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A neighborhood rebrands as LIC to distance itself from LI

Street scenes from Long Island City in Queens.

Street scenes from Long Island City in Queens. (Feb. 19, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

Long Islanders snicker at Long Island City's identity crisis.

The Queens neighborhood's inhabitants already label their diverse community LIC -- just to distinguish it from Long Island's suburban presence. Leaders in the neighborhood are running with the label, hoping to use it in marketing and for community identity.

"They should be proud to have Long Island in their name," said women's clothier Julie Marchesella, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, who chuckled at the idea of using LIC to label the community. "Long Island is a beautiful place, with wineries, fishing, mansions and restaurants galore."

"Where is Long Island City anyway? I can't remember," Sylvia Chertow of Rockville Centre joked with her husband, Jerry. "Jerry, didn't you work there once?"

Jerry Chertow replied he did.

"Before 1965. I worked in one of the factories," he said. "It was a dreary place. I pass through Long Island City when I'm on the railroad going into Manhattan. It's a washing station where the railroad cars are washed."

Trying to sound supportive, he added: "I'm sure it's gotten a lot nicer."

Marketing and tourism officials said they want to be known as LIC to lose that dreary industrial image and align the area more to Manhattan's chic neighborhood names, such as SoHo and TriBeCa. They are reshaping the area into one with high-rise apartments, trendy boutiques, restaurants and hotels.

Rob MacKay of the Queens Local Development Corp. Tourism Council said the Long Island City name conjures up images of "Oh, that's too far from Manhattan."

It turns tourists off, he said. "They think it's either in suburban hell or the Hamptons," said MacKay, who noted that local businesses already use the LIC acronym in shop names.

"We have LIC Coffee Shop and LIC Market," MacKay said.

Makes sense to his counterpart on the Island.

"I can understand why they want to associate with Manhattan. It makes sense," said R. Moke McGowan, president of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission.

With tongue firmly in his cheek, McGowan added: "Long Island City is far less expensive than Manhattan and more affordable -- it's the quintessential Manhattan suburb."

LIC resident Lisa Gneo, director of sales and marketing for Z NYC Hotel in, well, LIC, said the name change is not an insult to Long Island.

"I lived in Garden City and Valley Stream," she said. "It's just that LIC gives us branding."

For residents, LIC already is part of the area's lexicon.

"We don't even spell it out on our envelopes," Gneo said. "We just write LIC, New York. It's a neighborhood thing. People like LIC. It's a nickname and a pretty good nickname, too."

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