Corona was a late 19th-century residential development in the northeastern corner of the old Town of Newtown. Real estatespeculators from New York started the community in 1854, the same year that the New York and Flushing Railroad began service to the area largely to serve a newly opened race course. It was at the Fashion Race Course in 1858 that the first games of baseball to charge admission took place. The games, which took place between the all stars of Brooklyn and the All Stars of New York (Manhattan), are commonly believed to be the first all star baseball games and in essence the birthplace of professional baseball. A trophy baseball from this tournament recently sold for nearly half a million US dollars.
The name Corona allegedly derives from the crown used as an emblem by the Crown Building Company, which developed the area; the Italian immigrants who moved into the new housing stock referred to the neighborhood by the Italian or Spanish word for "crown", or "corona".
In the last half of the 20th century, Corona saw dramatic ethnic successions. In the 1950s, what was predominantly an Italian American and African American neighborhood began to give way to an influx of Dominicans. In the late 1990s, Corona saw a new wave of immigrants from Latin America. The area north of Roosevelt Avenue contained the heart of the historic African American community. The intersection of 108th Street and Corona Avenue is the historic center of the Italian American community, sometimes referred to as Corona Heights.
Corona has several private schools including School of the Transfiguration. Public schools include the High School for Arts and Business and P.S. 92. There are many churches representing diverse denominations. Antioch Baptist Church at 103rd Street and Northern Boulevard is a prominent African American congregation dating to 1936 with a membership of 700. Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church at 104th Street and 37th Avenue was built in 1899 largely out of red brick with a nearby convent of the same period. Today it conducts most of its masses in Spanish and attracts large weekend crowds.
Dorie Miller Residential Cooperative, built in 1952, comprises six buildings, containing 300 apartments, with 1,300 rooms in total. The cooperative is named after Doris "Dorie" Miller, a U.S. Naval hero at Pearl Harbor and the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross. Among its original residents were jazz greats Nat Adderley & Jimmy Heath; Kenneth and Corien Drew, publishers of Queens' first African-American newspaper, The Corona East Elmhurst News, Thelma E. Harris founder of Aburi Press and prominent Queens Judge Henry A, Slaughter. Corona was also the childhood home of Marie Maynard Daly. A biochemist, Daly was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Daly studied the effects of cholesterol on the mechanics of the heart, the effects of sugars and other nutrients on the health of arteries, and the breakdown of the circulatory system as a result of advanced age or hypertension; this scientist subsequently studied how proteins are produced and organized in the cell and the composition and metabolism of components of the cell nucleus.
During the second half of the 1940s, 1950s and '60s Corona and its neighbor, East Elmhurst, was home to legendary African American musicians, civil rights leaders and athletes including Malcolm X aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Dr. Ophelia Devore, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Shavers, Ella Fitzgerald, jazz vocalist, composer and recording artist Norman Mapp, Nat Adderley, Frankie Lymon, famed fashion photographer Rupert Callender, Louis Armstrong, Godfrey Cambridge, and George "BBQ George" Williams, a former Harlem night club dancer turned restaurateur who owned the renowned BBQ George's Supper Club, frequented by the Black elite of Queens and New York politicos including civil rights activist Judge William "Bill" Booth, Publisher and NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Publisher Ken Drew as well as Mayor John Lindsay and Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. The Louis Armstrong House attracts visitors to the neighborhood and preserves the legacy of one of its most prominent historical residents.
The two communities were often referred to as one "Corona/East Elmhurst" and is the childhood home of the first African American US Attorney General, Eric Holder, to Rap (Hip Hop) artists Kid n' Play, Kwamé, Salt-n-Pepa, and Kool G Rap, and has been home to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, New York State Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, and Jimmy Heath, recognized as a prominent instrumentalist, composer, and arranger.
Corona/East Elmhurst also houses one of the most extensive collections of African American art and literature in the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, which serves Queens with reference and circulating collections, totaling approximately 30,000 volumes of materials written about or relating to black culture. The Black Heritage Reference Center of Queens County includes books, periodicals, theses and dissertations, VHS videos, cassettes and CDs, photographs, posters, prints, paintings, and sculpture. Cultural arts programs are scheduled through the Center. Meeting space is available to community organizations by application. Special features of the Center include:
The Schomburg Clippings File, an extensive microfiche collection of periodicals, magazine clippings, typescripts, broadsides, pamphlets, programs, book reviews, menus and ephemera of all kinds.
The UMI Thesis and Dissertation Collection—consists of more than 1,000 volumes of doctoral and master dissertations concerning the African and African-American diasporas.
The Adele Cohen Music Collection contains most of America's foremost black publications on microfilm. The papers cover 15 states beginning in 1893, and are updated each year with current issues.
The Black Heritage Video Collection documents the history and culture of Africans and African-Americans on tape, and in all subject areas including literature, biography, social science, fine arts.
According to the 2000 Census, the total population of this ZIP code was 98,609 and its racial/ethnic composition was 64.9% Hispanic/Latino persons of any race, 14.5% Black, 10.0% Asian, 7.9% White, and 2.7% Other. By the 2010 Census, the population had risen to 109,931, which was 73.8% Hispanic/Latino persons of any race, 9.5% Black, 9.9% Asian, 5.3% White, and 1.7% non-Hispanic persons of other races or two or more races. Corona is overwhelmingly Hispanic with all other demographics (Asian, black, and non-Hispanic white) being definitively below the borough average.
^ abcdeBerman, Eleanor. "The jazz of Queens encompasses music royalty", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 1, 2006. Accessed October 1, 2009. "Mr. Knight shows the brick building that was the studio of Dizzie Gillespie, where other Corona residents like Cannonball Adderley used to come and jam....When the trolley tour proceeds, Mr. Knight points out the nearby Dorie Miller Houses, a co-op apartment complex in Corona where Clark Terry and Cannonball and Nat Adderley lived and where saxophonist Jimmy Heath still resides."
^ abcHolloway, Lynette. "House of Satch Gets New Gig", The New York Times, February 10, 1996. Accessed October 1, 2009. "The Armstrongs embraced Corona, selected partly because of its proximity to other jazz musicians who lived nearby, including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald, said Phoebe Jacobs, executive vice president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation."
^Ciccone, Christopher; and Leigh, Wendy. "Life with My Sister Madonna", p. 56. Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN 1-4165-8762-4. Accessed October 1, 2009. "By the time we get to town, en route to Connecticut, Madonna is living in Corona, Queens, in a synagogue that has been converted into a studio, and playing drums in her boyfriend Dan Gilroy's band, the Breakfast Club."
^O' Keeffe, Michael. "Mets' Minaya a Ground Breaker", Daily News (New York), May 27, 1999. Accessed October 11, 2009. "Minaya was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in Corona, Queens, by parents who spoke only Spanish."