A famous rap group put Hollis, Queens, on the map. Hollis is a safe working-class town with touches of suburbia throughout though it has undergone some changes. Primarily African-Americans and West Indians have made it their home and more recently Haitians have moved into the area en masse.
This neighborhood looks much like suburbia, with neat houses and mowed lawns. Single-family homes dominate the landscape with some multifamily apartments in the area. This solidly middle-class works steadily, with federal and state jobs being the #1 employers. The people here take pride in their neighborhood and there is a strong neighborhood association to prove it.
Hollis is located off the Van Wyck and Long Island Expressway. These highways run directly into New York City, but the glut of heavy traffic causes commuters to opt for mass transit. Both major thorough ways lead further up into the Bronx from one direction and into Long Island from the other.
Restaurants & Nightlife
For an authentic taste of Caribbean fare, try Tastee Jerk on Hollis Avenue. This restaurant has a variety of different tropical foods that you don't find in other restaurants. The timid try peanut porridge and curry chicken, but the brave opt for either goat head or cowfoot soup. Pop open a nice bottle of traditional Jamaican sorrel drink to wash all these dishes down.
For traditional Asian food, head over to Cheung Hing Kitchen on Hollis Ave. This family-owned carry-out restaurant serves up classic Chinese dishes for diners on the go. Try one of the great lo mein dishes or combination plates served with pork fried rice and an egg roll. Cheung Hing Kitchen also serves up hearty lunch specials that fill you up without draining your wallet.
Head to Sky Lounge to enjoy a cold beer while watching the big game. The friendly staff serves up daily drink specials to help you unwind after a long day of work. Sky Lounge hosts pool tournaments and regularly features live musical performances from up-and-coming reggae and hip-hop artists. The Door in nearby Rochdale serves up intoxicating cocktails, including ethnic favorite puncha-cream and ginger beer. For great buffet items, be sure to visit on Sunday.
History & Culture
When the original Hollis residents began to migrate to Long Island, they left beautiful, detached houses in this south eastern section of Queens. African-Americans, tired of apartment-style living, rushed headlong into this modern suburbia.
Burger joint Hollis Famous Burgers closed recently, but it held memorabilia from Hollis' most famous residents.The Hollis Hip Hop Shrine displayed Rapper Darryl McDaniel's gold and platinum albums from his time in rap group RUN-DMC.
The Queens Library at Hollis holds other histories but not just of rappers. The Hollis branch closes on the weekend, but area library branches hold fun movie marathons and Sunday concerts. A book club meets once per month, and a coding class teaches people who want to learn how to build websites.
Responding to requests from residents, some branches offer early morning and late evening hours so that working folks can take advantage of the amenities the library provides.
Most Hollis residents do not own cars, and traffic crawls on the expressway in the mornings, making mass transit the best way to get to work. New York is only a short 30-minute ride via the Long Island Railroad. The F train runs in the area, but is a bit of a walk from the Hollis area. The X68 bus takes residents into the city for $6 and the E, J, and Z trains run in and around Queens
New Yorkers like to walk; it is a popular way to get around. You won't find much bicycling outside of the parks in the area. Both are safe to do but are best left during daylight hours. Although streetlights dot most of the sidewalks in Hollis, to be safe, residents wear reflective gear when biking and walking. A taxi or Uber will pick you up and take you places, but travel in groups, especially at night.
Public parking can be problematic at times. Jamaica Avenue and the LIRR have limited parking space. There are large parking garages in Jamaica but none in Hollis, no longer a busy commercial area. Parking is free in residential area, but residents must be aware of street cleaning days, when they will have to move their cars.
The cost to live in Hollis is low, relative to New York City. A one-bedroom apartment in the area averages around $1,200 per month. For $2.50 or the swipe of a MetroCard you can get into the city on the Subway. Riders save more by purchasing tickets in bulk and in advance. A mixed drink at the Door costs $10, and gas prices run 20 percent higher than the national average.
Bakeries and corner shops have been replaced by storefront churches in Hollis. With no real local stores, the center of commerce is on nearby Jamaica Avenue. The shopping experience there rivals that of New York City in some aspects. High-end retailers like Zales compete with bargain jeweler Zan Jewelry. Further up on Jamaica Avenue, speciality stores like Xios caters to ladies while Smart Menswear caters to the men. Department stores V.I.M. and Conway sell clothing for the entire family. There are even hot dog vendors on the street, selling Nathan's hot dog, of course.
After a long day at work, some Hollis residents may not feel like stopping off for groceries. Peapod lets customers shop from home and deliver groceries to their door. This service delivers to most Queens neighborhoods for a premium.
Customers who do not mind stopping off at the grocery store on the way from work opt for local stores like Karina Grocery on Jamaica Avenue or Hollis Deli on Hollis Avenue. They have many international grocery items for the established immigrant clientele. The Superette on 205th street is a sentimental favorite. It displays a memorial to Jam Master Jay of RUN-DMC.
Busy workers appreciate the Sunnyside Farmers Market. After rallying to have it open year-round, they support the open-air concept wholeheartedly. This market provides fresh produce from farms in the Tri-State area. They also offer such niceties like Haitian produce and grass-fed beef.
There are a few parks within walking distance, and nearby Cunningham Park has a sports field and a bike path. Dogs are prohibited from the tennis courts and picnic area at Cunningham, but they can run around if leashed and if the owners clean up after them. The Hollis Playground at Intermediate School 192 fills in for swings and slides when kids can't get to a big playground.
The exercise-minded participate in New York City's Shape UP NYC and WALK NYC. This program has organized workout plans, but New Yorkers can do their own thing in the big field at Cunningham.
The annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival takes place each year at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens. Previous festivals pulled 16,000 participants, all there to taste the best jerk chicken in Hollis.