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Elmhurst, Queens

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Title: Elmhurst, Queens  
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Elmhurst, Queens

Neighborhood of Queens
The intersection of Queens Boulevard and 57th Avenue; the Macy's store in Queens Center is in the background
The intersection of Queens Boulevard and 57th Avenue; the Macy's store in Queens Center is in the background
Country United States
State New York
County Queens
Settlement (Dutch) 1652
Population (2010)
 • Total 88,427
 • Hispanic or Latino 43.1%
 • Asian 38.9%
 • White 13.6%
 • Two or more races 5.8%
 • African American 2.0%
ZIP code 11373
Area code(s) 718, 347, 917, 929

Elmhurst (formerly Newtown) is a working/middle class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens in the United States, on Long Island. It is bounded by Roosevelt Avenue on the north; the Long Island Expressway on the south; Junction Boulevard on the east; and the New York Connecting Railroad on the west.[1] The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 4.


  • History 1
  • Chinatown 2
  • Religion 3
  • Malls 4
  • Streets and street names 5
  • Parks 6
  • Education 7
    • Library 7.1
    • Schools 7.2
  • Transportation 8
  • Notable residents 9
  • In popular culture 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • Further reading 13


The village was established in 1652 by the Dutch as Middenburgh (Middleburgh) and was a suburb of New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam) in New Netherland (Nieuw Nederland). The original European settlers of Elmhurst were from the nearby colony of Maspat (now called Maspeth), following threats and attacks by local native Americans.[1] When the British took over New Netherland in 1664, they renamed Middleburgh as New Town (Nieuwe Stad) to maintain the Dutch heritage. This was eventually simplified to Newtown. Among the English settlers in the present Elmhurst section of Newtown was Gershom Moore, in whose orchard a chance seedling produced the Newtown Pippin, Colonial America's most famous apple. The village of Newtown was established as the town seat for the Township in 1683.[1]

Two years before Queens's 1898 incorporation into the City of Greater New York, Newtown residents renamed their town "Elmhurst", meaning "a grove of elms", to disassociate themselves from Maspeth, Queens, and the smelly, polluted Newtown Creek. The name was chosen because elm trees (Ulmus americana) abounded in the area.[1][2]

Elmhurst developed into a fashionable district due to a housing development that was built by the Cord Meyer Development Company between 1896 and 1910, north of the Port Washington Branch railroad station. They expanded their holdings between 1905 and 1930, including Elmhurst Square, Elmhurst South, Elmhurst Heights, and New Elmhurst. Elmhurst also became home to the Grand Street LIRR station just west of the current Grand Avenue – Newtown subway station. The Grand Street LIRR station was served by the Main Line and the former Rockaway Beach Branch.[1][2]

Prior to World War II, Elmhurst was an almost exclusively Jewish and Italian neighborhood. Following the war, Elmhurst evolved into what has been considered one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York City.[3] By the 1980s, there were persons from 112 nations in residence in the neighborhood, which has continued to further diversify since then.[1] Among the largest ethnic groups that have settled in the area are Latinos and Chinese Americans.[4]

For many years, the Elmhurst gas tanks, a pair of large natural gas storage structures built in 1910 and 1921 on 57th Avenue between 74th and 80th Streets, were very well known. Because the Long Island Expressway frequently became congested in that area, "backup at the Elmhurst Gas Tanks" became a familiar phrase in radio traffic reporting. The gas holders were removed in 2001.[5][6] The site opened as the Elmhurst Park in 2011.

Elmhurst's population, which is mainly working-class, has seen a sharp increase since 1980, and Elmhurst has 110,000 residents as of 2015, compared to 72,000 in 1980. There has been ample development since the early 2000s, with multiple new apartment buildings completed or under construction since then.[4]


Elmhurst's Chinatown (唐人街, 艾浒) on Broadway is a satellite of the Flushing Chinatown.

Elmhurst's rapidly growing Chinatown (艾浒 唐人街)[7] is the second in Queens, in addition to Flushing's Chinatown. Previously a small area with Chinese shops on Broadway between 81st Street and Cornish Avenue, this newly evolved second Chinatown in Queens has now expanded to 45th Avenue and Whitney Avenue and is developing as a satellite of the Flushing Chinatown. It is Queens's second-biggest Chinese enclave, behind Flushing.[4]

In Chinese translation, Elmhurst is named 艾浒 (Àihǔ in Standard Chinese). There are also many other Southeast Asian businesses and shops in the area, including Malaysian Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. Hong Kong Supermarket and New York Supermarket serve as the largest Chinese supermarkets selling different food varieties to this Elmhurst Chinatown.[8][9] So far, the Asia Bank serves as the only Chinese bank and the main financial resource business for this thriving Chinatown,[10] though HSBC, Chase, and other banks also are located in Elmhurst along Broadway. Like Flushing's Chinatown, it is also very highly populated by Mandarin speakers, although many also speak other varieties of Chinese.

