A Walk Down Woodside Avenue With Queens’ Official Historian


    On Saturday last, Dr. Jack Eichenbaum — Queens Borough Official Historian — offered a walking tour of Woodside Avenue. Last time we visited with him, it was back in January when an icy tour of Willets Point was described.

    It started on Northern Boulevard, at its intersection with Broadway and 54th Street nearby the R/M stop, and continued all the way to Elmhurst.

    Dr. Eichenbaum was gracious enough to invite me, and you Q’Stoners, along for the walk so I made sure I and the camera were there early. After introductions, the group walked west along Northern Boulevard to Woodside Avenue, and away we went.

    LOTS of photos after the jump.


    First stop was the former Trolley waiting room for the N.Y. and Queens Co. RY Co. at Woodside Avenue and Northern, which is now a Pizza Hut. Check out the historical terra cotta signage that still adorns the place.


    Turning on to Woodside Avenue itself, we were greeted by the elevated tracks of both the New York Connecting Railroad and the Long Island Railroad. On the right side of the street, it’s Sunnyside, the left is Woodside.


    Woodside is a highly desirable place to live, with an abundance of one and two family houses. Before the Subways came through in the 1920s, these were the suburbs of Long Island.


    Climbing up a hill, we encountered Doughboy Park.


    Dr. Eichenbaum pointed out several eras of different housing stock along the way, from 19th century wood frames to mid-20th century apartment buildings.


    Doughboy Park is so named for the memorial statue to WWI soldiers found there.


    Woodside Avenue crosses Roosevelt Avenue under the elevated tracks of the 7 train, and the neighborhood takes on a particularly Irish character. That’s Donovan’s Pub on the corner.


    We stopped at St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church, which is actually a former movie theater converted over to a sacred space.


    The shot above is actually from my archives, dating back to the last time I was in St. Sebastian’s with a tripod.


    Dr. Eichenbaum continued up Woodside Avenue, and several members of the group who had grown up in the neighborhood and have since moved away ran into childhood friends and acquaintances as we walked past the many pubs and taverns.


    Dr. Eichenbaum pointed out several businesses which have become fixtures in Woodside, such as Ottomanelli’s.


    We passed by the LIRR and 7 train station. That apartment building is the Woodside Court, which should be a landmark.


    Dr. Eichenbaum made a point of mentioning that despite its nom de plume, this apartment building is in fact not a landmark.


    The LIRR was whizzing by in the street cut that its tracks have run through since the 1870s.


    Speaking of street cuts, one of several detours we made brought us to the trench cut through Queens by Robert Moses to accommodate the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.


    Winfield Reformed Church owns a spectacular Victorian at 67th street.


    The group continued in an easterly direction along Woodside Avenue, marveling at the heterogenous homes and apartment buildings found along it.


    As the 80’s rock anthem says, “little pink houses for you and me.”


    At a LIRR trestle, we encountered a community group working on graffiti coverup and painting over the visual clutter.


    A Romanian Orthodox Church.


    This fellow was just strolling and strumming as we approached the border of Elmhurst.


    We passed Elmhurst Hospital and made a quick turn to the south.


    Several of us in the group agreed that this block in the 70s was likely one of the most iconic Queens-looking locales you could ask for.


    The tour ended on Woodside Avenue’s eastern intersection with Broadway, in Elmhurst. An abundance of Asian supermarkets and restaurants was encountered, and Dr. Eichenbaum suggested that we should all try a certain Vietnamese noodle house. Dr. Eichenbaum had a second tour to do in Flushing during the afternoon, and had to dash.

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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