Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Malcolm X Promenade

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

What was here before?

The promenade rims a waterway that once fed into a tidal estuary plied by Native Americans, later fished by early European settlers, and then despoiled as an industrial dumping ground. The New York World’s Fair of 1939-40 helped clear and upgrade the land for use as a public park.

How did this site become a promenade?

The Flushing Bay promenade and marina were part of several facilities resulting from the conversion of the vast industrial tract for use as the New York World’s Fair of 1939-40. Steel piling along the bay’s southern shoreline formed a “structural backbone” for the curved promenade, then 25 feet wide and 950 feet long. Landscaped with grass panels lined with trees, and nautically-styled ships railings along the stabilized water’s edge, the walkway created an attractive vista at this formerly derelict waterfront.

In preparation for 1964-65 World’s Fair, architect Peter Schladermunt updated the promenade and marina and designed the distinctive wavy shade structures fabricated by Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation. In 1989, artist Jackie Ferrara was commissioned to create the promenade’s geometric paving patterns. In 1999, the promenade was renovated, and now stretches 1.4 miles from LaGuardia Airport to Harper Street.

Who is this promenade named for?

In 2021, as part of the second phase of NYC Parks’ initiative to expand the representation of African Americans honored in parks, this park feature was named for political and religious leader Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) (1925-1965).

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Louise and Earl Little. The family moved to Michigan, and Earl, an outspoken critic of racial injustice and follower of Marcus Garvey, was killed when Malcolm was six. Louise suffered a nervous breakdown when Malcolm was in middle school, and he was the raised by white foster families.

Though excelling in school, Malcolm dropped out of high school, feeling alienated by a racist society. As a young adult he worked for the New Haven Railroad, and later living in Boston and Harlem engaged in various illegal activities and was imprisoned in 1946 for burglary.

In prison, Malcolm became an avid reader and joined the Nation of Islam. Paroled in 1952, he met with Elijah Muhammed, the leader of the Nation. A highly charismatic minister and speaker, Malcolm rose through the organization, established several temples, and become a key spokesperson. A deeply moral man, he also described himself as “the angriest Black man in America.” For his demonization of a corrupt racist white society and advocacy of violent action as necessary in defense of Blacks, he was vilified in mainstream media and the subject of FBI investigations.

He married Betty Shabazz and moved his family in 1956 to 97th Street in East Elmhurst, near LaGuardia Airport and the Flushing Promenade. After a trip to Mecca in 1964, where he witnessed the breadth of Muslim culture, he tempered his views of whites. He was the target of death threats after he broke with the Nation of Islam’s leadership. His home was firebombed on February 14, 1965, and a week later he was assassinated while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. His life and philosophy are chronicled in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to author Alex Haley, and published posthumously in 1965. Malcolm X’s teachings were important in the Black Power movement and remain influential on public discourse on race relations and societal power structures.

Directions to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Know Before You Go

Marinas
World's Fair Marina

Due to a major planned reconstruction project, Pier 1 at the World's Fair Marina is currently closed. Limited transient dockage is available for smaller recreational vessels - please contact the Dockmasters office at 718-478-0480 or VHF Ch71 for more information. There is no dockage available for larger vessels or commercial vessels, including passenger pick-up and drop-off. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please check back with the World's Fair Marina in the future for updates.

Indoor Pools
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink

The indoor pool is closed at this location.

Recreation Centers
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink

Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool is closed due to needed repairs to the movable floor. Visit our Capital Tracker page for updates on this project.


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