Thursday, December 13, 2007

Indo-Carribeans Worship the Goddess Kali

At the Rajkumari Center for Indo-Caribbean Arts and Culture in Richmond Hill, Indo-Caribbean traditions from Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname are taught, preserved and passed on through sacred ritual and social interaction.

Every Sunday the Indo-Carribean community (originally from the Madrasi region of India) gathers at the Shri Maha Kali Devi Mandir temple on the border of Queens and Brooklyn for hours of healings and song devoted to the Hindu Mother Goddess Kali.

Click on the photo below to launch the audio slideshow.

This audio slideshow and accompanying story about folk arts in Queens is published on Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism's website, City of Change.

From Central Asia To A New Homeland

From her seventeenth floor apartment in LeFrak City, Gulchekhra Alimova runs Vatan Asia, a grassroots immigrant association that helps the growing number of Central Asian immigrants assimilate into American life.

Since she established the non-profit organization in 2003, it has grown to approximately 25 active members and over 100 volunteers. Alimova has become the inadvertent go-to person for Central Asian immigrant needs.

Alimova said Vatan Asia, which translates to "Homeland Asia" in Uzbek, has a network of about 5,000 in New York and 9,000 across the U.S. Alimova said she will now seek city grants or government sponsorship for her association.

This story was published in the Queens Tribune.

Teens Trace Their Roots At Bukharian Museum

In the densely packed Bukharian Jewish Museum on Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst, gold embroidered tapestries hang on walls, books and photos pile up on tabletops, and silk robes and tribal musical instruments cast an era not quite ready to be forgotten.

"I don't want my Bukharian Jewish history and culture to disappear without leaving any trace," said Aron Aronov, 69, who has collected or purchased over 3,000 items for his museum, including a 400-year-old deerskin Torah. "We [already] lost our environment. There is no desert, no camels [in New York], so I started this museum."

But, it's the youth's interest that captures the spirit of old and new in Bukharian culture. Imanuel Rybakov, 24, is the president of the Bukharian Jewish Youth Association - a 100-member group from the ages 16-35. He runs the Bukharian youth website (with an online dating service), gives guided tours of the museum and teaches the the farsi-inspired Bukhori language online and to peers.

"First, I was very interested in the history of my family" said Rybakov, whose family was deeply involved in the Bukharian community in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. "I was proud that I was coming from a family with such good roots."

Rybakov is patient and precise during his tour, explaining artifacts in detail, whether handling Soviet money or donning delicate, silk robes.

"Our mission statement is the integration of Bukharian Jews into American Jewish life," said Rybakov, a finance and economics major at Queens College. "We would like to create more programs to educate our youth about our background."

This story was published in the Queens Chronicle.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Corona: a neighborhood transformed

by Channtal Fleischfresser and Laura Isensee

Click on the photo to listen to Corona residents talk about the changes in their neighborhood over the last 30 years.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Changing Face of Corona

by Channtal Fleischfresser and Laura Isensee

Corona's changing demographics have affected Corona's politics and culture. Watch what longtime Corona residents have to say about the shifts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Black and White Flight in Corona

Between the bodegas, Latin restaurants, markets, and food carts selling tacos and empanadas, it’s hard to walk down the street in Corona these days without hearing mothers speaking Spanish to their young children or the sounds of Latin beats emanating from the music stores along Roosevelt Avenue.

Since the 1950s this community – less than six miles from Manhattan – was home to sizable Italian and African-American populations.

But in recent decades, the face of Corona has changed dramatically as Hispanic immigrants have settled in the neighborhood in increasing numbers, while white and African-American members of the community have moved out.

Click on the graphic to see how the neighborhood has changed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Koreans Support Other Ethnic Groups with Scholarships

Koreans in western Queens not only look out for each other, but they support neighboring ethnic groups, according to leaders of the Korean American community.

“We try to make more relationships with other cultures,” said Keun Ho Shin, 61, whose Korean American Association awards 20 scholarships to students of any ethnicity at Newtown High School in Elmhurst.

“The purpose of the association is to improve relationships with the community, no matter what ethnicity,” said Shin, owner of Cody Printing Corp. in Woodside.

The association is made up of Korean business owners, churches and individuals, and serves a community of over 100,000 in western Queens. Korean leaders break the language barrier and act as a bridge to service departments like police, fire and sanitation, according to Shin.

