The Rockaway Peninsula and the North Shore became popular resort areas in the 1890s, and the industrial development of the area around Newtown Creek began about the same time. When Queens County became a borough of New York City in 1898, the communities of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay seceded and were made part of newly organized Nassau County. For subsequent history, see New York City.