Neighborhood gathering place and impromptu playground
The Big Rock, or Pet Rock as it has been aptly named, sits in a parking lot near LaGuardia airport, nestled between two hotels. The rock has been there as long as anyone can remember. Once surrounded by an empty lot, it was the playing ground for neighborhood children, and inspired such affection that neighbors have rallied to protect it from removal more than once. Around 1980, when a Crowne Plaza Hotel was to be built on the site, adults who were once the kids playing on the rock rallied together to make sure that it could rest in peace. 19 years later, the rock was threatened again, by the construction of the Hampton Inn. Once again the community came together, and the rock now stands, where it always has, regal and silent. One receptionist at the Crowne Plaza hotel put it best when she said “We take care of...
When this gathering spot and "playground" was threatened by the creation of a motel on the site, the community rallied around the rock and succeeded in having it included in the development--a plaque commemorates community memories of the "Big Rock."
Not sure who decided to dub "The Big Rock" a pet rock. It was never a pet -- it was our fortress, our place of imagination.
During the mid-1950s through the 1970s, kids from both sides of Astoria Boulevard (Corona and East Elmhurst) ventured to the Big Rock. We considered the area one community and the rock belonged to all of us.
Neighborhoods change, old folks pass away, kids grow up and leave and new folks come in. But, the Big Rock remained just that- "The Big Rock" - solid and stable. Those of us who grew up and played there will always refer to it as just that. We don't need to make it cute by calling it a pet, we don't need to make it acceptable to corporations, we just need to leave it alone.