"[Our goal is] to get the proper service and give them the right direction,” said President Sean Shin, who translates police fliers and and community notices into Korean.

In a step beyond matters of service, John Park, 56, of Jackson Heights, encourages Koreans to take interest in their surrounding community and exercise their rights to vote. He is president of the Korean American Empowerment Council, a non-profit organization created 1998.

"We need strong friends, we have to grow up together," said Park. "I try to make [Koreans] ask, expand, [and] be open."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

110th Precinct reaches out to Chinese and Korean communities

The 110th Precinct in Elmhurst began a new initiative to reach out to the Asian community in September, after persistent under-reported crime and low meeting turnout among the Asian community (particularly among Chinese and Korean residents), according to police.

“If you saw one Asian face it was a lot,” said Debbie Pagano Cohen, community council officer. “It was time to focus on that. For such a large population, we don't see them at meetings."

The precinct began to translate meeting notices in Chinese and Korean, mailing them to key Korean and Chinese churches and businesses in September. Monthly community council meetings, and fliers on crime prevention and personal safety are also translated into Chinese, Korean (and Spanish).

September's community council meeting was catered with Chinese food (sponsored by Commerce Bank on Queens Boulevard). In October, approximately 120 Asian residents attended the community council meeting at the Elmhurst library, strategically located in a predominantly Asian neighborhood.

"It’s working," said Cohen. "Asian people are finally coming to the meetings.”

The next community council meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, November 14, back in its usual location at St. John's Hospital. There will be no Chinese food.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Adult Home in Elmhurst Offers New Program to Promote Independence

Two blocks from Moore Homestead Park in the heart of Elmhurst, the entrance to the Queens Adult Care Center is littered with cigarette butts, and people who appear to have nothing better to do than smoke them. Neighbors surrounding the 361-bed facility complain that residents beg for money, urinate in public and sit on parked cars.

Under new management since 2002, the facility has undergone renovations and is now seeking to broaden enrichment programs to transition some residents to the point of independence.

A newly constructed kitchen and laundry room remain untouched, behind two locked doors on the second floor. Barbara Faron, chief executive officer of Federation of Organizations (an independent not-for-profit welfare agency that provides onsite programming, social services and advocacy), said these facilities were designed to reintroduce basic life skills.

"Our primary focus is to work with the people in the adult homes to improve their quality of life, as they see fit," said Faron. "We are in the public sector, where consequences of long-term, serious mental illness and poverty converge."

The classes plan to bring together small groups of residents to teach how to shop for food, budget money, make nutritious decisions, and prepare a simple meal. Many advocacy groups for the mentally ill emphasize independence and employment as primary paths to recovery.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A tasty and crowded Chinese eatery in the heart of Elmhurst

My go-to spot for an inexpensive and fresh lunch is Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House on Whitney Avenue in Elmhurst. For $2.25, I order fresh pork and chives friend dumplings and a wonton soup.

"It's really good, fresh, homemade and amazingly cheap," said Johnny You, 31, chef's assistant/expediter at David Burke & Donatella Restaurant on the east side of Manhattan. "I don't know how they survive. The hand-drawn noodles are the best I've ever tasted."

Teenagers come on their way home from school or after hanging out at Broadway Park to eat along the wrap-around bar or the single communal table. Mothers stop by with young children and take orders to-go. I have never seen the shop empty, and during peak times, there is a line out the door. The items on the menu are limited to dumplings, buns and soup.

Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House
80 Whitney Avenue
Elmhurst, NY 11373
Open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Privilege Care Offers Immigrants Low-Cost Health Care

The Privilege Care medical clinic in Elmhurst, Queens, offers a private, low-cost alternative for undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for Medicare and Medicaid and receive little to no preventive care, but few immigrants know about the clinic.

“We’re not looking to make money off of people who don’t have money,” said Joshua Farkovitz, 29, administrator of Privilege Care, which opened in September 2006. “We offer access to care for a reasonable price,” he said.

Farkovitz said Privilege Care offers high-level patient care where patients’ wait time is less than 45 minutes, as opposed to Elmhurst Hospital, where a walk-in visitor can wait between two and seven hours before receiving care.

Farkovitz said he takes whatever patients can afford to pay. He said he breaks even, charging what it costs to provide a service to “cash-only” patients, who do not have an insurance provider.

“We’ll take $20, we’ll take $10 if that’s what they have,” he said.

