LeFrak City (originally spelled Lefrak and pronounced le-FRAK) is a 4,605-apartment development in the southernmost region of Corona and the easternmost part of Elmhurst, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. It is located between Junction Boulevard to the west, 57th Avenue to the north, 99th Street to the east, and the Long Island Expressway to the south.
The complex of twenty 17-story apartment towers covers 40 acres (16 ha) and houses over 14,000 people in 4,605 apartments. (Each building's topmost floor is signed as 18, and there are no thirteenth floors.) The buildings are all named after cities or countries around the world and are grouped in clusters of four based on their theme. This naming system came about during the 1964 New York World's Fair, which was located in nearby Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. The development is part of Queens Community Board 4.
The site includes sitting and play areas (including two artificial turf fields), sports courts, a swimming pool, a branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, a post office, two large office buildings, shops, and over 3,500 parking spaces. A $70 million renovation project, which ended in 2017, entailed installing solar panels atop the complex's roofs; updating the facades, boiler rooms, building interiors, swimming pool, and roofs; constructing new play areas; adding wheelchair access; and landscaping the grounds. LeFrak City also contains New York City's first robotic security guard. The Queens Center Mall and Rego Center are both two to three blocks away from the development, as is the Woodhaven Boulevard station on the New York City Subway's E, M, and R trains.
Named for its developer, the LeFrak Organization (founded by Samuel J. LeFrak), LeFrak City was built in 1962–1971 primarily for working- and middle-class families who were interested in modern facilities but could not afford or did not desire to live in Manhattan. The complex was built atop Horse Brook, a small stream that once wound through Elmhurst along the path of the LIE. The land on which LeFrak City is located was previously undeveloped marshland, and the megablocks of LeFrak City are a remnant of the lack of development on the site.
The fortunes of the buildings have been closely tied to housing and social trends in New York in general, and after a period of decline in the 1970s and rapid "white flight", the complex became home to a very diverse population. The development remains popular with 98% occupancy due to its reasonable rents, and large apartments.
Notable current and former residents of LeFrak City include:
- Akinyele (born 1970), rapper.
- Kenny Anderson (born 1970), former basketball player for the New Jersey Nets and other teams during his ten-year NBA career.
- Telfar Clemens (born 1985), Liberian-American fashion designer, DJ and founder of eponymous TELFAR, a genderless fashion label based in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
- Bryant Dunston (born 1986), professional basketball player in Europe and Asia.
- Ehinomen Ehikhamenor (born 1980), professional boxer who fights in the cruiserweight division.
- Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, worked with Phil Spector and composed many of the 'girl group' era's greatest hits, including "Chapel of Love", "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Leader of the Pack".
- Kaz Hirai (born 1960), Japanese businessman who was the President and CEO of Sony Corporation.
- Simon Nabatov (born 1959), pianist.
- Noreaga (born 1977, aka N.O.R.E.), rapper.
- Nneka Onuorah (born 1988), director and producer best known for her 2015 directorial debut, The Same Difference.
- Prodigy (1974-2017), rapper, actor and author.
- Kool G Rap (born 1968), rapper.
- Kenny Smith (born 1965), sports commentator and former professional basketball player for various teams during his ten-year NBA career.
- Jermaine Turner (born 1974), American-Irish former professional basketball player who spent most of his 17-year career playing in the Irish Super League.
- Mark White (born 1962), bass player for the Spin Doctors.
- Cooperative Village
- Co-op City, Bronx
- Mitchell Lama
- Marcus Garvey Village
- Parkchester, Bronx
- Parkfairfax, Virginia
- Parkmerced, San Francisco
- Park La Brea, Los Angeles
- Penn South
- Riverton Houses
- Rochdale Village, Queens
- Starrett City, Brooklyn
- Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village
- Weiss, Lois (2017-10-05). "The spotless (and hidden) Queens enclave you always pass — but have never heard of". New York Post. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
- Sheftell, Jason (September 13, 2012). "LeFrak City in Queens turns 50". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
- Queens Community Boards, New York City. Accessed September 3, 2007.