An annexation of the Elmhurst Chinatown is the neighborhood of Corona, Queens.[11]


The Elks Lodge Local 878 building, on Queens Boulevard, is now the New Life Fellowship Church.

Places of worship include:

  • Bangladesh Hindu Mandir (94-39 44th Avenue)
  • Christian Testimony Church (87-11 Whitney Avenue).[12] Originally a synagogue—as evidenced by the former presence of the word Mizpah (watchtower) above the front door—the building is now a Christian church with a congregation composed mainly of Chinese people, with services in both English and Mandarin Chinese.[13]
  • Elmhurst Baptist Church (87-37 Whitney Avenue), founded in 1900, built in 1902. The congregation is made up mainly of Burmese and Indonesian speakers.[13] The church building is constructed of stone.[12]
  • Elmhurst Islamic Center (EIC) (87-07 55th Avenue)
  • Elmhurst Muslim Center (42-12 79th Street)
  • First Presbyterian Church of Newtown (Queens Boulevard and 54th Avenue) built in 1893, congregation was established in 1652
  • Geeta Temple Asharam (92-09 Corona Avenue)
  • Jain Center of America(43-22 Ithaca Street), founded in 1973[13]
  • New Life Fellowship Church (82-10 Queens Boulevard) is housed in the building of the Elks Lodge Local 878, which opened in 1924 at Queens Boulevard and Simonson Street and was once was the largest such lodge in the Eastern United States, with 60 inn rooms, bowling alleys, billiards, a ladies' lounge, and a 50 feet (15 m) bar. The Ballinger Company designed the building, which is made of granite, limestone, and brick. A statue of an elk is located near the Queens Boulevard entrance. Elks Lodge 878 still owns the building, which is a New York City Designated Landmark.[12]
    Later, the building became an English as a Second Language) program for immigrants.[12]
  • The Reformed Church of Newtown (85-15 Broadway), founded in 1731. The original church was built in 1733, with a replacement built in 1831, expanded in 1851, and fitted with stained glass by 1874. The church has a small, historic graveyard on the side facing Corona Avenue.[12]
  • The Rock Church at Elmwood Theatre (57-02 Hoffman Drive), at 57th Avenue and Hoffman Drive, is housed in the former Loews Elmwood Theater.[12] The theater, built in 1928, was formerly one of the largest theaters in the city and could seat 2,900 people. Its name was a portmanteau word, composed of the names "Elmhurst" and "Woodhaven", the latter alluding to nearby Woodhaven Boulevard.[12] One of the city's last community theaters, it was considered for demolition in 1968 and in 1999; both times, the site was planned as an adjunct for the nearby, now-closed, St. John's Queens Hospital.[14] The theater closed in 2002 and was purchased by the Rock Church, but was temporarily used as a music venue[15] before the church opened in 2006. The theater has a water tower and a huge sign saying "Elmwood" on the roof.[14][16]
  • Satya Narayan Mandir (75-15 Woodside Avenue)
  • St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church (52-29 83rd Street), founded in 1832
  • St. Bartholomew’s Church (43-22 Ithaca Street), founded in 1906, present structure built in 1930. It is named after Manhattan's St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church. The original church, built in 1910, is at Whitney and 43rd Avenues.[13]
  • clock tower atop the original building was destroyed in a 1882 storm.[12] The original church building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.[12][17]


Elmhurst has two urban shopping malls:[12] Queens Center[18] and the smaller Queens Place.[19]

The 150-store Queens Center, bounded by Queens Boulevard, 57th and 59th Avenues, and 90th and 94th Streets, opened on September 12, 1973, and was renovated and expanded across 92nd Street in 2002–4. It was built on land previously occupied by a 24-ride children's amusement park named Fairyland, which opened in 1949 and closed in 1968.[20] The site was also formerly a supermarket and automobile parking.

