By Yvette Brown
Corona is known for its diversity, ranging from Hispanics to African Americans and Italian influences. Corona celebrates their diversity every year with popular summer festivals and many other traditions.
Corona went from suburban to the busy neighborhood that it is today once the Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1854. The station opened on National Street – named after the National Race Course, which opened the same year.
The neighborhood was once considered West Flushing, but it was renamed Corona in 1872 by music publisher Benjamin W. Hitchcock – he sold lots for residential development including two lots to the showman P.T. Barnum. Once that offering came about, development increased fast, especially after the elevated train service was built in 1917 along Roosevelt Avenue.
Corona was also known for their factories. The stained-glass factory of Louis Comfort Tiffany was built in 1893 on 97th Place between 43rd and 44th Avenues and it produced decorative lights, ceramics, jewelry and metal works. Most of Tiffany Studios’ work was displayed in a Manhattan showroom for customers like the Rockefellers, the Astors and Mark Twain along with others.
During the early 1970s, the Hispanic population grew as they lived alongside Germans, Italians, African Americans and Jewish families. Today, more than half of the neighborhood is filled with Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Peruvians, Colombians and Mexicans. Every summer, these cultures join together to host different festivals including the Ecuadorian Day Festival, the Dominican Day Festival and the Latin Mix Festival and they’re all celebrated in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park – the western part of the neighborhood right near 111th Street.
On 108th Street and 51st Avenue sits a small triangular park nicknamed “Spaghetti Park” by residents and originally named William F. Moore Park. This is where Italian men have been hosting bocce ball tournaments for decades. This is also where the neighborhood school, PS 14, would host their Christmas celebrations with carols. The park is enjoyed by both the elderly and young children.