- Kadinsky, Sergey (2016). Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs. New York, NY: Countryman Press. pp. 122–131. ISBN 978-1-58157-566-8.
- Kadinsky, Sergey (January 20, 2016). "Horse Brook block facing development". Hidden Waters blog. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
- Williams, Laura. "Queens Rapper's Hit Is Bawdy By Nature Akinyele Contends The Raunchy Lyrics Are 'Funny,' But He's Still Catching Lots Of Static", New York Daily News, October 23, 1996. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Akinyele Adams, 25, grew up in the sprawling LeFrak City co-op complex in Rego Park."
- Cavanaugh, Jack. "Basketball; Point Guard Rivalry Moves to the Big East", The New York Times, January 6, 2001. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Some of those open-court moves were picked up from Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith, two other point guards from LeFrak City, the vast housing complex in Corona."
- Witt, Emily (5 March 2020). "Telfar Clemens's Mass Appeal". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
- Matin Dan. "Lincoln’S Boateng Has Split Decision", New York Post, July 11, 2003. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Bryant Dunston may be the nephew of a former All-Star, but he is still from Lefrak City, so it wasn’t a difficult choice when it came time to pick a sport."
- Clark, Kevin L. "Be Modern Man: Meet Celebrity Trainer Hino Ehikhamenor", Black Enterprise, July 6, 2015. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Getting his start at 17 once he moved to Lefrak City, Queens, New York, Hino settled into the boxing life and used it to explore American culture."
- Dwyer, Jim. "In World of Songwriting, at the Top of the Pack", The New York Times, August 28, 2009. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Ms. Greenwich teamed up with another writer, Jeff Barry; they married and lived in Lefrak City in Queens, composing one of their first songs as they rode the E train."
- Gray, Billy. "LeFrak City at 50", Commercial Observer, August 20, 2013. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Former residents include NBA standouts Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith, Sony Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai, and musical talents spanning the unfathomably wide gulf between gangsta rap (Prodigy and Noreaga aka N.O.R.E.) and the Spin Doctors, whose bass player Mark White lived in LeFrak City."
- Zwerin, Mike (10 November 1999). "A Jazz Man Comes of Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- Sheftell, Jason. "LeFrak City in Queens turns 50", New York Daily News, September 13, 2012. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Former Net point guard Kenny Anderson learned to dribble in the back where rapper Noreaga rhymed with friends. In 1962, when LeFrak City first opened, men in top hats greeted residents as they entered their section with buildings named after parts of the world — London, Paris, Mexico, Mandalay."
- Finn, Robin. "Dancer at Heart, and Executive in the Making", The New York Times, May 18, 2011. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Nneka Onuorah began taking tap-dancing lessons when she was 4, and by her teenage years, she was proficient in jazz, contemporary and hip-hop moves.... I still live in LeFrak City, except I just moved out of my mom’s apartment and into my own place."
- "unkut.com – A Tribute To Ignorance (Remix)". unkut.com. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
- Carroll, Lloyd. "Lefrak’s Kenny Smith", Queens Chronicle, October 27, 2016. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Lefrak City native and former Archbishop Molloy hoops star Kenny Smith enjoyed a successful 10-year NBA career, but he is best known for being an analyst on the popular freewheeling pro basketball studio show, Inside the NBA on TBS — renowned for the humorous exchanges between panelists."
- Shannon, Kieran. "The Kieran Shannon Interview: Superman Jermaine Turner still going strong", Irish Examiner, January 29, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2018. "Their new home was out in LeFrak City, over in Queens. Turner attended John Adams High School, a renowned American football programme. Jermaine was a wide receiver, until at 15, he figured it might not be the game for him."
- Official website
- "LeFrak City: One of (the) Largest Housing Complexes in Queens" from About.com
- A Developer's 30: LeFrak's Queens
- LeFrak Organization, developer's website
- Lefrak collection in process. Held by the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.