Generations of children in East Elmhurst and Corona grew up with a giant boulder as an important part their lives. It’s where they played and fought and had tea parties and picnics. The youngsters used to bury their pets around it because they loved the Giant Rock and in later years they grew concerned for its future in the middle of the rapid development in and around LaGuardia Airport.
In 1980, a Crowne Plaza Hotel was to be built on the site and adults who were once the children who climbed on the boulder rallied around it fearing developers would destroy the big rock with explosives. Attempts were ineffective and the rock still bears scars of the attempted demolition.
Nearly 20 years later they returned to rally around the rock that was threatened by the construction of the Hampton Inn.
The 1,000-ton boulder, left behind by the glacier that created Long Island 12,000 years ago, became a centerpiece of the parking lot of the two hotels but it had a plaque calling it The Ditmars Boulevard Crowne Plaza Pet Rock after employees at the two hotels had a competition to name it.
Nearly half a year ago, the group addressed a letter to both hotels requesting the name be changed back to Giant Rock.
“We didn’t hear back so we put up a petition online,” Drew said. “But before we could tell them about it we got a letter from them saying they wanted to rededicate it.”
Vivian Callendar and Deborah Tyson, two principal founding members of the Corona-East Elmhurst Historical Preservation Society were thrilled with the group’s success.
My Parents moved from Harlem to Corona and it was a very big deal in 1927,” Callendar said. “When you got out of Harlem this was like the country and this is where we all played together, whether you were from Corona or East Elmhurst.”