The smaller Queens Place, bounded by Queens Boulevard and by Justice, 55th, and 56th Avenues, is designed in a cylindrical shape and opened in 1965. Originally planned as a traditional rectangular construction designed to replace several blocks of residences, the mall had to be redesigned because the owner of the corner house at 55th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, Mary Sendek, refused to sell what had been her childhood home. The site of the corner home was demolished after Sendek died, and that site is now a small collection of stores.[12]

Streets and street names

57th Avenue was known as the Flushing and Newtown Turnpike.[12] Built in 1801, it connected with present-day Flushing Avenue in Maspeth, and extended all the way to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.[21]

The Elks Lodge's name is shared by a local street, Elks Road, a short road in a cluster of 2- and 3-story orange and yellow brick buildings located between Grand Avenue, 79th Street, and Calamus Avenue, that were built in 1930 by Louis Allmendinger for the Matthews Company.[22]

Hoffman Drive is a remnant of the wide Hoffman Boulevard. Hoffman Boulevard was straightened and renamed Queens Boulevard, but a short slip road, Hoffman Drive, leads from 57th Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard.[12]

Horace Harding Expressway and Long Island Expressway was once a turnpike called Nassau Boulevard, which went from Elmhurst to Flushing, Bayside, and Little Neck. It was renamed for Horace J. Harding (1863–1929), a finance magnate who directed the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and the New York Municipal Railways System; Harding encouraged city planner Robert Moses's system of parkways on New York, and after Harding died, the boulevard—now the service road of Interstate 495—was renamed after him.[23]

Horse Brook Island is a traffic island at the intersection of 90th Street, Justice Avenue, and 56th Avenue. The traffic island is reminiscent of the former Horsebrook Creek, a creek that flowed to the present-day intersection of Kneeland Avenue and Codwise Place.[12] The space was renovated from 1986–94.[2]

Justice Avenue, an Elmhurst road that has existed since the American colonial period, follows an unusual curved path through Elmhurst due to a now-defunct railroad line immediately to the south.[12]

Queens Boulevard, a wide at-grade highway that stretches from Long Island City to Jamaica, was formerly composed of two small dirt roads: Old Jamaica Road and Hoffman Boulevard. In the 1910s, it was paved and widened to 12 lanes. It is sometimes called the "Boulevard of Death" because of the high fatality rate on Queens Boulevard.[12]

The majority of Whitney Avenue, which stretches from 83rd Street in the west to Roosevelt Avenue and 93rd Street to the northeast, is on a tilted street grid, developed in the early 20th century. The street grid consists of Broadway; Aske, Benham, Case, Denman, Elbertson, Forley, Gleane, Hampton, Ithaca, Judge, Ketcham, Layton, Macnish Streets; Ketcham Place; and Baxter, Pettit, Britton, Vietor, Elmhurst, Whitney, and Lamont Avenues. Whitney Avenue also has the most religious institutions of any street in Elmhurst.[13]

Woodhaven Boulevard was known as Trotting Course Lane because it was named when horses were the main mode of transport. Although it extends to Cross Bay Boulevard in the Rockaways, two small parts of the original lane still exist in Forest Hills.[24]


Elmhurst Park is on 57th Avenue west of 80th Street. There is a children's playground with slides, swings, and exercise machines, as well as walking paths and a lawn atop a hill. The land for the park was formerly occupied by gas tanks. The park itself was opened in 2011.[25]

Moore Homestead Park is located between Broadway and 45th Avenue. There is a children's playground with slides and swings and there are different sections where people can play basketball, handball, and chess. The park is named after a nearby homestead owned by Clement Clarke Moore, whose ancestor John Moore helped negotiate Newtown's land area with the Native American population there. The park, originally acquired by the Independent Subway System and then turned into a playground, was renovated in the 1990s.[26]

Frank D. O'Connor Playground is located on Broadway between Woodside Avenue and 78th Street. There is also a children playground, basketball and handball area. Opened in 1937 and renovated in 1996, the park is named after former state senator Frank D. O'Connor.[27]

Veterans Grove is located on 43rd Avenue by Judge and Ketcham Streets. It is a small park mainly for younger children. The park's plaque states that it was dedicated "to the memory of those soldiers from Elmhurst who lost their lives serving in World War I." The park land was acquired in 1928, and the park was originally called the Elmhurst Memorial Park. It was renovated in 1994–6.[28]



The former Elmhurst Queens Library branch

An Elmhurst Queens Library branch on Broadway, demolished in 2012, is being replaced with a new library, which will open by 2015.[29]


Elmhurst is part of New York City's Department of Education Region 4. Schools in Elmhurst include:

