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Location within New York City
|City||New York City|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Queensbridge Houses, also known as Queensbridge, is a public housing development in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York City. Owned by the New York City Housing Authority, the development contains 96 buildings and 3,142 units accommodating approximately 7,000 people in two separate complexes (North and South).The complex opened in 1939 and is the largest housing project in North America.
Queensbridge is located in Queens Community District 1, and its ZIP Code is 11101.
Queensbridge, the largest of 26 public housing developments in Queens, is located between Vernon Boulevard, which runs along the East River, and 21st Street. It is immediately south of the Ravenswood power plant and just north of the Queensboro Bridge, after which the complex is named. The complex is the largest housing project in North America. The development is separated into two complexes, the North Houses on 40th Avenue and the South Houses on 41st Avenue. The namesake station of the New York City Subway's IND 63rd Street Line ( F and <F> trains) is on the eastern side of the complex on 21st Street.
The 96-unit, six-story buildings are distinctive due to their shape of two Y's connecting at the base. This shape was used as the architects hoped it would give residents more access to privacy and sunlight than the traditional cross-shape.The design was said to be cost-efficient, and they reduced the cost even further by using elevators that only stopped at the 1st, 3rd, and 5th floors. Political pressure to keep costs down was a key reason for the use of cheap designs. W.F.R. Ballard, Henry S. Churchill, Frederick G. Frost, and Burnett Turner designed Queensbridge.
In many aspects, the buildings of Queensbridge are very similar to most government-built housing projects of the era. They are a worn grayish brown which now suffers noticeable deterioration and weathering. Each building is painted red to about four feet up from the ground, giving a united feel to the entire complex as a uniform red "layer" is always close, throughout the complex. On each of the corners in Queensbridge, the New York City Housing Authority has posted signs indicating the project's name and management: "Queensbridge North (or South) NYCHA." These signs come in several varieties depending on their age. The oldest signs, erected in the early nineties, are simply orange and blue, with the newer signs featuring graphics, like those of many other projects.
Access to buildings in the complex is by key or via an intercom system. The halls of Queensbridge's buildings are comparable to most municipal buildings, and are dilapidated and lined with worn light blue tiles. Apartments are painted white and are fairly small, even by New York City standards. Elevators have been rebuilt and now stop at floors 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and kitchens have been completely renovated and now have frost-free refrigerators. Three thousand bathrooms were renovated with new tubs, toilets, vanities, floor tile and lighting in 2000. This followed a renovation in 1986 when 1000 of the bathrooms were renovated by Arc Plumbing.
As a result of the 1937 Wagner Housing Act, Congress would only approve funds for public housing if the housing was unattractive to middle-class families who would otherwise buy or rent homes in the private housing market. The original plans nonetheless included some basic amenities, like a central shopping center, a nursery and six inner courtyards for play. In the 1950s, there were also three playschool rooms, a library, a community center with an auditorium where shows were put on, a gymnasium with a wooden floor that doubled as a wooden-wheels roller skating rink, activity rooms downstairs, and a cafeteria upstairs where the playschool children ate their lunches. Some of the downstairs activities included tap dancing, ballet, art, playing the recorder and singing, pool, knock hockey and table tennis, as well as Girl Scout and Boy Scout meetings. Residents enjoyed concerts during the hot summer months in the square central shopping area, and the Fresh Air Fund sent children on trips out to the Peekskill mountains.
The buildings in the complex are divided by a series of paths and small lawns. Also in the complex are several basketball courts and play areas lined with benches. Across Vernon Boulevard lies Queensbridge Park, the primary place of recreation for tenants of the project. There was also a smaller park placed conveniently right under the Queensboro Bridge called "Baby Park". Baby Park was closed due to debris falling from the bridge during maintenance work in the late 2000s. Baby Park was replaced by a new playground for the same age range, between 40th-41st Avenues, within Queensbridge Park itself.
Queensbridge opened in 1939. During the 1950s, the management changed the racial balance of Queensbridge by transferring all families whose income was more than $3,000/year, a majority of whom were White, to middle-income housing projects, and replacing most of these tenants with African-American and Latino families. In addition to providing safe and sanitary housing to many low-income African-American and Latino families, this policy also promulgated racial segregation in public housing.
