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.
The village was founded in 1652 in the Dutch colony of
New Netherland (Nieuw Nederland) by English
Massachusetts. They named it Middelburgh ('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 (Nieuw 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 Nieuwe Stad (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
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.
1910 map of old roads in New Town
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 the remains of a woman were discovered 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.
Prior to World War II, Elmhurst had become an almost exclusively
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
For many years, the Elmhurst gas tanks, a pair of large
natural gasstorage structures built in 1910 and 1921 on 57th Avenue between 74th and 80th Streets, were well-known landmarks, standing 200 feet (61 m) 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.
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 750.28 acres (303.63 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 117.9 inhabitants per acre (75,500/sq mi; 29,100/km2).
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.
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.: 2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.: 53 (PDF p. 84)  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.: 2
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.
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. As of 2018[update], 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.: 8
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.
Engine Co. 287/Ladder Co. 136/Battalion 46, one of two fire stations in Elmhurst
FDNY EMS Station 46 is located on the grounds of Elmhurst Hospital Center.
As of 2018[update],
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).: 11 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%.: 14
The concentration of
fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of
air pollutant, in Elmhurst and Corona is 0.0077 milligrams per cubic metre (7.7×10−9 oz/cu ft), slightly higher than the city average.: 9 Fifteen percent of Elmhurst and Corona residents are
smokers, which is equal to the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.: 13 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.: 16 In addition, 24% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.: 12
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%.: 13 For every supermarket in Elmhurst and Corona, there are 16
Elks Lodge 878 building on Queens Boulevard is now the New Life Fellowship Church.
Ascension Roman Catholic Church (86-13 55th Avenue)
Bangladesh Hindu Mandir (94-39 44th Avenue)
Christian Testimony Church (87-11 Whitney Avenue). Originally a
synagogue—as evidenced by the former presence of the word
Mizpah (watchtower) above the front door—the building is now a Christian church with a congregation composed mainly of Chinese people, with services in both
Elmhurst Baptist Church (87-37 Whitney Avenue), founded in 1900, built in 1902. The congregation is very diverse and multi-ethnic. The church building is constructed of stone.
Reformed Church of Newtown (85-15 Broadway), founded in 1731. The original church was built in 1733, with a replacement built in 1831, expanded in 1851, and fitted with
stained glass by 1874. The church has a small, historic graveyard on the side facing Corona Avenue.
The Rock Church at Elmwood Theatre (57-02 Hoffman Drive), at 57th Avenue and Hoffman Drive, is housed in the former
Loews Elmwood Theater. The theater, built in 1928, was formerly one of the largest theaters in the city and currently seats 3,000 people. Its name was a
portmanteau word, composed of the names "Elmhurst" and "Woodhaven", the latter alluding to nearby
Woodhaven Boulevard. One of the city's last community theaters, it was considered for demolition in 1968 and in 1999; both times, the site was planned as an adjunct for the nearby, now-closed, St. John's Queens Hospital. The theater closed in 2002 and was purchased by the Rock Church, but was temporarily used as a music venue before the church opened in 2006. The theater has a
water tower and a huge sign saying "Elmwood" on the roof.
St. Bartholomew's Church (43-22 Ithaca Street), founded in 1906, present structure built in 1930. The original church, built in 1910, is at Whitney and 43rd Avenues.
St. James Church (originally St. James Episcopal Church, at Broadway and 51st Avenue) is Elmhurst's oldest extant building, having been built in 1734 under the rule of British
King George III. In 1848, it became a community center and Sunday school, upon which the church moved to a new building that later burned down. A
clock tower atop the original building was destroyed in an 1882 storm. The original church building is now on the
National Register of Historic Places.
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 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2), 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.
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
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
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 as of 2018[update]. 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.: 6 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%.: 24 (PDF p. 55) : 6 Additionally, 81% of high school students in Elmhurst and Corona graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.: 6
The Elmhurst Educational Complex is a renovated spice factory housing multiple educationally robust schools. Opened in 2008, it contains three high schools, an elementary school, and an early childhood center.
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, 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) building, which included elements of the original structure, was opened to the public in December 2016 at a cost of $32 million.
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.
^"A Hospital Where Ethnic Change Is Constant". The New York Times. October 6, 1982.
