The IRT Flushing Line opened in stages between 1915 and 1928. The stations between Grand Central and Vernon-Jackson opened in 1915. Meanwhile, in Queens, the Hunters Point and Court House Square stations opened in November 1916, and the elevated stations out to 103rd/Corona Plaza in April 1917. There were 3 further extensions: to 111th Street in October 1925; Willets Point Boulevard (modern signage erroneously leaves off the “Boulevard”, as the actual Willets Point is at Fort Totten) in May 1927; and finally, an underground station on Main Street on January 2, 1928. The line was extended west two stops to Times Square by 1927. The Flushing Line is due to expand again, to the West Side Javits Convention Center, in late 2014.
Seen from the el platform is what was once the end of the Flushing Line between 1917 and 1925, called Corona Plaza/Alburtis Avenue before Queens streets were numbered in the 1920s. A couple of years ago this bit of Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Streets was closed to vehicular traffic and became a true pedestrian plaza.
The “Walgreens” marquee seen used to belong to the Plaza Theatre, which opened in November 1927, surviving all the way to 2005 playing Hollywood fare with Spanish subtitles. It has been a drugstore since then.
Chicken chain Pollo Campero opened in Corona with some fanfare about a dozen years ago (as of 2014). The chain was founded in Guatemala in 1971 and after expanding into several countries in Central and South America, now has 50 branches in the States, as well as in Asia and Europe, over 300 in all.
In 1854, the National Racing Association, a group of Southern horse owners, purchased a farm and erected a track to which they sent their racing horses to compete. On June 26, 1854, the first race was run at the National Racetrack, coinciding with the official opening of the main line of the Flushing Railroad, which created a stop for the track. In 1856, the track opened for the season as the “Fashion Pleasure Ground,” named after the champion horse, Fashion. In 1858, the track hosted the first baseball game for which an admission fee was charged. In 1861, the owners transported their horses back down South to help the Confederacy during the Civil War, so northern horses took their place. In 1867, the racehorse, Dexter, broke the world’s trotting record for the 1-mile course at the Corona track. Ulysses S. Grant attended a race there shortly after becoming President-elect in 1868. In 1869, the track hosted its last race and in 1871, railroad tracks for the Woodside Branch of the Flushing Railroad were laid through it, with a station called Grinnell located right in the center of the racing oval. The track structure and railroad stations are completely gone today; the only remnant of the racetrack is National Street, the route that ran past the park’s entrance.
A short walk down National Street to 43rd Avenue will reveal what was originally the Union Evangelical Church at 102nd Street, built in 1870 the first church in Corona. The land for the church was donated by Charles Leverich, a wealthy area landowner, who also became instrumental in the church’s success.
A short distance away on 42nd Avenue west of National is a house belonged to Maurice Connolly, Queens Borough President from 1911-1928. Connolly was the youngest and longest serving Queens borough president but fell from power due to a major sewer scandal. The house has been given new beige siding since this photo was taken a few years ago.
Beginning in 1890, the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Volunteer Fire Company operated out of the small peaked building on the right side of this photo that dates back to the civil war era, nearly unrecognizable as a former firehouse today. In 1913, the city of New York took over firefighting services in Corona and built a modern firehouse on 43rd Avenue the next year, between 97th Place and 99th Street, that still stands.