By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Ambling through what Corona locals refer to as Spaghetti Park (Joseph Lisa/William F. Moore Memorial Square) during warmer months gives you the sense of a community impervious to change: Boccie balls crack in the distance while elderly Italian gents recline on pull-out chairs. The Lemon Ice King (52-02 108th Street, 718-699-5133), which boasts 30 flavors of natural fruit ices, is a 60-year-old institution, and Italian meat markets and restaurants speckle 108th Street and Corona Avenue. Despite the old-country feel, this once predominantly Italian and African American residential area now flourishes with a large Latino population of Dominican, Mexican, and Peruvian peoples. According to Patrick Chen of Re/Max Realty, like most folks skirting Manhattan living, "immigrants love to come here because of the lower cost for homes and easier transportation to work."
Public Transportation: Jump on the 7 train at 42nd Street for a 30-minute ride to the 103rd Street-Corona Plaza Station, where you can also link up with the Q23 bus. If you want to catch a Mets game or a U.S. Open match, the LIRR takes you directly from Penn Station to the part-time Shea Stadium stop, which borders Corona to the east.
Average Prices to Rent: Studio, $650; one-bedroom, $750; two-bedroom, $1100
Average Prices to Buy: One-family house, $320,000 to $350,000; two-family house, $400,000 to $525,000
Cultural Institutions:The Langston Hughes Library and Cultural Center (100-01 Northern Boulevard, 718-651-1100) houses a large collection of black-history materials and offers independent film festivals, theatrical performances, concerts, readings, exhibitions of emerging artists, annual Caribbean and Kwanzaa celebrations, and a yearly Langston Hughes tribute. The Queens Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Community Center (102-09 Northern Boulevard, 718-GAY-2300), the first of its kind in the borough, serves as a meeting space for a number of GLBT organizations, and features such programs as "Generation Q," geared toward queer youth under 21.
Landmarks: Jazz enthusiasts can look forward to the Louis Armstrong House (34-56 107th Street, 718-478-8274). Home to Satchmo for 28 years, it is being transformed into a museum offering tours, exhibits, and special events in the Armstrong garden.
Green Space: Historic Flushing Meadows- Corona Park is like a big sister to Central Park, with even more indoor and outdoor activities, including Shea Stadium, the Queens Museum of Art, Queens Theater in the Park, the Queens Botanical Gardens, the Hall of Science, and the Queens Wildlife Center. You can get a glimpse of bikers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, strollers, ice-skaters, freshwater fishers, rowboaters, and more while meandering within its 1255 acres.
Happenings: Queens Theater in the Park's seventh annual Latin Cultural Festival (July 30 through August 10) is one of the nation's largest, highlighting Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. In the past it has featured such global artists as Ballet Folclórico de Chile, Maldita Vecindad, Alberto Cortez, Repertorio Español, Spain's Noche Flamenca, and many more. Call 718-760-0064 for information on this year's lineup.
Best Eats: With imported goods, an indoor-outdoor café, and delectable cakes and cookies, Stasi Pastry Shop (69-02 Roosevelt Avenue, 718-426-8676) is one of Corona's coziest eateries. For reasonably priced Italian fare that's a neighborhood fave, visit Park Side (108th Street and 51st Avenue, 718-271-9871), where excellent service and ambience add to the overall package. La Nueva Brisa (37-79 103rd Street, 718-205-4941) is known for some of the best Dominican food around (just be sure to prep on your Spanish un poquito).
Local Politicians: Congressman Anthony Weiner and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate and Councilwoman Helen Sears, Assemblymen Jose Peralta and Jeffrion L. Aubry, and State Senators John Sabini and Toby Ann Staviskyall Democrats.
Crime Statistics: The 110th Precinct serves Elmhurst, Corona, and Flushing Meadows- Corona Park. As of February 9, it reported zero murders, the same as last year; five rapes, the same as last year; 51 robberies, down 16; 30 felony assaults, the same as last year; and 78 burglaries, up eight.