Not to be confused with the tropical island, Jamaica is also a Queens neighborhood, located eastside near JFK airport. So if you were really looking for Jamaica the island, there are some handy airplanes nearby.
Historic switches between poverty and gentrification have left Jamaica with a diverse population. African Americans have a slim population majority, but the area also includes residents from Asia and remnants of a once populous Jewish community.
In the last decade, a serious interest in redevelopment and a convenient location near the airport has put this neighborhood on track for attracting business and development. Jamaica Center, the major transportation hub, includes subway access, the Long Island Rail Road, and the AirTrain that travels to JFK International Airport. To capitalize on Jamaica Center, the NYC Dept of City Planning has rezoned the surrounding area to prepare for a commercial boom. This being said, the NYC subway only services the northern border of the neighborhood near the transit hub, so residents living in the rest of the gigantic neighborhood need alternative form of travel. The nearby Van Wyck Expressway and LIRR offer some relief.
The signature Tudor homes of Jamaica are slowly giving way to new types of construction. Zoning restrictions regulated building height and density to some degree, but lack of landmark status leaves many older homes relatively unprotected. This is good news for people who want to do major renovation or rebuilding, but bad news for those worried that development in Jamaica is out-of-control. Many single or multifamily detached homes and some row houses are available, and the median sales price of $435K is remarkably inexpensive for NYC. For what rental apartments there are, the median rent for a studio is about $900/mo and $1040 for a 1Br. Housing costs may change drastically in the near future as Jamaica has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the city thanks to the subprime lending crisis.