ISSN0362-4331. Retrieved July 5, 2020. Dr. Stanley Bleich had been an intern less than a month at the municipal hospital in Elmhurst, Queens,... one of the city's 16 municipal hospitals, [which] is in what immigration officials have described as the city's most ethnically diverse neighborhood.
^Hevesi, Dennis (September 20, 1993).
"Memory-Filled Tanks; Queens Loses 2 Roadside Landmarks". The New York Times.
ISSN0362-4331. Retrieved July 5, 2020. The Elmhurst tanks — those 200-foot monoliths that stood sentinel to the changing landscape of Queens and as harbingers of hair-tearing delay on the highway to Manhattan — are down, deflated forever, their skeletal remains waiting to be dismantled
^"Elmhurst gas tanks". Queens Tribune. Archived from
the original on June 8, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007. But when the beloved landmarks weren't really doing the business anymore they came down in 1996 and by 2001 there was almost no trace of the tanks that once supplied business and homes across the city.
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Accessed July 7, 2016. "Elmhurst Park, once an eyesore and traffic landmark, opened to the public in 2011 as a magnificent community greenspace. The site of Elmhurst Park was once the location of two KeySpan Newtown gas holders, a highway landmark popularly known as the 'Elmhurst gas tanks.'"
^Honan, Katie (December 14, 2016).
"$32.4M Elmhurst Library Finally Reopens After Yearslong Construction". DNAinfo.com. Archived from
the original on August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2017. The neighborhood's library is finally set to reopen in a brand-new, $32.4 million space that officials say honors the original building build 110 years ago. The Elmhurst branch of the Queens Library, at 86-01 Broadway, closed in 2011 for a demolition and rebuild that was originally only supposed to take two years.... The four-story library — which, at 32,000 square feet is double the size of the original building — will be celebrated with a grand reopening on Tuesday, Dec. 20, officials said.
"Joan Hackett, 49, The Actress; Won 1982 Oscar Nomination", The New York Times, October 10, 1983. Accessed September 20, 2018. "Joan Hackett, daughter of an Italian mother and an Irish-American father, was born March 1, 1934, in East Harlem. The Hacketts soon moved to Elmhurst, Queens, and that was home when the future actress with the high cheekbones and the aristocratic nose dropped out of her senior year in high school to work as a model."
"Butler: After 60 years, SBU’s Kenville gets his ring", Olean Times Herald, May 11, 2015. Accessed August 29, 2017. "With his team down 17 in the deciding game, the Elmhurst, N.Y. native was brought in off the bench by head coach Al Cervi, who told his young shooting guard, 'get in there and win this thing.' Kenville wound up scoring a team-high 15 points as Syracuse came back to beat the Fort Wayne Pistons, 92-91, for the title."
^"A Childhood In Queens Shaped Japan's Likely Next Prime Minister", Patch, September 30, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2023. "In 1963, when he was six years old, Kishida moved with his family to Queens for his father’s job. He attended second and third grade at P.S. 13 in Elmhurst, where he can be seen posing in front of an American flag in a class photo — an image first reported by the New York Times."
"Industry, Growth In 1879 Queens", Queens Gazette, February 13, 2013. Accessed July 20, 2016. "On Shell Road in Newtown (known today as Elmhurst) sat a stately, elegant mansion, one of several homes in the area once occupied by the Moore family. Benjamin Moore, an Episcopal bishop, and president of Columbia University, and his brother Samuel Moore, a distinguished physician, were raised here. The bishop’s son, Clement Clark Moore, also raised on the family property, wrote the yuletide poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, better known as ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’'."
"Profiles, Supreme Confidence", The New Yorker, March 28, 2005, p. 40. Accessed October 22, 2007. "Tells about Scalia’s childhood in Trenton, New Jersey and Elmhurst Queens. His father, Eugene, was a professor at Brooklyn College and a believer in the principles of the New Criticism."
"Film Review: Revenge of the Green Dragons", Variety (magazine), October 28, 2014. Accessed July 20, 2016. "As laid out in Fredric Dannen's detailed 1992 New Yorker account (the authoritative basis for Loo and Michael Di Jiacomo's patched-together script), the Green Dragons were a ruthless street gang in Elmhurst, Queens, consisting primarily of first-generation Chinese youths whose awareness of their third-class citizenship bred a particularly menacing form of social rebellion."