Elmhurst (formerly Newtown) is a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City. 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.
The village, originally named Middleburgh, was established in 1652 by English Puritans, approximately 7 miles from New Amsterdam. When the British took over New Netherland in 1664, they renamed it New Town, which was eventually simplified to Newtown. It remained a rural community until the late 1890s, when it was renamed Elmhurst and became part of the City of Greater New York. Elmhurst became heavily developed with residential and commercial structures in the early 20th century, and many immigrants started moving in during the latter part of the century.
Elmhurst is located in Queens Community District 4 and its ZIP Code is 11373. It is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 110th Precinct. Politically, Elmhurst is represented by the New York City Council's 25th District and small parts of the 21st, 24th, and 29th Districts.
17th and 18th centuries
The village was founded in 1652 in the Dutch colony of New Netherland () by English Puritans from Connecticut and Massachusetts. They named it ('Middleburgh') after the capital of the Dutch province of Zeeland, which had been a refuge of Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England. The village was located approximately 7 miles from the growing city of New Amsterdam () and just east of the settlement at Maspat (now called Maspeth), which had been abandoned following threats and attacks by local Lenape Native Americans. When the British took over New Netherland in 1664, they renamed Middleburgh as (New Town) to maintain a connection to its Dutch heritage. This was eventually simplified to Newtown. In a deed dated July 9, 1666, the settlers took title to the lands of Newtown from the Native American tribes.
A town building, near what is now Broadway and Dongan Street, was erected to serve as both a community and religious building. Use of this building was shared by the different religious denominations in Middleburgh: the Church of England, the Dutch Reformed Church, the Presbyterians, and the Quakers. In 1669, the town planned a new church for all of these denominations, on a plot of land donated by Ralph Hunt near Grand Avenue and Queens Boulevard. According to the town records, the new building was to cost forty pounds, half in corn and half in cattle. The village of Newtown was established as the town seat for the township in 1683, when Queens County was reorganized as a "one county, five towns" model. The Town of Newtown, which had a town hall, jail, tax office, and town clerk's office, was the center of a municipality that comprised the villages that were located north of present-day Forest Park and west of Flushing Meadows.
By 1700, the town had a population of 1,000, including 405 youths under the age of sixteen, 434 adults, and 161 slaves. Among the English settlers in the present Elmhurst section of Newtown was Gershom Moore, who lived at what is now the intersection of Broadway, 45th Avenue, and Elmhurst Avenue. A chance seedling on his farm eventually produced the Newtown Pippin, Colonial America's most famous apple. The St. James Church was founded in 1704, followed by the Reformed Church of Newtown in 1731. The Colonel Bernardus Bloom Farmhouse at 90-11 56th Avenue, which existed from the 17th century to 2015, was one of the oldest surviving farmhouses in Newtown through the 21st century.
Newtown was also the center of a population of free blacks and slaves by the early 19th century. With the program of gradual abolition and the manumission of some slaves by masters following the American Revolution, the free population increased. In 1828, a year after slavery was finally abolished in the state, landowner James Hunter and his wife deeded two acres to the community for a church and parsonage. They had already been using land at Corona Avenue and 90th Street as a burial ground since about 1818. This was associated with the United African Society of Newtown, by 1906 known as St. Mark's A.M.E. Church. By 1886 more than 300 burials had been made in the cemetery. The church moved further east and gradually the burial ground was forgotten until remains were discovered of a woman in an iron coffin in 2011 during development. The church is hoping to buy the land for preservation.
More concentrated residential development in the area was spurred by the completion of a horsecar line, the Grand Street Line, which reached New Town in 1854. The Long Island Rail Road's Main Line was built through Newtown in 1876, attracting more residents to the neighborhood.
Renaming and incorporation into city
Cord Meyer bought land at Broadway and Whitney Avenue in 1896. He proposed that the town be renamed "Elmhurst", meaning "a grove of elms"; in 1897, one year before Queens County was incorporated in the Greater City of New York, the town was renamed. The renaming was done partially to disassociate the town from nearby Maspeth and the smelly, polluted Newtown Creek, and partially to celebrate the elm trees (Ulmus americana) that abounded in the area.