  • P.S. 7 - Louis F. Simeone[30]
  • P.S. 13 - Clement C Moore[31]
  • P.S. 89 - Elmhurst[32]
  • P.S. 102 - Bayview[33]
  • P.S. 877 - 51st Avenue Academy[34]
  • St. Adalbert School[35]
  • St. Bartholomew School[36]
  • I.S. 5 - The Walter Crowley Intermediate School[37]
  • Newtown High School, at Corona Avenue and 90th Street, is located in a Baroque, C. B. J. Snyder-designed building that was built in 1897.[12][38]
  • Cathedral Preparatory Seminary
  • The Elmhurst Educational Complex is a renovated spice factory housing multiple educationally robust schools. Opened in 2008, it contains three high schools, an elementary school, and an early childhood center.[39]
  • Central Queens Academy Charter School[40]


New York City Subway stations include Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, Grand Avenue – Newtown, and Elmhurst Avenue, all served by the E M R trains of the IND Queens Boulevard Line. In addition, the IRT Flushing Line, served by the 7 <7> trains, runs along Roosevelt Avenue, the north border of Elmhurst, with stations at 74th Street – Broadway, 82nd Street – Jackson Heights and 90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue.[41]

Buses include the Q11, Q21, Q29, Q38, Q52, Q53, Q58, Q59, Q60, Q72, Q88.[42]

Elmhurst is bounded by the Long Island Expressway to the south and by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the west. Queens Boulevard, Woodhaven Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, and Broadway are major roads in the community. Elmhurst is connected to Manhattan and Jamaica by Queens Boulevard and is connected to John F. Kennedy International Airport by Woodhaven Boulevard and to LaGuardia Airport by Junction Boulevard.[43]

Notable residents

Elmhurst has also produced a number of NBA basketball players, including Smush Parker. The Elks have since moved to a smaller hall on the same block, which continues to be rented out for events, including professional wrestling.

In popular culture

McDowell's, the fictional restaurant depicted in the 1988 film Coming to America, is located in Elmhurst. For the week-long shot, the filmmakers cosmetically altered an existing Wendy's restaurant, which was closed in May 2013 and was razed by December 2013 to make way for condominiums.[50] Images of surrounding streets were also used in the movie.[51]

The CBS show Blue Bloods also started filming for its third season on the residential streets of Ketcham Street, Pettit Avenue, Layton Street, and Baxter Avenue in Elmhurst on September 24, 2012.