Queensbridge is well known for its contributions to hip hop and rap music, and has been home to some of the most influential musicians in the genre. Marley Marl Williams was the first in a long succession of acclaimed artists from “The Bridge”, which came to be one of the most famous hip hop neighborhoods in the country. Its rappers and producers helped to put it on the map. The Juice Crew collective, hugely influential in the 1980s, featured among its members Queensbridge rappers MC Shan, Roxanne Shanté, and Craig G.
While the Boogie Down Productions-MC Shan dispute had already put "The Bridge" on the rap map in the 1980s, the new crop of Queensbridge rappers like Nas and Mobb Deep made frequent references to the Queensbridge Houses that cemented its reputation as a dystopian vision of poverty, drugs, and violence just as New York City's problems with crack cocaine and the unprecedented carnage it had brought to places like Queensbridge reached a peak. Other notable artists associated with the Queensbridge hip hop scene include Blaq Poet, Cormega, Tragedy Khadafi, Nature, Screwball, Capone, and Big Noyd. "QBC" (Queensbridge Crew) as a song shout-out was [is] common slang for most rappers who were from Queensbridge.
Regarding the Queensbridge music scene, XXL columnist Brendan Frederick wrote:
At a time when you can buy screwed & chopped albums at Circuit City in Brooklyn, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that hip-hop was once a local phenomenon. More than just a voice of the ghetto, hip-hop at its best is the voice of specific blocks, capturing the distinct tone and timbre of an artist’s environment. Since the 1980s, New York City’s Queensbridge Housing Project has been documented perhaps better than any other geographic location. Starting with super producer Marley Marl’s dominant Juice Crew in the ’80s all the way through ’90s mainstays like Nas, Cormega and Capone, the Bridge has produced the highest per-capita talent of any ’hood.
By the 1970s, Queensbridge experienced a rise in crime with the rest of the city. During the height of the crack epidemic in 1986 Queensbridge experienced more murders than any NYCHA complex in New York City. However, in the 2000s, crime went down.
For many years Queensbridge has had a problem with drug dealers and drug users. An 11-month police investigation led to the arrest of 37 people during a drug bust in February 2005. Another raid in February 2009, following a seven-month investigation, resulted in 59 arrests.
As of 2013, Queensbridge had a total population of 6,105. The racial breakdown was 61.4% black, 2.3% white, 1.9% Asian, 1.0% American Indian and 2.4% multiracial. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 30.1%.
Marlon Williams, better known by his stage name Marley Marl, is an American DJ, record producer, rapper and record label founder, primarily operating in hip hop music. Marlon grew up in Queensbridge housing projects located in Queens, New York] He became interested in music, by performing in local talent shows, during the early days of rap music.
Lolita Shanté Gooden, better known by her stage name Roxanne Shante, is an American hip hop musician and rapper. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City, Shante first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and was part of the Juice Crew. The 2018 film Roxanne Roxanne is a dramatization of Shante's life.
Shawn Moltke better known by his stage name MC Shan, is an American hip hop and R&B recording artist.
Cory McKay, better known by his stage name Cormega, is an American rapper and songwriter. His first musical debut was sparked by a shout-out from Nas on his song "One Love", from the critically acclaimed Illmatic album during Cormega's time in prison.
Nas & Ill Will Records Presents QB's Finest, commonly known as simply QB's Finest, is a compilation album released on November 21, 2000 and the second release from rapper Nas' new Ill Will Records imprint, distributed by Columbia Records. It featured Nas and a number of other rappers from the Queensbridge housing projects, including Mobb Deep, Nature, Nashawn, Littles, Bravehearts and Cormega, who had briefly reconciled a longtime feud with Nas.
The Bridge Wars was a hip hop music rivalry during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s, that arose from a dispute over the true birthplace of hip hop music and retaliation over the rejecting of a record for airplay. The Bridge Wars originally involved The South Bronx's Boogie Down Productions, led by KRS-One, and Marley Marl's Juice Crew, hailing from Queensbridge. KRS-One and Marley Marl have since officially retired the feud, with the release of their collaborative 2007 album Hip-Hop Lives.
The Juice Crew was an American Hip Hop collective made up largely of Queensbridge –based artists in the mid–to–late 1980s. Founded by radio DJ Mr. Magic, and housed by Tyrone Williams' record label Cold Chillin' Records, the Juice Crew helped introduce New School artists Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante and Kool G Rap. The crew produced many answer records and engaged with numerous "beefs" – primarily with rival radio jock Kool DJ Red Alert and the South Bronx's Boogie Down Productions, as well as the "posse cut", "The Symphony".