For full article, please email channtal at gmail.

Fighting Graffiti at 110th Precinct

There is an understated beauty to the graffiti along the Long Island Railroad as it cuts through Corona and Elmhurst, Queens, along 45th Avenue and 94th Street. The pedestrian walkway over the tracks, across from the construction site of the Corona Park High Schools, is nearly covered in graffiti markings. But here, as in other parts of town, it gives buildings a derelict, untended air.

One person keeping tabs on graffiti is Police Officer Christopher Skinner, graffiti coordinator for the 110th precinct. He mobilizes area residents, including young people, to clean up graffiti in Corona and Elmhurst, preserving the neighborhood through community action.

“As the city gets cleaner,” said Skinner, “graffiti stays the same. Some see it as art. It’s not art, it’s vandalism.”

For full story, please contact channtal at gmail.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Building Continues at Potentially Toxic Site in Elmhurst

In response to the potentially toxic soil underneath the construction site of the Corona Park High Schools, located at 45-10 94th Street, I ventured over and received a hard-hat tour of the four story building by George Mantis of M.A. Angeliades, the contractor for the project.

Mantis dismissed the claim that seepage from the demolished factory on Corona Avenue at 90th Street - which as of Monday, currently had Stop Work Order posted - has contaminated his construction site's already-tested soil.

A project of this enormity takes up to two to three years to complete, but union workers are logging double and triple shifts to make the deadline, according to Mantis. Approximately 250 construction workers were on the site working on various levels and sections of the former leather factory. The project began in July 2007 and faces a staggering completion date of August 2008.

"I want to cry every time we come here," said Mantis. "It's impossible to do this job in 13 months."

Although only a shell of the school is erected, teachers and principals have been assigned and the doors must open next August. The building will house several high schools, alleviating the overflow of area students.

"We are surgical, and always on time," said Mantis. "[An unmet deadline] hasn't happened in 15 years, and I hope this is not going to be the first. That's why I'm here."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kids Join NYPD Explorer Program to Volunteer (Not Become Cops)

The NYPD Law Enforcement Exploring program is open to those under age 21 as an introduction to the police department, but only about five percent become police officers.

"Most kids that are showing up are kids who want to be part of community," said Officer McKenzie.

At the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, a group of about 10 to 15 explorers meet once a week to volunteer their time for community service, including graffiti clean-up, feeding the homeless, and visiting hospitals. The program is run like a mini police department, where explorers learn police jargon and how to respond to the scene of a crime. The explorers are currently in the middle of flag football season against other precinct explorers. They also take field trips to museums on a monthly basis and march in uniform in parades.

According to McKenzie, the program attempts to break down the fear kids may have of the police. "Sometimes they think we're the enemy," said McKenzie. "[We just want] them to feel comfortable talking to the police."

Charles Rivera, 18, has been an explorer for almost three years. Rivera is currently a full-time student at John Jay, and said he hopes to join the NYPD or FBI after graduation.

"It’s a great program for teens 14 to 21, [and] kids in high school that want to learn more about the police department and help the community. It's good for college applications and job applications," said Rivera.

Officer McKenzie said it didn't bother her that 95 percent of the explorers don't become police officers. "I like successful kids who are moving on and doing positive things," she said.

For additional information, please contact Officer McKenzie at 718.476.8271.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Daily News: Critics say Elmhurst school site too toxic

Oct. 30, 2007 -- The Daily News reported that toxic chemicals may have contaminated the industrial area designated to house three high schools next September in Elmhurst.

Environmental experts are waiting to confirm whether toxic chemicals (a mixture of mercury, lead and other toxic chemicals) have leeched from the soil under a former factory (located at 90-15 Corona Avenue) into the soil under the proposed "Arts and Leather" high school (located at 45-10 94th Street).

The full article is available in The Daily News.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Tai Chi Is Winning Over Converts To Exercise

Tai Chi seems to be growing in popularity for young and old, thin and overweight, and sufferers of disease or abuse. Different various ethnic and age groups find the practice appealing.

“The gamut of interest runs from children to college students,” said Dino Blanche, a 47-year-old, African-American Tai Chi instructor in Elmhurst. “As people's health conditions are growing troublesome, with obesity and diabetes, it’s not just for the elderly.”

