My response: "YOU ARE COMING HERE?!?!"
My wonderful friend Raye is from Taiwan and now lives in South Carolina. We attended the same college in Minnesota, St. Cloud State. I don't get to see her often, so anytime she might be around I try and see her!
Turns out she took that 12 hour bus ride (which was an adventure in and of itself!) and I picked her up in Manhattan's Chinatown.
One of the little adventures we went on was a day trip to Flushing, Queens where we both knew was another Chinatown. I haven't been to Flushing in years, and had never really explored the area - even though it's just down the road from me. So it was time!
We boarded the Q19 bus that stops just a few blocks from my home and were whisked away. Within 20 minutes we stepped into what we found to be a cultural and historical neighborhood
We had no agenda, but quickly ran into what is called the Flushing Freedom Mile. Various signs at historical landmarks around Flushing that you can easily walk to and learn tidbits from.
One of the first signs and landmarks we ran into was
The Quaker Meeting House, originally built in 1694, but the building seen here was built in 1717. This was the first church (outside a home) where organized religious meetings were held. It is still used today!
Across the street from this was
The Flushing Town Hall (now an arts center). Built in 1862 it was used for social, cultural, and political life in Flushing. Many famous people spoke here including
Next we found
The Lewis Latimer House Museum. Mr. Latimer was an African-American inventor, and electricity pioneer - he invented the filament for the light bulb! His home is now a proud NYC landmark.
Very soon we found ourselves in the beautiful courtyard of
Flushing High School. This was the first public secondary school in New York City, built in 1875. The first graduating class of 1878 had only 6 students.
A few fun pictures from the Flushing High School...
Henry gave both Raye and I "flowers"
Moving on we saw the oldest surviving NYC landmark and the oldest structure in Queens,
The Bowne House. This home was built in 1661 and was the location of the very first organized religious meetings in Flushing. This is now a national shrine to religious freedom.
As we were walking along to these various historical sites all around us were signs of the Chinese and Korean cultures.
This is a new condo development with a market in the basement. The Flushing Chinatown is larger and more populated than the one on Manhattan. And I gotta say...I enjoyed it much more! Manhattan's is a tourist trap with locals trying to sell you everything from fish heads to knock off purses. In Flushing it was a neighborhood. Families shopping for real life. It truly was like we were in a different country and it very much reminded Raye of Tai Pae City.
Our stomachs were growling so we walked a bit until we came to a Korean restaurant that looked tasty. Using the ever-handy Urbanspoon iPhone app, it confirmed that yes, this was a good choice-so in we went!
Spicy Squid or Ocotpus?
Kimchi radish & soup
Pineapple Bubble Smoothie. Henry loved the tapioca beads!
Spicy Beef over rice. You didn't really think I'd order the squid or octopus, did you?!?!
Kimchi Dumpling Soup
Spicy Chicken over rice
Raye enjoying the delicious food!
Kimganae. The name of the restaurant. Good stuff!
After we rolled ourselves out of Kimganae we had a bit more exploring to do! As we walked down the busy shopping street I noticed these in one of the windows
CraZy flip flops! (I kinda want a pair!)
A typical Flushing street
Darian fruit. Raye said these smell awful when you cut into them, but they taste very good. I actually had a chance to smell it yesterday while we were in Manhattan's Chinatown and yes-they don't smell appealing! But they were very popular with a vendor selling them cut up right off a table. I might have to try it sometime...
Back to the history of Flushing, we came across this church
Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is the 3rd place in Flushing that had organized religious services. It was also a place, where in 1787, African Americans were free to worship without being persecuted by whites. This also may have been a station on the Underground Railroad. So stinkin' cool!
Just down the street was a big rock
This rock is called the Fox Stone. In 1672 George Fox spoke a message here about freedom of religion. It was supposed to be held in the Bowne home across the street, but so many people showed up in support that they had to move it out to Bowne's gardens. Fox stood between two giant trees - this rock marks the spot of one of the trees. The stone was placed in 1907 in commemoration of one of the most important events in the history of the Quaker community in Flushing.
We continued on looking for a certain building, but only found a sign
The Aspinwall House no longer exists, unfortunately. This home was built in 1762 and during the American Revolution was a headquarters for British officers. Before the Civil War (1861-1865) it was a station on the Underground Railroad! The home was demolished in the 1950s to make room for new buildings. Such a shame!
Very close by we discovered
The Flushing State Armory. (Now NYPD) This could be the birthplace of religious freedom in America. The Quakers in the area were being oppressed by the Dutch governor, Peter Styuveseant, so in response they wrote a letter to him. This letter served as the inspiration for the Constitution's First Amendment! Amazing!
That about wrapped up the Freedom Mile, so we just wandered around a bit to take in the sights.
We came upon a candy store and had to go in!
Honey Roasted Dried Squid. Uh...no thanks! I did; however, try a few other similar things. I cannot say I enjoyed them!
Raye said these are her favorite!
Salmon Sushi flavored chips...Raye confirmed-these are nasty!
Henry got a sucker-he was thrilled!
Some of our candy - Raye did most of the picking and it's all delicious!
Kind of a gummy thing-sorta chocolaty, but not really...it's good!
We stopped in a grocery store to purchase a couple beverages
I didn't have any this day, but these are very good!
NOT Tasty. Tasted like sweetened condensed milk!
Fish balls and Lunchables. This made me laugh.
Lots of fresh fish! It smelled GREAT! ;-)
Popsicles. Raye said the top shelf ones, Red Bean & Jelly, were delicious.
It was a fantastic day. We were exhausted, but happy. I had no idea what a cultural oasis awaited me when we boarded the Q19 bus!! When Henry is learning about the Underground Railroad or the 1st Amendment in school I look forward to taking him here to see some of the sites first-hand. I feel blessed to live in this amazing historical City!