South Jamaica Queens housing projects

Southside isn't the wrong side of the tracks anymore.

The Jamaica nabe that spawned 50 Cent and Nicky Minaj (who played a sold-out Paradise Theater Saturday) is evolving from a district plagued with drugs and violence to a stable, vibrant community — from the JFK AirTrain that opened in 2003 on Sutphin Boulevard to the city's latest plan to rezone 530 blocks. No wonder the Real Estate Board of New York reports Jamaica (along with Sunnyside) saw Queens' highest spike in home sales this year.

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*South Jamaica sprawls below the LIRR tracks south to Baisley Blvd., between the Van Wyck Expy. and Merrick Blvd. accessible by the E/J/Z train or Q6/Q7/Q40 bus. The nabe has seen an influx of African, West Indian and Dominican settlers. Harold John (shown) dishes authentic Liberian fare at Maima's (106-47 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.) such as fried okra, fu-fu soup, palm butter and ginger beer.

*Southside boasts one of the largest African American communities in Queens, with blocks of suburban houses and strips of mom-and-pop shops running along the main commercial hubs of Guy R. Brewer and Sutphin Blvds., such as the Supergrow Beauty Supply (107-02 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.).

*The area also houses higher learning. CUNY's York College (94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.) was founded in 1966 and eventually set up shop on a 50-acre site south of the LIRR tracks.Lovely little suburban homes grace many of the streets of South Jamaica Queens. Known for its health and liberal arts programs ) and the site of CUNY's Aviation Institute — the small college of the City University enrolls more than 7, 000 students speaking more than 37 languages, and is home to the Queens High School for the Sciences.

*"Ten years ago, it was rough around here, " admits Gary Mohamed, 43, who's worked at one of the area's many auto repair shops for 13 years. "Mayor Giuliani did a great job cleaning up. You don't have to be scared to walk around here anymore." The nabe retains its gritty and colorful charm, however, from hubcaps decorating chainlink fences, to statement-making hood ornaments and sneakers dangling from telephone wires.

*Mayor Bloomberg has picked up where Giuliani left off. His administration proposed a rezoning plan last month that protects South Jamaica's signature blocks of one- and two-story houses, like 160th Street (shown above top) from overdevelopment. This follows a 2007 rezoning plan that introduced hi-rise buildings like hotels, office buidlings and apartment towers around the the AirTrain and LIRR station commuter/commercial hub.


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Why is it called south side Jamaica Queens?

Jamaica, Queens is what the entire area of southeastern Queens is called by non-residents. It's southside and mainly Jamaican.