Researchers have studied the health benefits of Tai Chi, ranging from reduced blood pressure and heart problems, improved functionality for chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis and osteoarthritis, to general stress management.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines moving meditation, exercise and self-defense. It was founded on the Taoist belief that good health results from balanced chi (life energy).

The full article is published in the Queens Chronicle.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's Not His Father's Neighborhood

Joe Neufeld runs the funeral parlor his father opened in 1940. The Neufeld family has been rooted in Elmhurst since 1900. Though he now lives on Long Island, Neufeld said he would return to Elmhurst tomorrow if his wife, Claire, allowed it. But, he also said he sees problems in the community he loves.

Neufeld said he worries about the negative ripple effects of overcrowding and overdevelopment on infrastructure, schools and traffic.

In addition to over-development, houses crammed with people and illegal basement apartments have added to overcrowding. Queens Community Board 4 District Manager, Richard Italiano, cited a laundry list of stresses on the community services, including cramped schools, overflowing garbage and burdensome traffic.

The full article is published in the Queens Tribune.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Corona Gets Into Halloween Spirit

Corona residents were enjoying All-Hallows' Eve even before it got dark Wednesday. Adults and children alike roamed the streets dressed as dinosaurs, bumble bees, superheroes, and kittens. Best to enjoy the Halloween spirit before nightfall though, as 110th precinct officers warn that Halloween is one of their busiest nights of the year!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Little League Baseball Stars

Saturdays in October are known for colorful leaves and brisk temperatures. Last weekend the leaves were still green and the warm sunshine had Linden Park buzzing with the shouts of delighted children and attentive parents.

The baseball field on the eastern side of the park was nearly obscured by the crowd watching the 9 and 10-year-old players of the Queens Dominicana and Manhattan M&J baseball leagues.

The two teams played each other as part of the Back-to-School Tournament, which brings together eight leagues from four boroughs and is scheduled to finish in the beginning of November. Parents and coaches alike value the quality time spent with the children and emphasize the positive experience of learning to play a competitive sport.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Volunteers Renovate Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall

Since January, Jehovah’s Witnesses from across the United States have come to New York and volunteered their time to help renovate Corona’s Kingdom Hall, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ house of worship. The hall is set to open by late November, at 42-06 National St.

Read the full article at the Queens Chronicle.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Latin Beats Replace Jazz Swing

The honking horns, the shadowy overpass, the pungent smell of the fish market, and the competing strains of Latin music emanating from nearby record stores at the 103rd Street stop of the seven train can overwhelm the unaccustomed visitor to Corona. A sightseer descending from the elevated subway station onto Roosevelt Avenue below asks for directions, but receives only blank stares.

This scene plays out all too frequently for visitors seeking the home of jazz legend Louis Armstrong, said Deslyn Dyer, assistant director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives. The house, which will celebrate its fourth anniversary as a museum on October 15, has worldwide appeal for jazz fans and receives 10,000 visitors a year, said Dyer. But Corona’s population has changed in recent decades, and the museum has struggled to attract residents and to make itself relevant to the community.
Read the full article in the Queens Courier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thai the Way You Want It (if You Dare) in Elmhurst

The New York Times reviewed and recommended the new Thai restaurant, Nusara, on Broadway and Whitney Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens. The NYT placed Nusara on the short list of great Thai restaurants in Queens. Nusura is located at 82-80 Broadway, (718) 898-7996.

According to the article: BEST DISHES Fried pork jerky; tod mun (fried fish cakes); Siam grilled chicken; som tum; whole fried fish (try the chu-chee curry or thai chile sauces); khao mon gai. PRICE RANGE Appetizers and smaller dishes, $3.95 to $7.95; Main courses, $6.50 to $18.95. Bring your own beer, wine or liquor. CREDIT CARDS Cash only. HOURS 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monks, Honor Guard and Patriot Guard Salute Soldier Killed in Iraq (in Elmhurst)

The final funeral service for Spec. Chirasak Vidhyarkorn, 32, of Bayside, took place at Gerard J. Neufeld Funeral Home in Elmhurst today at 12:30 p.m.

Family and friends threw yellow cellophane-wrapped quarters tied with red ribbons (symbols of good fortune in Thai culture) in the street at the intersection of 43rd and Whitney Avenues as Honor Guard pallbearers presented the flag-draped casket. Police closed off 43rd Avenue to traffic during the ceremony.

At least sixteen Patriot Guard Riders (volunteers and veterans, including those from the Vietnam and Gulf Wars) held flags as the Honor Guard played Taps, fired rifles and presented a folded American flag to Vidhyarkorn's family. The riders followed the hearse (on motorcycles) to the crematory in Middle Village.

"It really brought to the forefront what these [soldiers] do for you," said Raymond Neufeld of Neufeld Funeral Home. "You don't see the full effect until you see something like this. It is a wake up to the reality of it all."

Neufeld said Vidhyarkorn was the first funeral service at Neufeld Funeral Home for a soldier killed in Iraq. Vidhyarkorn was killed in a non-combat related incident on Sept. 29 in Diwanihay, Iraq.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Get your fresh produce and your science, too!

In the shadow of the space shuttle replicas at the New York Hall of Science, in Corona, Queens, produce vendors from across the New York area have come every Sunday since July to sell their goods.

Fresh produce is brought in from Yorktown Heights, the Hudson River Valley, Long Island, and Staatsburg, in Dutchess County, including others.

This is the first year that Community Markets, the market's organizer, has held a farmer's market at this location. The market manager, Gena McGuire, 32, said the market brings in a mix of community members and visitors to the museum.

"People's response has been wonderful," she said. The market, located at 111th Street and 48th Avenue in Corona, will be open on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. until November 18.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Coronas have a long history in Corona

Corona is a big name in the Dominican Republic.

"It's like the name Trump here," said Eddie Corona, 37 (pictured, left).

So it's no surprise that when Dominican immigrants, many of whom were named Corona, moved into Corona, Queens, starting in the 1930s, they thought the town was named after them.

It's hard to know exactly how many Coronas live in Corona, but there are so many of them Coronas themselves can't keep track. Nicholas Corona, 42, of the Corona Brothers Hardware store on National Street, didn't know about Felix Corona, 56, who lives a few blocks north. Nicholas Corona said there are at least 50 Coronas in the neighborhood.

As one of the oldest family names to immigrate to New York, the Coronas own several businesses around town and have made their mark on the neighborhood.

Meet Felix Corona, of Corona

Legend obscures the history of how Corona received its name. Some say it was to distance itself from Long Island as the little crown of Queens, while others like to think the neighborhood was named after the large number of Dominicans with the surname Corona.

Regardless of the name’s true provenance, Coronas were among the earliest Dominican immigrants move to Corona, Queens. No one better represents this legacy than Felix Corona, whose great uncle Amado Corona was among the first Dominican immigrants to arrive in New York in 1929 on the steamship Huron.

And yet Felix Corona overturns four generations of his family’s history in the United States. While Dominicans continue to immigrate to the U.S., after more than forty years, Corona, 56, has chosen to return to his homeland.

For full article, please contact channtal at gmail.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Skaters Kick-Push or Carry Down Queens Blvd.

"Real skaters don't walk with their skateboards, they ride them," said Sean Ewing, manager of the sneaker and skateboard store, Format, on Queens Boulevard.

Today, the skater image popularized by music videos, YouTube and video games has eclipsed the rebel skater. Teenagers in Elmhurst, Queens have adopted the revised skateboard image they see in music videos like rapper Lupe Fiasco's 2006 song "Kick Push."

New skaters seek out the glamorized look of skinny jeans, designer logo t-shirts, short rimmed baseball hats, brand new Nike SB dunks, and of course, hand.

This story was published in the Queens Tribune.

Below is a map of stores and places to skate in and around Elmhurst, Queens.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Poet pens love note to LeFrak City

My City is LeFrak by Gulchekhra Alimova

My Home, my sweet Home
You are my skin and bone
You have big country tone
Canada, London and Rome

Look, how better life living
How blue-sky pool swimming
Food-Bazaar is shopping
Library is in my building

View from my room dining
Express Horace Harding
Garages and public parking
Looking, thinking, loving

I want you always shining
People are lucky smiling
I hope you never crying
Oh, pray God blessing

My romantic wide park
Be never short and dark
I wish always Good luck
Oh, my City is LeFrak

Gulchekhra Alimova is a poet living in LeFrak City. She is also the President of Vatan Asia, Inc., an immigrant association dedicated to Central Asians living in the U.S. Other poems by Alimova include I love you, America! and Forgive Me Please, My Lovely Lord.

Building for the class, not the mass

The heirs to the LeFrak real estate empire are taking the legacy of the family business in a new direction, according to Charles V. Bagli in the New York Times Metro Section today. The late Samuel J. LeFrak was known for building sturdy, functional buildings such as those in the LeFrak City in Corona, Queens. His sons and grandsons are now planning to build glitzy, modern buildings in prime real estate areas such as Beverly Hills, California.

Queens Blogger rants on high-end condos in Elmhurst, Queens

In Sunday's post, Why Elmhurst is Full of Queens Crap, the blog reported that developers are marketing four high-end condominium complexes to professionals who desire Elmhurst's proximity to Manhattan and shopping convenience.

Queens Crap is blog "focused on the overdevelopment and 'tweeding' of the borough of Queens."'s October issue features an article, Heeding the siren call...of Elmhurst, which discusses how developers are attempting to lure Manhattanites to "quiet" Elmhurst.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

E Train Zips into Elmhurst, Queens

The E Train is the fastest way to get from midtown Manhattan to Elmhurst, Queens. On a recent weekday commute, I left 42nd Street at exactly 12:00 p.m. Seven stops and 21 minutes later I emerged from the Jackson Heights - 74th Street Roosevelt Avenue station.

Other subway lines to Elmhurst include: 7 (local), 7 (express), F, G, R, V.

For other commuting information, online bus and subway directions are easily accessible from or the MTA's website.

Please share your E Train commute with us. Do you have any comments on E Train service or know another route?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bukharian Jews celebrate Sukkot at Queens Gymnasia in Elmhurst

Wedged in a quiet alley, workers constructed a wooden frame with a latticed roof that stretched across back of the building.

In celebration of Sukkot, the seven-day Jewish festival that ended earlier this week, generations of Jews have built these temporary huts in backyards, or on porches. Like their ancestors who wandered the desert for 40 years in search of the Promised Land, they gather to eat, entertain and even sleep in these temporary dwellings.

It was no different this year at the Queens Gymnasia (a Russian term for secondary school) where Jewish students decorated the three-sided sukkah to honor Jewish identity, history and tradition.

The Queens Gymnasia in Elmhurst is a private, Orthodox school steeped in the Bukharian (Central Asian) Jewish culture. The school was founded in 2002 by Lev Leviev as a tuition-free, alternative to public school to address concerns of assimilation in New York and subsequent dilution of the Bukharian Jewish culture and traditions.

Corona Honors the Fallen

Marlon Bustamante Place is at the intersection of 104th Street and 47th Avenue, named for one of three Corona, Queens, residents killed in the Iraq War. A mural of a smiling Bustamante decorates a wall next to an empty construction lot.

Servicemen who have died in the war include:

Spec. Justin R. Garcia of Elmhurst
Sgt. Jose Gomez of Corona
Spc. Jonathan Rivadeneira of Corona

Can you help me with my homework?

At 3 p.m. the first kids start to trickle in. Most are hyper and chatty and carry some form of novelty candy designed to provide an instantaneous sugar rush. One boy is already hard at work, counting out sums on his fingers, focusing intently on his workbook.

Although there are no windows to the outside world, a plate glass window connects this classroom to the rest of the Corona library. The yellow concrete walls are lined with shelves filled with books, arts and crafts supplies, and games. There are five tables spread out with chairs for about 30 students.

With the recent start of the new school year, the Corona Library re-initiated its after-school homework help program for the community’s schoolchildren.

The BOOST program, an acronym for Best Out of School Time, is organized by the Queens Library and helps elementary and middle school-aged children with their homework assignments in English, math, and science. The program meets at the Corona Library branch each weekday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m.

For the full article, please contact channtal at gmail.

Do you know what 'Beware Dog' means?

Enrique Lugo, a longtime civic activist, believes that in a diverse neighborhood like Corona, Queens, community services are in short supply. Four months ago he opened a small nonprofit community outreach program called the Corona National Community Center. The center provides education services, including English classes and tips on navigating American culture, for immigrants in the Corona area. It is located at 40-10 National St.

For the full article, please contact channtal at gmail.

Santa Claus was born in Elmhurst, Queens!

Clement Clarke Moore, author of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1882), spent most of his childhood at his family's Newtown (now Elmhurst) estate. P.S. 13 Clement Clarke Moore School on 55-01 94th Street and CC Moore Homestead Park on 83rd and Broadway in Elmhurst are named after the author.

Other Famous Residents include:

  • Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice
  • Samuel Lord, Founder of Lord and Taylor, a department store
  • Cord Meyer, prominent developer in the late 1800s and early 1900s, who developed Elmhurst
  • William Casey, President Reagan’s campaign manager, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, director of the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Patty Duke, actress
  • Don Rickles, comedian and actor
  • Tommie Agee, Met's baseball legend
  • Vera-Ellen, dancer, taught at the Anaranta Dance Studio above the Elmwood Movie Theater in Elmhurst

Buildings go up and come crashing down in Elmhurst, Queens

Overbuilding and over-development run rife in Elmhurst, NY. The map illustrates two lists of buildings in transition.

The red balloon icon represents new building permits and proposals to the Department of Buildings since 2006. The triangular icon represents demolition proposals since 2006.

This information was derived from the Buildings Information System, the Department of Buildings' database.

View Larger Map

Corona's Legacy

The Corona area in Queens (south of LaGuardia Airport) was one of the first areas to which African Americans were permitted to move. As a result, the area attracted many prominent African Americans who wanted to live outside of the city, including:

Trumpeters Dizze Gillespie and Clark Terry
Saxophonists Cannonball and Nat Adderley
Jimmy Heath, who still lives in the Dorrie Miller co-ops in North Corona
Malcolm X
Duke Ellington

Ella Fitzgerald

Harry Belafonte

Read more in Joseph Berger's article in the New York Times

Things You Should Know About Corona

Paul Simon referred to Corona in "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard": "Say goodbye to Rosie, the queen of Corona" (1972)

F. Scott Fitzgerald referenced Corona in The Great Gatsby. He referred to the Corona dumps as the "valley of ashes."

Corona was the setting for the 1970s TV show "All in the Family"

Louis Armstrong spent the last three decades of his life in Corona, Queens. You can visit the Louis Armstrong House museum at 34-56 107th St.

I Can Hear Music

View Larger Map

The culture and music of Corona, Queens, has changed along with its population. As large numbers of Hispanic immigrants have come into the neighborhood, restaurants, shops, and music stores have changed accordingly. With very few exceptions, most of the music stores in Corona have Spanish names and cater to a Spanish-speaking public.

The Low-Down on Corona

Miranda Siegel takes a look at the changing face of Corona in amNewYork. Check it out for a list of places to eat, shop, things to do, as well as a glimpse of life in the thriving neighborhood.

Newsday Article on Elmhurst, Queens - March 2006

Elmhust: Boulevard of Life by Robert Polner takes a look at the changing faces and places of Elmhurst, Queens. The article covers history, change, development on both sides of Queens Boulevard, the entrepreneurial spirit of residents, problems, criticisms, hopes, and dreams. It is a comprehensive survey of Elmhurst as of March 18, 2006. It has "something for everyone."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Profile of Elmhurst, Queens

Elmhurst occupies the northwest corner of Queens and is elevated 26 feet above sea level. The town is bordered by Roosevelt Avenue to the north in Jackson Heights, the Long Island Expressway to the south in Rego Park, Junction Boulevard to the east in Corona, and the Long Island Rail Road to the west in Maspeth and Woodside. Queens Boulevard splices through 1.2 miles of Elmhurst.

Elmhurst was founded in 1652 as Middleburgh by the English or Dutch and was largely rural farmland until the in the early 20th century when the town assumed the name Elmhurst. During the early 1900s, Germans, Jews, Irish, Scots, and Italians settled in Elmhurst. In 1937, the subway was routed through Elmhurst and brought more residents to the community.

At the close of World War II, veterans began to purchase property outside the city with low-interest federal loans. By the time of the World's Fair in 1964-65, the suburbs were luring Elmhurst's residents with tax incentives and subsidies. At the same time, the United States Immigration and Nationalization Act abolished national origin quotas, and the face of America, Queens and Elmhurst changed to that of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society.

Today, Elmhurst’s 11373 ZIP code is the most ethnically diverse in the country, and potentially in the world. Approximately 73% of its 106,000 residents were born in a foreign country, according to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau. Elmhurst is 45% Hispanic, 40% Asian, 10% white and 5% other. An estimated 140 languages or dialects are spoken within the community. Major religions include Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, a waning Catholicism, and to a lesser extent, Judaism and Islam.

