East Elmhurst, Queens
East Elmhurst is a culturally diverse lower middle class area in the northwest section of the New York City borough of Queens. It is located north of Jackson Heights and Corona. The area includes La Guardia Airport and is bounded on the east and north by Flushing Bay. Residents are mostly moderate-income families, but there are also low-income areas. It includes Trainsmeadow, which is its western section. The neighborhood is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 115th Precinct; the airport is patrolled by the Port Authority Police Department. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 3. The zip codes of East Elmhurst are 11369 and 11370. East Elmhurst and its southern neighbor Corona are often referred to jointly as “Corona/East Elmhurst”.
The Corona East Elmhurst News, first published in 1959 by Kenneth and Corien Drew, was located on Astoria Boulevard. It ultimately became the Queens Voice and was published for 1959-2002. The tabloid style newspaper was a weekly publication which included many notable columnists that highlighted the social and political activities of the African American communities of Corona and East Elmhurst and the Borough of Queens.
In 2010, the population was 23,150; the White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian demographics were 18.0%, 42.0%, 30.0%, and 10.0%, respectively; and the median income was $32,182. In recent years, the population has become increasingly Latino, with growing Dominican and Mexican populations. Although this area still has a sizable African-American and Caribbean-American population, many of the former members of the Black community have died, retired or relocated. In the East Elmhurst 11369 and 11370 ZIP code, almost 30 percent of the 36,000 residents were born abroad.
New York City Department of Education operates public schools in the area. P.S. 127 Aerospace Science Magnet School, an elementary school for grades PK-8, and I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong Middle School for grades 5-8 are in the neighborhood. A small section of the neighborhood is zoned for separate district in Whitestone, Queens causing some children to attend P.S. 21 for elementary and J.H.S 185 for middle school.
The Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center "conceived and designed by the residents of the Corona-East Elmhurst community" houses one of the most extensive collections of African American art and literature. A component of the Queens Library system, the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center is located in Corona on Northern Boulevard.
The Black Heritage Reference Center, a part of the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, serves Queens with a comprehensive reference and circulating collection, totaling approximately 30,000 volumes of materials written about and related to Black culture. Emphasis is given to those geographic areas where African-Americans have lived in significant numbers, including West Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. 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. The curator is responsible for the coordination, supervision, and care of the special collection for its continued development and on-going maintenance. Cultural arts programs are scheduled through the Black Heritage Reference Center. Meeting space is available to community organizations by application. Special features of the Black Heritage Center include:
- The Schomburg Clipping 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 Africans and African-Americans in the Diaspora. The focus of the collection is on criticisms of Black writers, with special emphasis on the works of writer and poet Langston Hughes.
- 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; and titles such as "Sankofa," and the "Million Man March." Through the Black Heritage Reference Center literature readings, workshops and lectures are scheduled, as well as cultural arts programming in fine art exhibitions, film festivals, dance, musical, and dramatic presentations/ performances.
During the ‘50s and '60s the area was home to legendary African American musicians, civil rights leaders, professionals, and athletes including Malcolm X, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Heath, Frankie Lymon, Charlie Shavers, Ella Fitzgerald, and Willie Mays. During the late '60s and early '70s. numerous New York Mets such as Ed Charles and Tommie Agee called East Elmhurst home. East Elmhurst is the childhood home of US Attorney General Eric Holder and is home to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. Jazz vocalist Norman Mapp also made East Elmhurst his home.
Other notable current and former residents include:
- Langston Hughes
- Harry Belafonte
- Clive Bradley
- Guy R. Brewer
- Charles "Honi" Coles
- Jackie Robinson
- Steve Henderson
- P. J. Hill, Jr.
- Christopher "Kid" Reid
- Christopher "Play" Martin
- Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor
- Ray Felix
- Keith David
- NYPD 115th Pct
- Queens Community Boards, New York City. Accessed September 3, 2007.
- U.S. Census, Record Information Services
- New York Times "They Were Famous, Admired and (Finally) Welcome"