History of Woodside

Interior of a Woodside Cottage. (1897)

71st Street-Woodside Ave

Woodside, Queens was Originally settled by native Americans, It has actually been inhabited for over 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest communities in Queens. In 1867, developer Benjamin Hitchcock bought a 115 acre farm, split it up into lots, and sold them in 1869, thus creating the village of Woodside. Woodside’s population was able to grow quickly, especially after the construction of the Queensboro Bridge and the building of subway tracks. By 1910, the population had grown to 6,000.

As its population multiplied, Woodside was forced to change from a quaint suburb to a much more urban setting. In 1924, the City Housing Corporation began building private homes, much to the disagreement of the community, since there was a large influx of immigrants. They ne

eded space to put the newcomers. They wanted apartment buildings., but the City Corporation did not.  As a result, many immigrants ended up being tenants in crammed single family homes with unsanitary and crowded living arrangements. In the 1960s, Woodside finally became more urban and accommodating with the construction of the Big Six Towers apartment buildings, which replaced single homes.

Woodside, Maspeth, East Williamsburg (1873)

From its early days Woodside has been an affordable, working-class, immigrant neighborhood.

After its founding in 1869, many Irish-American immigrants settled in Woodside. Woodside quickly became the largest Irish-American community in Queens. The Irish flocked to Wood-

side because of its large Irish population, affordable housing, and easy access to transportation.. Up until the early 1930’s Woodside was 80% Irish. Throughout the 20th century Irish immigrants dominated the neighborhood. Yet Woodside was not very diverse, since it was mainly made up of only one group. Although now many new ethnic groups have appeared, Woodside continues to have an enduring Irish population.

In recent years, an influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America has greatly altered the ethnic landscape of the neighborhood. Starting in the early 1990’s many Asian Americans moved into the neighborhood, most of them Chinese, Filipino, and Korean.  Filipinos alone make up 15% of Woodside’s population. Many South Asians have moved into Woodside as well, mainly Indians, Bengalis, and Pakistanis. Woodside also has a high concentration of Hispanic immigrants, including Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Mexicans, and Dominicans.

Today, Woodside’s diversity is clearly shown through its restaurants. Roosevelt Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the neighborhood, is dotted with different ethnic restaurants. The neighborhood is serviced by the number 7 train, which has tracks running above Roosevelt Avenue. The population today is around 85, 000. It has become somewhat of an urban suburb of Manhattan for the working class people. In Woodside, although the Irish influence is still present, it is mixing with the new Asian and Hispanic influences. Irish pubs can be found right next door to a Filipino restaurant. In 1950, or even 1970, this would not have been the case. On Roosevelt Avenue you would have found Irish pubs and bakeries. Over the years the businesses found in Woodside have changed drastically. Due to the high concentration of Irish-American immigrants, most of the businesses in Woodside’s earlier history were Irish run. Now one can still find pubs, but there are also curry shops, a Mexican restaurant, Filipino restaurants, and other ethnic stores.