In New York City many soft drinks have come and gone over the last 100 years, but one major player had been located right here in our Borough of Queens.
It wasn’t Coca-Cola, which until 1935 had dominated the market. In 1936, Pepsi, which was growing in popularity after introducing a 12-ounce bottle, built a plant at 47-51 33 St. in Long Island City. It was such a success and grew so quickly it was relocated to 46-00 5 St., overlooking the East River. Pepsi executives worked out of offices in upstate Purchase, but the production and bottling were here up until 1999.
In 2001, the Elghanayan family and their company, Rockrose Development, became designated developers of the north end of the Queens West waterfront. They acquired 21 acres from Pepsi, leaving out a 60-by-200-foot parcel the cola company had carved out to serve as a permanent home for its famous billboard.
With the construction of a 25-story luxury tower at 46-10 Center Blvd., the Elghanayans decided to incorporate the Pepsi-Cola sign as part of the project.
The lower eight floors were recessed 12 feet, keeping a 45-foot distance from the famous 120-foot-long sign. The idea was to have the colossal pop-art sign serve as as a focal point of attention and admiration.
The Elghanayans are Iranian Jews who immigrated to the United States in 1948 and settled in Forest Hills Gardens. The name of their company, Rockrose, was derived from the block they lived on in the Gardens, Rockrose Place.