City Living: Woodside
The people of Woodside love their hometown -- even if they ended up here accidentally.
Danny Ensanian moved to Woodside two years ago after initially looking for a place in the nearby hotspots of Astoria or Long Island City. The marketing coordinator said he is now thrilled to call the central Queens neighborhood home.
I didnt know much about the area at all at first, Ensanian said. But I definitely got a good feeling after looking around Woodside.
The neighborhood has a mix of newcomers and lifers. Residents like Ensanian said Woodside is affordable, accessible and diverse.
In just one Woodside block, visitors can find an Irish pub, a sushi parlor, an Italian restaurant, a deli -- and just about anything else a city-slicker can dream of.
Denise Keehan has more than three decades of life in Woodside under her belt and in those years she saw a great deal of change. Growing up, Keehan said she was close with her neighborhood friends.
She said the neighborhood is now pulling off an impressive feat of maintaining its roots as a small town in a big city while also making room for a booming new demographic.
A lot of my growing up centered around the church back then, she said, paying respect to St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church. A lot of kids participated in the church. It is still to a certain extent that way, but not as much.
Not only is Woodside a central point of Queens -- arguably the most diverse borough in the city -- but it is also the geographic center of New York City, according to a gold-trimmed plaque at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 58th Street.
Head down 54th Street near 37th Avenue and spot the Playbill Inc. building, where more than four million programs are printed each month for various city productions.
The area is also home to some of the citys parades, including Queens Saint Patricks Day parade, which took place this year on March 1st.
The area was mostly established in the late 1860s, when it shifted from farmlands to urban life. By the early 1900s, Woodside was well on its way to becoming an ideal spot to settle because of its expanding railway options and booming residential and commercial development, according to news reports from the time.
Today, the area is easily accessible by numerous trains and buses. Roosevelt Avenue runs through the heart of the nabe and includes the Long Island Rail Road hub, which can take commuters anywhere between eastern Long Island and the rest of the city.
Woodsides real estate market is also diverse. The neighborhood has its fair share of apartment dwellers, also boasts some single-family homes that have been there for decades.
Alfredo Ramos of American Dream Real Estate said it has a booming market, from six-story walk-ups to co-ops, with the average one-bedroom going for anywhere between $1,400 and $2,000 a month, depending on where you look.
Recent news reports also hint at new developments coming to the area as its neighboring Long Island City continues to boom.
Congressman Joseph Crowley, of Jackson Heights, was raised in Woodside and said that regardless of the national economy, the area remains a great place to raise a family.
A lot of communities in Queens have been able to maintain their identities as a neighborhood over the years, Crowley said. And Woodside has that as well. People identify with it. They dont say Im from Queens. They say, Im from Woodside.
It has always been a vibrant, very multi-cultural kind of community, he added. Back when I was growing up, it was very Irish, Italian and German. It still has a strong flavor of that, but is now home to so many other ethnic groups as well.
Notable people from Woodside:
Edward Burns, actor
Francis Ford Coppola, movie director and producer
Joel Klein, former city schools chancellor
Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author