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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Samuel & Ethel Lefrak Meadow

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This sprawling 96-acre meadow overlooking Willow Lake is named in honor of Samuel and Ethel LeFrak. Samuel J. LeFrak (1918-2003) was the third generation chairman of the Lefrak Organization. Best known for developing nearby Lefrak City, a self-contained housing and commercial complex built in the 1960s, he was one of the foremost leaders in the housing and energy industries of the 20th century.

LeFrak’s grandfather, Aaron LeFrak, emigrated from France to America in 1898 with his son, Harry LeFrak (1885-1963), and founded the company in 1901. Samuel J. LeFrak was born on February 12, 1918. He attended Erasmus Hall High School, the University of Maryland, Columbia University, and Harvard University. He married Ethel Stone, who attended Barnard College, in 1941, and together they had three daughters and a son.

With his great knowledge of housing and energy technology, LeFrak served six New York City mayors, five governors, and five presidents. He was a member of the United States National Energy Council, the New York Task Force on Housing, and the New York City Industrial Development Corporation. Lefrak acted as Special Consultant for the State Department, U.S. delegate to the International Conference on Housing and Urban Development in Geneva, and many nations invited him to advise on their land development projects. In addition to receiving many awards and honorary degrees, LeFrak was knighted by the Kings of both Sweden and Norway. LeFrak also had an extensive art collection, which he lent to museums throughout the world.

Samuel J. LeFrak and his wife, Ethel, donated $25,000 to the City Parks Foundation “Adopt-A-Park” Program for the creation of this meadow, and it was dedicated on May 29, 1991. Located near the southern tip of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, between the Van Wyck Expressway and the Jamaica Yards of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, LeFrak meadow includes the Willow Lake Natural Area. Although constructed for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, this artificial wetland attracts a variety of wildlife. On November 10, 1976, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation designated the 47.6-acre Willow Lake a protected freshwater wetland.

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