When I initially told my father that we were going to Woodside for the neighborhoods project, I asked him what types of restaurants we would find. Immediately, he went “Indian, lots and lots of Indians.” When I returned from my scavenger hunt and told him about all the Irish pubs we saw, he shook his head and said, “Well yeah, the Irish are all there but the Indians are by Roosevelt [Avenue]. That neighborhood’s changed a lot.” What my father referred to as the ‘current Woodside’ runs around 61st Street, where the train station is, versus where my group went on Queens Boulevard near the border with Sunnyside.
Historically, Woodside has always been predominantly Irish. When huge residential development took place during the 1860s, the Irish community flocked there and settled roots to make the largest Irish-American community in Queens. Seventy years later, the population there was still 80% Irish. The amount of diversity seen in Woodside now is predominantly due to the immigrant wave from the late 1990s. Asian-Americans moved into the area on the east side of the 61st Street – Woodside stop off the 7 train, their influence making for stark contrast all the way down towards 40th Street near the Sunnyside-Woodside border. In 2000, the Asian-American population, including mostly Korean-American, Chinese Americans and Filipinos, amounted to 30% in Woodside. The Filipinos in the area in particular have managed to cut out their own little enclave with the presence of a “Little Manila.” In Woodside, it stretches from 63rd to 71st Streets on Roosevelt and includes countless restaurants and shops. Along with these came populations of South Asian-Americans, particularly Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian-American, clustering Roosevelt Avenue, as my father had noted. While there, we also noted many Hispanics as well between the Asian-American and Irish-American populations. Mostly, these Latinos are from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
While the 2011 Census is under fire for underreporting populations in Brooklyn and Queens, the 2000 Census shines a very bright light on how the populations in Woodside compare to others in Queens. Six out of ten residents in Woodside are of foreign-birth, as is the case with Jackson Heights, Flushing, and Corona. Woodside, when combined with Sunnyside and Long Island City in 2000, had Ecuadorians as the most represented Hispanic group, numbering at 6,400 residents, followed by Mexicans at 6,100 and Colombians at 5,900. Among Asian immigrants, China was the country of origin for 7,600 residents followed by 6,800 from Korea, 5,600 from India and 3,500 from the Philippines. The number of Filipinos has increased since that time to about 13,000, as reported by the New York Community Media Alliance in 2006, which can account for the fast growing and strong Little Manila.