Elmhurst developed as a fashionable district due to a housing development built by the Cord Meyer Development Company between 1896 and 1910, north of the Port Washington Branch railroad station. Cord Meyer expanded its holdings between 1905 and 1930, including Elmhurst Square, Elmhurst South, Elmhurst Heights, and New Elmhurst. Elmhurst also was the site of 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. In the 1930s, the Independent Subway System's Queens Boulevard line was built through the neighborhood, spurring economic development but also destroying many old buildings.
Prior to World War II, Elmhurst had become an almost exclusively Jewish and Italian neighborhood, made up of early 20th century immigrants and their descendants. Following the war, Elmhurst evolved into what has been considered one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York City, as immigrants arrived from new areas. By the 1980s, there were persons from 112 nations in residence in the neighborhood, which has continued to diversify since then. Among the most numerous ethnic groups that have settled in the area are Latinos and Chinese Americans.
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 well-known landmarks, standing high. 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 storage facilities were removed in 2001. The site was redeveloped and opened as Elmhurst Park in 2011.
Elmhurst contains a variety of zoning districts, including manufacturing, commercial, residential, and mixed-use. Much of the neighborhood is composed of detached or multi-family houses, though there are also rowhouse districts, apartment buildings of up to six or seven stories, and large developments such as LeFrak City. Commercial overlays are located primarily along Queens Boulevard, Broadway, and Grand and Corona Avenues. Several tracts are also zoned for shopping centers, which are occupied by Elmhurst's malls. Light-manufacturing zones are located near the western end of the neighborhood, mainly between the LIRR's Port Washington Branch and 51st Avenue.
Some buildings in Elmhurst are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and/or are designated New York City Landmarks (NYCL):
The Elmhurst branch of the Jamaica Savings Bank was previously a New York City Landmark, but the designation was removed in 2005.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Elmhurst was 88,427, an increase of 455 (0.5%) from the 87,972 counted in 2000. Covering an area of , the neighborhood had a population density of .
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 6.6% (5,870) White, 1.3% (1,140) African American, 0.2% (133) Native American, 43.8% (38,699) Asian, 0.0% (28) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (338) from other races, and 1.6% (1,423) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 46.1% (40,796) of the population. Elmhurst's Latino population is 20.4% South American (9.8% Ecuadorean, 7.2% Colombian, 1.8% Peruvian, 0.4% Argentinean, 0.4% Bolivian, 0.2% Chilean, 0.2% Venezuelan), 11.6% Mexican, 3.1% Dominican, 1.8% Puerto Rican, 1.5% Central American (0.5% Salvadoran, 0.4% Guatemalan, 0.3% Honduran), and 0.7% Cuban.
The entirety of Community Board 4, which comprises Elmhurst and Corona, had 135,972 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.4 years. This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 17% are between the ages of 0 and 17, 39% between 25 and 44, and 24% between 45 and 64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 8% and 12% respectively.
As of 2017, the median household income in Community Board 4 was $51,992. In 2018, an estimated 27% of Elmhurst and Corona residents lived in poverty, compared to 19% in all of Queens and 20% in all of New York City. One in fourteen residents (7%) were unemployed, compared to 8% in Queens and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 62% in Elmhurst and Corona, higher than the boroughwide and citywide rates of 53% and 51% respectively.
As of the 2020 census data from New York City Department of City Planning, Elmhurst is primarily populated by 55,800 Asian residents and 42,600 Hispanic residents, however there were between 5,000 to 9,999 White residents and less than 5000 Black residents.
Elmhurst's rapidly growing Chinatown (艾浒 唐人街) is the second largest in Queens, the other Chinatown being located in Flushing. 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 the second largest Chinese enclave in Queens, behind Flushing.
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 the Elmhurst Chinatown. The Asia Bank serves as the only Chinese bank and the main financial resource business for the growing enclave, though USA 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.
Since the 2000s, Elmhurst Chinatown has expanded to the neighborhood of Corona, Queens.
Police and crime
Elmhurst and Corona are patrolled by the 110th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 94-41 43rd Avenue. The 110th Precinct ranked 15th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. , with a non-fatal assault rate of 34 per 100,000 people, Corona and Elmhurst's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 227 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.
The 110th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 83.2% between 1990 and 2020. The precinct reported 4 murders, 29 rapes, 270 robberies, 359 felony assaults, 196 burglaries, 485 grand larcenies, and 138 grand larcenies auto in 2020.
Elmhurst is served by two New York City Fire Department (FDNY) fire stations:
FDNY EMS Station 46 is located on the grounds of Elmhurst Hospital Center.
