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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Metzger Sitting Area

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

This sitting area is named for Ilse M. Metzger (1923-1981), a member of the Forest Hills community for many years, who escaped from the Nazis in World War II and continued on to assist Allied Forces in several capacities. From war-torn Europe, she brought with her the compassion and public commitment that blossomed in her transplanted community.

Born on July 28, 1923 in Vienna, Austria, Metzger fled to Scotland, as did many other Jewish children, after Hitler invaded Austria in 1938. Her parents were captured by the Nazis, but Metzger found safe haven with a Christian family in Aberdeen. She worked in a defense factory in London, England during the war, later traveling to Germany to assist the Allies as a reader-translator of important German military and government documents. During this time, she met her husband, David, while he was stationed in the Air Force. Remarkably, her parents survived the brutal persecutions of the Holocaust, and the family was reunited after the war. Metzger immigrated to the United States in 1946.

The Metzgers settled in Forest Hills, where they raised two children, Stephan and Lois. Metzger became involved in the Democratic Party, joining the JFK Club. In 1971, she became a district leader for Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, along with Council Member Morton Povman, and worked to encourage voter registration and improve public services. Metzger also worked with the Boy Scouts, Hadassah, and the local civilian crime patrol. She was also employed as an official in the New York City Department of Transportation. Metzger died of cancer in January of 1981.

Forest Hills was once farmland owned by Frederick Backus, George Backus and Horatio N. Squires. Much of the land was bought by the Cord Meyer Development Company, and its name is derived from its proximity to Forest Park. Kew Gardens, where this park is located, was developed by Albon P. Man in 1868 and named by his heirs, Alrick and Albon Jr., for the famous English botanical gardens. Both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens were transformed into large residential neighborhoods with the expansion of the Long Island Rail Road in 1909. Apartment buildings and one-family houses were constructed through the 1920s, and the extension of the subway to the Union Turnpike station in 1936 resulted in a large boom of apartment buildings. Kew Gardens received many Jewish refugees during World War II, Chinese immigrants after 1965, and Iranian Jews after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Both communities saw large numbers of immigrants during the 1980s and remain residential neighborhoods.

The site, bounded by 78th Avenue and 113th Street, is an extension of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In 1983, Council Member Morton Povman introduced a local law that named this sitting area after Metzger. On Sunday, October 2, 1983, the sitting area was dedicated with a marker donated by developer Joshua L. Muss, and constructed and placed by Dominick Fasolino of Fasolino Memorials. The site was renovated and rededicated in November of 1985, installing new benches, repaving the pathways, pruning trees, and planting shrubs. The sitting area is enjoyed by the neighborhood residents and remains a tribute to a citizen dedicated to her community.

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