08/26/14 1:00pm

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It’s unique, but multifaceted. It’s local, but international. It’s filthy rich in culture, but free. On August 30th, the Queens Museum will host Oye Corona, an afternoon celebration of art, music, dance, print-making, and exercise at Corona Plaza. Visitors will be able to partake in creative activities with roots in Bangladesh, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and even the United States.

Photos and information on the inspiring activities follow the jump.

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08/08/14 4:00pm

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Queens got talent. United States Tennis Association employees set up mini courts in Corona Plaza and gave free instruction to youngsters this morning. Activities included lessons on basic skills, balance, and coordination, as well as ball-and-racket exchanges and tips on long-term athletic development. The participants used loaned mini-rackets and foam balls, and USTA employees imparted gifts and provided information on low-cost programs at the nearby Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where the two-week US Open will take place starting on August 25th).

Then as a special treat, officials showed the permanent US Open singles trophies to the awed crowd. It was so much fun that the USTA will do it again in the same plaza next Friday, August 15th, at 10:30 am in conjunction with other activities such as healthy eating demonstrations, a merchant showcase, health screenings, and back-to-school discounts. Corona Plaza project manager William McCarthy hopes to offer these events weekly as part of his “Fridays Under the Seven” healthy living series. In the top photo, Assemblyman Francisco Moya holds the US Open men’s singles trophy, the same one that Rafael Nadal hoisted last year, in the second row, while City Council Member Julissa Ferreras shows the women’s singles trophy, which Serena Williams won last year. Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman is in back right in a suit, while Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol is in suspenders next to him.  Check out more photos after the jump… (more…)

05/06/14 11:00am

corona.plaza

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.

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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.

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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.

corona_pioneer

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.

11/27/13 9:45am

david-byrne-corona-plaza

Yesterday, local pols, the Department of Transportation and David Byrne (!) celebrated an $800,000 grant from J.P. Morgan Chase for Corona Plaza. DNAinfo and Streetsblog attended the event and said the grant will be used to maintain the pedestrian space and its new features for the coming years. Corona Plaza costs around $50,000 to $75,000 every year to maintain. Over the summer, the Department of Transportation started working on making the temporary plaza permanent. The goal is to finish the project, which includes a stage, better lighting, more green space and seating, in 2015.

So what brought the Talking Heads frontman all the way out to Corona Plaza? According to DNAinfo he told the crowd, “I’m not personally involved in this plaza, but I’m a musician and I live and work and am very supportive of these things going up everywhere. I’m just here to be supportive, and hope that this kind of initiative continues in the city.” We’ll take it!

David Byrne in Corona to Celebrate $800K Grant for Pedestrian Plazas [DNAinfo]
Ped Plazas in Low-Income Neighborhoods Get $800,000 Boost From Chase [Streetsblog]
Corona Plaza On Track to Be Upgraded from Temporary to Permanent [Q'Stoner]

Photo via Twitter

09/05/13 10:00am

corona-plaza-renderings

Another permanent plaza for Queens. The Department of Transportation and the design firm The RBA Group presented designs for Corona Plaza to the community late last month. A temporary plaza has been in place on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Street since the middle of last year. According to the Queens Courier, DOT and the community have been in talks about the permanent plaza design since this spring. The permanent design will feature plaza seating, bike racks and corrals, a stage, green space, improved lighting, signage, additional trash cans, a drinking fountain, and an information kiosk; DOT also plans to utilize the space right under the 7 train for storage. The next step is for the Public Design Commission to review these renderings within the next few months, with an eye to installing the permanent plaza by 2015.

Potential Plans for Corona Plaza Released [Queens Courier]

11/10/12 9:00am

Image Source: Queens Economic Development Corporation

Corona Cares for the Rockaways  is a cultural festival/hurricane relief event at the newly refurbished Corona Plaza (GMAP). Enjoy an afternoon of diverse dance performances, concerts, children’s activities, and art. Plus, there will be a checkpoint where people can donate materials to a van that will make nonstop round trips to The Rockaways and back.

Corona Cares for the Rockaways
Saturday, Nov. 10
Corona Plaza, Roosevelt Ave., between 103 and 104 Streets
12 noon-4 pm | Free

09/20/12 3:00pm

corona-plaza-queens

Image source: QEDC

We’ve written about Corona Plaza, the new pedestrian plaza along Roosevelt Ave by the 103rd Street 7 stop. The community has embraced it and it has become a true gathering place in the neighborhood, colloquially known now as “La Placita.” Last week (9/13) various stakeholders – the Queens Economic Development Corporation, NY Community Bancorp, elected officials, residents, nonprofits – came out to celebrate the first phase of the renovation.

And there is a second phase in the works, with more improvements to be implemented next year. (more…)