Friday, January 20, 2017
Woodhaven: historic but overcrowded
As its name implies, Woodhaven is truly an escape in the urban jungle.
The Queens neighborhood is probably one of the few places in the city where you can get off the train, take a stroll through a forest, grab a bite to eat from a Latin restaurant and head home to a house that was built a century ago.
“It’s always been a place where people come in and bring their experiences to the community,” said Ed Wendell, a lifelong resident and the executive director of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
Jamaica Avenue is a bustling corridor stocked with mom-and-pop stores and restaurants that reflect the diverse population in the neighborhood, according to Wendell.
“People ask how many businesses have been around for more than 100 years and there are like seven or eight,” Wendell said of the avenue. “We are proud of our history.”
Meanwhile, the one- and two-family homes south of the avenue have kept their Victorian look from the early 1900s. Most also come with backyards.
“It’s an actual community. People get to know each other and help everyone out,” noted Vickie Messina, 67, who has lived in Woodhaven with her husband in their two-story house for 40 years.
But Woodhaven is becoming less of a hidden gem, and some locals said there are concerns about overcrowding.
For example, there have been complaints about illegal conversions that pack too many tenants into basements and other spaces, Wendell said.
“If you walk around the streets of our neighborhood and you look around what you see is a two-family house that has six satellite dishes or four doorbells,” he said.