Jamaica Estates is an upscale upper-middle class neighborhood located in central Queens. Real estate mostly consists of single family Tudor styled homes. However, a minor amount apartments and multi-family homes are located in the southern portion along Hillside Avenue. The neighborhood is surrounded by the nearby towns of Jamaica Hills, Holliswood, and Briarwood. Jamaica Estates’ terrain is very hilly resulting in many tree-lined winding roads which makes the neighborhood esthetically beautiful. Some of the trees in Jamaica Estates are as old as 200 years old!
Formerly, Jamaica Estates was just a vast amount of unchartered forest owned by the city of New York. Jamaica was named after the first inhabitants of the area, the Native Americans of the Yemacah tribe. In 1910, three business partners: Timothy L. Woodruff, Edward Groat, and Michael Degnon, bought 503 acres of the forest and began developing a residential district. They named their community Jamaica Estates after their Manhattan based company, The Jamaica Estates Company. The boundaries set by these men are the same boundaries that Jamaica Estates are situated present-day. Unfortunately the developers went bankrupt in the 1920s, but the remaining 275 home owners still part of the community assembled together and formed the Jamaica Estates Association, Inc. The Jamaica Estates Association is still alive today and very active in preserving the neighborhood.
Jamaica Estates is close to Cunningham Park which is only six blocks east of the neighborhood. Cunningham Park is 358 acres of nature trails and sports fields. Cunningham Park boasts 20 tennis courts, 2 soccer fields, 27 ball fields, and 2 bocce courts. Many locals can be seen playing many different sports from baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football, bocce, cricket, and volleyball. During the colder months, a tennis bubble is erected on the tennis courts making it accessible even during the cold winter. The famed Big Apple Circus also makes a pit stop at Cunningham Park once a year in the spring as well as some artists such as The New York Philharmonic and The Metropolitan Opera. St. John’s University, a private co-ed university, is located nearby as well and serves as one of Jamaica Estates’ town boundaries.
The Grand Central Parkway and the Clearview Expressway are conveniently nearby. The F train and the buses QM6, QM7, and QM8 also run express along Union Turnpike making the commute to Manhattan roughly 30 minutes. Jamaica Estates is part of the NYC Geographic Districts of #26 and #29. Jamaica Estates was the hometown of Donald Trump, the famous real estate developer and entrepreneur. He mentioned that, “Jamaica Estates was a terrific place to grow up in.” Jamaica Estates was also the hometown of the fictitious McDowell family in the 1988 comedy film Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy.