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.