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Queens Chronicle

Corona area was a race track

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Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:30 am

Corona, east of Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue, is bounded by the Grand Central Parkway and Junction Boulevard. It was once known as West Flushing and was the home of the National Race Course from 1854 to 1856, when it was renamed Fashion Race Course, after a champion horse. The race track closed in 1866.

Corona got its name in 1870, when a developer began building homes on the old race track property. By the turn of the century, it had a moderate Jewish population mixed with Italian immigrant laborers. After World War I, when much of Queens was still farmland, Corona had its own newspaper, six public schools, two parochial schools and a “colored” congregational church.

One of the main arteries running through the community is Corona Avenue. The trolley car shown in the photo is headed for Ridgewood as its final destination. In this small one-block area was Berger’s Hardware, Thau’s Butcher, Greenberg’s Stationery, Kahn’s Bakery, Rubenstein’s Paint Supply and Lou Levine’s Grocery Store.

By the 1960s things had changed. Greenberg’s Stationery had become Clara Baldi’s Italian pastry shop. Lou Levine’s grocery became Vito’s Luncheonette. By 1980 all the old Jewish names were replaced with Italian ones. Now, the Italians have moved on and the stores are dominated by a variety of different Hispanic-owned businesses.

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