Queens’ Corona Plaza: A Community Place Rises
Something special is happening in Corona, Queens.
Last week, Streetfilms visited Corona Plaza -- the city's newest car-free space, next to the 103rd Street stop on the 7 train -- and found it already packed with families, children, and shoppers.
This plaza has been in the works for many years, and the local community has taken ownership of it immediately. Volunteers help in locking up the tables and chairs at night and assist in cleaning the space themselves.
The area previously had no public seating whatsoever, which is astonishing considering the dozens of restaurants nearby. Now it is a magnet for people, especially kids, who give the place a vibe that feels different than most other pedestrian plazas. To watch parents sit calmly while their kids play would have been unheard of before the street was reclaimed from traffic and parking.
Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the NYC Department of Transportation, tells us about the future of this space and the thinking behind its current incarnation:
We're planning long term for what we call a capital reconstruction -- where we would build this plaza out completely with concrete and pavers and fixed seating with permanent plantings in the ground and really make it into a beautiful, permanent plaza. But for the moment we can capture this space by putting things on the surface. So we paved over the asphalt with epoxy gravel - loose gravel that is glued to the ground to make it look like a public space. We moved in planters to green and beautify the space. We have moveable seating that people can move in or out of the sun and also the umbrellas. And blocking off the space with granite blocks so that cars cannot drive in it. That way we can create this space for a few years while we are planning and constructing the capital portion.