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QueensLine: Problem with mail delivery lead to naming of Corona

By The Greater Astoria Historical Society

In June 1868, Thomas Waite Howard moved to West Flushing. He found the community’s name confusing to both outsiders and the postal service since a good portion of the community’s mail ended up in Flushing. He petitioned the U.S. Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., to change the area’s name to “Corona,” an original name he coined for the area. His thinking was the “crown of Queens County.”

He submitted his application in the spring of 1870. The community fulfilled all the requirements of law: 600 people lived within a mile radius of the railroad station. Washington granted his first request in June 1872, with Howard the first postmaster with the salary of $12 a year. The first post office opened on the northeast corner of 43rd and National avenues. The first record of the name in print was nearly a year later in February 1873.

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In June 1947, although World War II was over for two years, the newspapers were still filled with stories about it and the lingering effects it had on everyone. Help wanted ads for Pan American Airlines advertised “preference given to veterans.” Another ad, by General Tire warned, “those risky wartime tires must go!” New sets of tires went from $15.20 to $43.40.

The War Assets Administration Customer Service Center was housed in a large warehouse at the old post office on 48th Street and Northern Boulevard. The government invited the public to buy surplus war goods: “Look them over, arrange for credit, and place your bid.” Lots included such choice items as 1,272 fire axes and 28,937 cans of black water proofing compound at only 5 cents a can.

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The post-war prosperity generated traffic that was strangling Steinway Street, a prime shopping area in 1947 as it is today. Although parking was desperately needed, a five-man delegation sent by the Steinway Merchants Committee that met with then-Borough President Burke reported little progress.

“No definite answer on a parking lot,” said Edward Dengler of the committee. Its modest proposal, parking for 400 cars, met less than half of the area’s parking needs. The Steinway Street shopping district, catering to every community in northeast Queens, annually rang up over $20 million in retail sales.

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At Queens Terrace, on Roosevelt Avenue at 69th Street, a new spring show featured “The Comedy Sensation of 1947,” Alan King, along with a “Review of Gorgeous Girls” and the Joe DeCarlo Orchestra. A season of swim show performances at the Flushing Meadows Aquacade geared up for another summer. Seating 8,272, the stadium sold tickets starting at 60 cents.

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The Whitman galleries on Northern Blvd. in Flushing auctioned lace and jewels said to be part of the Russian crown jewel collection. Also in Flushing, Johanna Racich, who grew tobacco and cotton in her backyard, died at 99 in 1947. Asked the secret to longevity, she mentioned a good diet and a sensible lifestyle. “Every morning I get up at 3 a.m. There is always something to do at that hour!”

For more information, call 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.

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