It’s the rare neighborhood where you can walk straight from an avant-garde art exhibit to a fishing pier. Long Island City, though, is indeed unique. Highlights include parks, art museums—and a park that’s also an art museum!
A gantry is a bridgelike structure used to help transfer cargo and service vehicles. This 12-acre park on the East River is named after the gantries that remain from when the southern portion of the park was a dock. The northern part of Gantry Plaza State Park has another remnant of its industrial history: the 60-foot-high neon Pepsi-Cola sign salvaged from a dismantled bottling plant. In addition to these monuments to the past, the park includes basketball and handball courts, a playground, a fishing pier complete with a cleaning table, picnic tables, and plenty of seating for admiring the view of Manhattan across the river.
Another one-time industrial site, this 11-acre park hugs the southernmost portion of Long Island City. In addition to offering stellar views of Manhattan from a 30-foot-high platform, it is a stop on the NYC Ferry’s East River Route, which can transport you to Midtown in less than 10 minutes. Once you’re here, though, you might not want to leave: There are volleyball and basketball courts, a dog run, a bike path, a playground, a spacious green, and the LIC Landing outdoor café.
At any given date, this sibling museum to Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art features numerous exhibitions and installations from forward-edge artists working in a gamut of media. Beyond visual arts, it offers live performances and other events as well. Its annual summertime Warm Up series, for instance, spotlights innovative musicians and DJs on select Friday nights. The museum also presents panel discussions and symposiums on wide-ranging cultural topics, dance performances, film screenings, and book launches, making it a valuable resource for anyone who wants to remain up-to-date on the forefront of the arts and creative thought.
Isamu Noguchi might best be remembered today for his innovative Mid-Century Modern furniture designs, but he was also a sculptor, landscape architect, and set designer. This museum, located across the street from one of his former studios, not only holds the world’s largest collection of Noguchi’s works, both indoors and in the museum’s gardens, but also hosts numerous musical performances, discussions, garden tours, and family-friendly workshops.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this park’s exhibitions are ever-changing: None of the sculptures and installations presented within the five-acre site on the East River are permanent, and because the park is open every day, visitors can watch the artworks being constructed. They can also join the free weekend yoga classes from May through October, shop the farmers’ market on Saturdays from June to November, go kayaking in the summer from Socrates’s Hallet’s Cove, and participate in hands-on events that make the most of the park’s flora and fauna.