The 2000 U.S. Census Bureau reports: a median age of 33.4; a median household income of $38,099; an unemployment rate at 8.9%; the gross median rent at $790 per month; and, the median housing value at $228,837. The top 311 issues include quality of life complaints, such as noise, illegal parking and graffiti. A rise in burglaries and grand larceny also pose a concern.

Elmhurst continues to attract new residents with its swift access to Manhattan, affordable housing, employment opportunities, and a generally immigrant-friendly neighborhood. Elmhurst is also home to the U.S.'s highest grossing mall per square foot, the Queens Center Mall, and two hospitals.

However, a booming population, unbridled development of multi-story buildings in place of one- or two-family homes, and illegal housing drain the existing infrastructure and services.

While Elmhurst has grown, its pipes, sewer system and electrical board date back to the early 1900s. As a result of two summer storms and Elmhurst’s already high water table, the sewer system could not pump water out fast enough. FEMA declared Elmhurst—and Queen's County—a disaster area on August 31, 2007.

There is a sense of two (or more) Elmhursts: the “old guard” and the “new immigrants.” Long-time residents complain about improper zoning, the persistent smell of sewage, the mounds of garbage in public receptacles (due to illegal housing), and dangerously overwhelmed hospitals and schools. They feel their quality of life is grossly compromised and Elmhurst’s golden age has eclipsed them.

New immigrants breathe a renewed vitality into an area previously known for gangs, drugs and the Boulevard of Death. They are generally working class people who want to carve out better lives.

The question remains whether Elmhurst can one day resemble that nostalgic community it once was, where neighbors live together and look out for each other. Or, is Elmhurst a collection of several communities where residents—divided by cultural and linguistic barriers—live among each other and simply tolerate differences?

Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona

Corona, Queens, is a neighborhood forever reinventing itself. It was first settled in 1655 when it was little more than farmland and forest. Today it is a bustling, multi-ethnic part of Queens, the sounds of Spanish and the smell of tacos frequently filling the air.

Originally considered part of Newtown, Long Island, Corona grew steadily during the 1800s. The Flushing Railroad, built in 1853, brought more people to the area. The National Race Course operated in Corona between 1854 and 1869, until it was sold at auction in 1874 to make room for the expansion of the railroad track.

Real estate developer Thomas Waite Howard coined the name Corona in 1870 when he called the neighborhood “the crown of Queens County.” By 1900, Corona was made up of immigrants from England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia.

Corona grew from 2,500 residents in 1898 to 40,000 in the early 1900s. In 1917, the elevated subway line was installed along Roosevelt Avenue, bringing much greater mobility to the area. The Corona Meadows were filled in, and would later be known as Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

The Lefrak housing development was built in the mid-1960s for working and middle-class families. The twenty-building, 40-acre complex houses over 14,000 people. The area was traditionally home to a large Jewish community, although the area has come to house many African Americans as well as immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Although Corona had a large Italian population until the 1980s, it has since decreased, and a greater number of Hispanics have moved into the neighborhood. Today, Corona is home to many Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Ecuadorians, Colombians, and other South American groups, as well as Asian Americans, African Americans, and a few remaining Italian Americans. As of 2000, two-thirds of Corona’s population of 85,730 was Hispanic.

A walk around Corona reveals many of the area’s trends: over-development and not enough supporting infrastructure. While several parks throughout the neighborhood are well tended, they contrast markedly with many residential areas, particularly those that lie off the main thoroughfares. There is scarcely a block lacking some sign of construction or development. Single-family homes are being replaced by larger buildings meant to house more families, as housing prices increase, according to District Manager Richard Italiano.

Another community concern, perhaps reflecting population growth and the rapid turnover of residents, is litter. It lines gutters, yards, and sidewalks. Trashcans are hard to find. Lawns are frequently untended, giving the neighborhood a haggard look. The 110th Precinct Chief, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pilkington, said the turnover rate for many Corona residents is roughly 3-4 years before they move out of the neighborhood. Investment in the area’s appearance may therefore not be a priority for some resident. At a recent Community Board 4 meeting, most of the board members, who are older community residents, voiced concern about the widespread presence of graffiti in the neighborhood.

The northern part of Corona is very predominantly Latino. Most shop owners presuppose knowledge of Spanish, and it is by far the language heard most frequently on the street. As one approaches Lefrak City in the southwest corner of Corona, however, there is a greater African-American and Eastern European presence, including many Russians.