Part of the Revenge of the Green Dragons was filmed in Elmhurst with cameo from locals.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Marques, Amanda (August 4, 1985). "If You're Thinking of Living in: Elmhurst".  
  2. ^ a b c "Libra Triangle Horsebrook Island".  
  3. ^ Kleinman, Dena (October 6, 1982). "A Hospital Where Ethnic Change is Constant". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012. Dr. Stanley Bleich had been an intern less than a month at the municipal hospital in Elmhurst, Queens,... one of the city's 16 municipal hospitals, [which] is in what immigration officials have described as the city's most ethnically diverse neighborhood. 
  4. ^ a b c Kerry Murtha (February 9, 2015). "Housing gains in Elmhurst, Queens, leave many cold". Crain's New York. Retrieved June 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. " Memory-Filled Tanks; Queens Loses 2 Roadside Landmarks", The New York Times, September 20, 1993. Accessed March 24, 2008. "The Elmhurst tanks — those 200-foot monoliths that stood sentinel to the changing landscape of Queens and as harbingers of hair-tearing delay on the highway to Manhattan — are down, deflated forever, their skeletal remains waiting to be dismantled."
  6. ^ Elmhurst gas tanks, Queens Tribune. Accessed June 4, 2007. "But when the beloved landmarks weren’t really doing the business anymore they came down in 1996 and by 2001 there was almost no trace of the tanks that once supplied business and homes across the city."
  7. ^ "A Growing Chinatown in Elmhurst". Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ Alperson, Myra (2003). Nosh New York: The Food Lover's Guide to New York City's Most Delicious Neighborhoods. Macmillan. 
  9. ^ Greenhouse, Steven (December 9, 2008). "Supermarket to Pay Back Wages and Overtime". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Elmhurst Branch". 
  11. ^ Lawrence A. McGlinn, Department of Geography SUNY-New Paltz. "Beyond Chinatown: Dual Immigration and the Chinese Population of Metropolitan New York City, 2000, Page 4" (PDF). Middle States Geographer, 2002, 35: 110–119, Journal of the Middle States Division of the Association of American Geographers. Retrieved March 19, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Walsh, Kevin (June 2002). "ELMHURST, Queens". Forgotten NY. Retrieved June 8, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Walsh, Kevin (March 2014). "WHITNEY AVENUE HOLINESS, Elmhurst". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Nicholas Hirshon (January 19, 2006). "A BORN-AGAIN THEATER FAMED ELMWOOD SITE CONVERTED TO PRAYER CENTER". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  15. ^ Keach Hagey (July 17, 2003). "The Rock Of All-Ages—Church Turns Elmwood Theatre Into Music Venue". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  16. ^ Cinema Treasures Elmwood Theatre
  17. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  18. ^ John Roleke. "Queens Center Mall". Travel. 
  19. ^ "Forest City - Properties - Shop - Urban Retail - Queens Place". 
  20. ^
    • Coangelo, Lisa L. (February 18, 2015). "Bringing the magic of Queens long-gone amusement parks back to life". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
    • "Fairyland Park, Elmhurst". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
    • Lorraine Sciulli (November 27, 2009). "Return to Fairyland". Juniper Park Civic Association. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  21. ^ Riker, James (1852). The Annals of Newtown, in Queens County, New-York. 
  22. ^ Walsh, Kevin (April 2002). "MASPETH, Queens". Forgotten NY. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  23. ^ Walsh, Kevin (November 2013). "NYC STREETS FEATURING FULL NAMES". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  24. ^
    • Walsh, Kevin (May 1999). "WOODHAVEN TROTTING COURSE". Forgotten NY. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
    • Walsh, Kevin (November 2013). "TROTTING COURSE LANE, Forest Hills". Forgotten NY. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Elmhurst Park : NYC Parks". 2011-05-24. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Moore Homestead Playground Highlights : NYC Parks". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  27. ^ "Frank D. O'Connor Playground Highlights : NYC Parks". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  28. ^ "Veterans Grove Highlights : NYC Parks". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  29. ^ "New Elmhurst library set to open next year". Queens Chronicle. September 25, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  30. ^ "PS 7". January 9, 2015. 
  31. ^ "PS 13". January 9, 2015. 
  32. ^ "PS 89". January 12, 2015. 
  33. ^ "PS 102". January 12, 2015. 
  34. ^ "51st Avenue Academy". 
  35. ^ "Saint Adalbert School". 
  36. ^ "Home". 
  37. ^ "IS 5". April 30, 2015. 
  38. ^ "". 
  39. ^ Richard Gentilviso (June 11, 2008). "School Dist. 24 To Get 5 New Schools". Queens Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Central Queens Academy Charter School (CQA)". 
  41. ^ "Subway Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  42. ^ Queens Bus Map, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  43. ^  
  44. ^ Century, Douglas (August 20, 2006). "A Night Out with Julissa Bermudez". Retrieved January 6, 2008. 
  45. ^ Berkow, Ira. "BASEBALL; Amid Some Uncertainty, The Expos Play to Win", The New York Times, June 18, 2002. Accessed October 22, 2007. "Minaya, born in the Dominican Republic but raised since age 8 in Elmhurst, Queens, was the assistant general manager with the Mets when Selig called last winter and offered him the job with the Expos."
  46. ^ Tony Pastor, father of vaudeville by Armond Fields -2007
  47. ^ The New York Times - August 27, 1908
  48. ^ Severo, Richard. "Carroll O'Connor, Embodiment of Social Tumult as Archie Bunker, Dies at 76", The New York Times, June 22, 2001. Accessed November 18, 2007. "The O'Connors lived well, at first in the Bronx, later in a larger apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, and finally in a nice single-family home in Forest Hills, Queens, then an enclave for people of means."
  49. ^ Talbot, Margaret."Profiles, Supreme Confidence", The New Yorker, March 28, 2005, p. 40. Accessed October 22, 2007. "Tells about Scalia’s childhood in Trenton, New Jersey and Elmhurst Queens. His father, Eugene, was a professor at Brooklyn College and a believer in the principles of the New Criticism."
  50. ^ "Beloved Coming To America Restaurant McDowell's Will Soon Be Demolished".  
  51. ^ Hirshon, Nicholas (June 14, 2013). "Queens Boulevard Loses a Movie Icon, Disguised as a Fast Food Joint". Wall Street Journal Blog. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 

Further reading

  • AIA Guide to New York City, 3rd Edition (1988) ISBN 0-15-104040-0 (Hardcover); ISBN 0-15-603600-2 (Paperback)
  • Pictures of Elmhurst with descriptions (In lower right options, choose "Always show title and description" for descriptive titles to appear)
  • Old Elmhurst Blog, A blog discussing the history of Elmhurst

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