Hollis’ Harsh Reality

Hollis, New York, is a town located in Queens.  The section of Hollis that I explored was near Jamaica Avenue; specifically, C-Town grocery store and Clean Rite Laundromat.  This part of the town is lower-middle class.  Poverty is evident throughout Hollis; there were bars on store windows, and there was even an attempted bank robbery nearby.  The streets are also noisy, as people are screaming back-and-forth at one another.  There is a potent smell of marijuana emanating from the apartment buildings, and there is a women’s shelter right off of Jamaica Avenue on 191st Street, and passersby can often hear people shouting inside the building.  The sidewalks are littered with garbage, and have more than the assortment of cigarette butts that are on nearly any city street.

I visited this neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon, and the first stop for the day was C-Town supermarket.  It was similar to most New York City grocery store in the sense that it was cramped and crowded, but there were some prominent differences.  Employees stared at any customer who is shopping, as though they were expecting someone to try and shoplift.  There is a very small produce section, and the food did not look fresh.  Even the frozen foods section had a limited amount of fruits and vegetables; the majority of the items were ice cream, breakfast foods (French toast, pancakes, and sausage patties), TV dinners, hot dogs, and burgers.  Healthy food was either not displayed, or not available.

The final stop for the day was the Laundromat.  It was within a five-block radius of the grocery store, so it was relatively accessible without using public transportation.  I noticed that both C-Town and Clean Rite were filled with both men and women.  There was not a specific sex that was more prominent; however, there were definite racial differences.  On a busy Saturday afternoon, I was the only white person.  The majority of people were Black or Hispanic.  The Laundromat was crowded, and people were dashing to score an open dryer.  Some people had their children climbing on the folding tables, and there was a plethora of chaos.  People were protective of the dryers that they were using and watched them diligently.  It was obvious that people were concerned about their clothes being stolen.  I was at the Laundromat for almost three hours because it was so crowded.  This made me wonder if there were few Laundromats in that vicinity, or if Clean Rite was just the one that had the fewest thefts.

Hollis is an interesting town because it is less than a mile from Jamaica Estates, an affluent neighborhood with multimillion-dollar houses.  The discrepancies between the two sections are startling, as Hollis is riddled with poverty, but Jamaica Estates is a gated community.  It is just another example of the economy gap in New York City.

Assignment 1 - Urban at 1st Glance, ,

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