Percy Lee Chapman, known by his stage name Tragedy Khadafi, is an American rapper and record producer. Chapman hails from the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York City, who helped spawn other hip hop artists such as Mobb Deep, Capone-N-Noreaga, Nas and many others both through production and influence. His name is a reference to the former leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi. He was the first in the Queensbridge projects to create intelligent street music and is documented to be the first to use the phrase "Illmatic" in 1988 on a record called "The Rebel" from the Marley Marl album "In Control Volume 1" which was a huge inspiration and influence on fellow New York rapper Nas.
Mobb Deep was an American hip hop duo from Queensbridge, Queens, New York. The duo consisted of rappers Havoc and Prodigy. They are considered to be among the main progenitors of hardcore East Coast hip hop and hip hop in the mid 1990s. Mobb Deep became one of the most successful rap duos in history, having sold over three million records. Three of their most notable albums were The Infamous (1995), Hell on Earth (1996) and Murda Muzik (1999), and their top hits include "Shook Ones ", "Survival of the Fittest" and "Hell On Earth ". They were known for their dark and hardcore delivery.
Craig Curry, better known by his stage name Craig G, is an American rapper from Queensbridge, Queens, New York. He is perhaps best known as one of the members of hip hop producer Marley Marl's Cold Chillin' Records group the Juice Crew.
Infamous Mobb, also known as IM3, is a hip hop group from Queensbridge, Long Island City, Queens, New York, United States, composed of members Ty Nitty, Twin Gambino aka Big Twin and G.O.D. Part III aka Godfather Part III. They are an integral part of the Queensbridge Hip Hop scene, which includes rappers like Nas, Mobb Deep, Cormega, Capone-N-Noreaga and began with the Juice Crew.
Screwball is an American hip hop quartet from New York City, composed of rappers Hostyle, KL, Blaq Poet and Solo. The group has released two studio albums, Y2K: The Album in 1999 and Loyalty in 2001, and a compilation album Screwed Up in 2004.
Wilbur Bass, better known as Blaq Poet is an American rapper from Queensbridge, New York, United States.
Born to Be Wild is the second album released by Juice Crew member and East Coast rapper MC Shan. With the production work of Marley Marl, MC Shan directly attacked Boogie Down Productions with "Juice Crew Law" and ended the silence around their feud.
Screwed Up is a compilation album by American hip hop quartet Screwball. The double disc project was released on July 19, 2004 via Hydra Entertainment. It is primarily composed of songs from the group's two previous albums Y2K: The Album and Loyalty, as well as new tracks, remixes, and songs from member Hostyle's One Eyed Maniac album. The album's title came from the group's 1996 single "Screwed Up" b/w "They Wanna Know Why". After the release of Screwed Up, member Blaq Poet pursued a solo career. Member Kenneth "KL" Lewis passed away on March 28, 2008 of an asthma attack, and member Fredrick "Hostyle" Ivey died in January 2020. The compilation was re-issued for digital download shortened to fifteen tracks.
"The Bridge Is Over" is a 1987 song by Boogie Down Productions from their debut album Criminal Minded, performed by rapper KRS-One and produced by DJ Scott LaRock and KRS-One. The song's intro samples "The Bridge" by MC Shan.
The following is a discography of production credited to Marley Marl.
Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge is a 2005 documentary film directed by Booker Sim for Juju Films. The film documents the streets of the Queensbridge Housing Projects of New York City, following the issues and struggles of Tragedy Khadafi aka Intelligent Hoodlum. Queens rappers Havoc, Prodigy, Capone and N.O.R.E., as well as producer Marley Marl among others appeared in the film.
"The Symphony" is a rap song produced by Marley Marl featuring Juice Crew members Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, Craig G and Big Daddy Kane. The track appears on Marley Marl's 1988 Cold Chillin' Records release In Control, Volume 1. Rolling Stone ranked “The Symphony” the 48th greatest hip-hop song of all time, calling it “the first truly great posse cut.”
"It's a Demo" is the 1986 debut single by American hip hop duo Kool G Rap & DJ Polo. Originally a non-album single with "I'm Fly" as a B-side, a remix of the track was featured on the duo's 1989 album Road to the Riches and later on the compilation albums Killer Kuts (1994), The Best of Cold Chillin' (2000), Greatest Hits (2002) and Street Stories: The Best of Kool G Rap & DJ Polo (2013).