, preterm births are less common in Elmhurst and Corona than in other places citywide, but births to teenage mothers are more common. In Elmhurst and Corona, there were 83 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 25.8 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide). Elmhurst and Corona have a high population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 25%, which is higher than the citywide rate of 12%.
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Elmhurst and Corona is , slightly higher than the city average. Fifteen percent of Elmhurst and Corona residents are smokers, which is equal to the city average of 14% of residents being smokers. In Elmhurst and Corona, 20% of residents are obese, 9% are diabetic, and 23% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 20%, 14%, and 24% respectively. In addition, 24% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.
Eighty-eight percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is about the same as the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 68% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," lower than the city's average of 78%. For every supermarket in Elmhurst and Corona, there are 16 bodegas.
The Elmhurst Hospital Center is located in Elmhurst.
In March 2020, Elmhurst Hospital became the "center of the center" of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York state as the state itself experienced the most cases in COVID-19 pandemic. The neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights were most affected by the pandemic in New York City. , these communities, with a cumulative 303,494 residents, had recorded 12,954 COVID-19 cases and 1,178 deaths.
Post office and ZIP Code
Elmhurst is covered by ZIP Code 11373. The United States Post Office operates two post offices in Elmhurst: the Elmhurst A Station at 80-27 Broadway and the Elmhurst Station at 59-01 Junction Boulevard.
Places of worship include:
Elmhurst has two urban shopping malls: Queens Center and the smaller Queens Place Mall.
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. With a gross leasable area of , the mall has had retail sales per square foot nearly triple the national average. 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. 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.
Streets and street names
57th Avenue was known as the Flushing and Newtown Turnpike. Built in 1801, it connected with present-day Flushing Avenue in Maspeth, and extended all the way to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
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.
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.
Horace Harding 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 the Long Island Expressway—was renamed after him.
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 Horse Brook, a creek that flowed to the Flushing River from the present-day intersection of Kneeland Avenue and Codwise Place. The space was renovated from 1986 to 1994.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. It includes the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was finished in 2019.
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, and again in the 2020s.
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.
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.
Horsebrook Island is a small triangular green space at the junction of 56th Avenue, Justice Avenue and 90th Street that was named after a stream that once ran through the Newtown settlement. The creek was buried in the first three decades of the twentieth century.
Libra Triangle is a small triangular green space at the junction of Justice Avenue and Broadway.
Newtown Playground is located on 92nd Street and 56th Avenue. There are two children's playgrounds, chess tables, swings, sprinklers, and a small lawn. The park is named after the original name of Elmhurst given by the English. It is one block away from Queens Center Mall and Newtown High School's athletic field.
Elmhurst and Corona generally have a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city . While 28% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 30% have less than a high school education and 42% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 39% of Queens residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher. The percentage of Elmhurst and Corona students excelling in math rose from 36% in 2000 to 66% in 2011, and reading achievement rose from 42% to 49% during the same time period.
Elmhurst and Corona's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is less than the rest of New York City. In Elmhurst and Corona, 11% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, lower than the citywide average of 20%. Additionally, 81% of high school students in Elmhurst and Corona graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.
Elmhurst contains the following schools:
The Queens Public Library's Elmhurst branch is located at 86-01 Broadway. The original Elmhurst branch, a Carnegie library constructed in 1906, was closed in 2011 and demolished in 2012 for a complete rebuild that was designed to double the building's original size. Planned to be completed in two years, the reconstruction of the library took more than twice the original expected time and exceeded its $27.8 million budget. The new four-story, building, which included elements of the original structure, was opened to the public in December 2016 at a cost of $32 million.
New York City Subway stations include Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard, Grand Avenue–Newtown, and Elmhurst Avenue, all served by the of the IND Queens Boulevard Line. In addition, the IRT Flushing Line, served by the , runs along Roosevelt Avenue, the north border of Elmhurst, with stations at 74th Street–Broadway, 82nd Street–Jackson Heights, and 90th Street–Elmhurst Avenue.
Local buses include the . Express buses going to and from Manhattan during weekday rush hours include the .
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.
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. Images of surrounding streets were also used in the movie.
The CBS show Blue Bloods filmed for its third season on the residential streets of Elmhurst in 2012.
Part of the Revenge of the Green Dragons was filmed in Elmhurst with cameos from locals.
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Elmhurst, NY, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.