Woodhaven, Queens

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Neighborhood of Queens
Woodhaven Boulevard
Location within New York City
Country United States
State New York
City New York City
County/Borough Queens
Population (2010 United States Census)[1]
 • Total56,674
 • Hispanic53.5%
 • Asian17.4%
 • White17.3%
 • Black6.1%
 • Other5.7%
 • Median income$51,596
ZIP Code11421
Area code(s)718, 347, 929, and 917

Woodhaven is a middle-class neighborhood located in the central section of the New York City borough of Queens. Woodhaven, once known as Woodville, has one of the greatest tree populations in the borough and is known for its proximity to the hiking trails of Forest Park.[3] Between the bustling shops and subway line of Jamaica Avenue and the quieter neighborhood that surrounds it, Woodhaven is both urban and suburban.[4][5] Its retains the small-town feel of bygone days and is home to people of many different ethnicities.[6][7]


Woodhaven is bordered on the north by the public Forest Park, and Park Lane South. Woodhaven also borders Richmond Hill to the east, and Ozone Park to the south at Atlantic Avenue. Its western border is the borough of Brooklyn.[8]

The ethnically diverse neighborhood[9] is part of Queens Community Board 9.[10] Woodhaven's ZIP Code is 11421. Woodhaven is served by New York City Department of Education School District #27 (Bounded by Nassau County on one side and Brooklyn on the other).[11]


The Wisconsin Glacier retreated from Long Island some 20,000 years ago, leaving behind the hills to the north of Woodhaven that now are part of Forest Park,[12] the third largest park in Queens.[13] Southern Woodhaven is mostly flat (the lowest elevation is just under 30 feet (9.1 m) ), while northern Woodhaven gradually rises to about 105 feet (32 m) as it approaches Forest Park.


European settlement in Woodhaven began in the mid-18th century as a small town that revolved around farming, with the Ditmar, Lott, Wyckoff, Suydam and Snediker families. British troops successfully flanked General George Washington's Continental Army by a silent night-march from Gravesend, Brooklyn through the lightly defended "Jamaica Pass" actually located in Brooklyn, to win the Battle of Long Island, Queens—the largest battle of the American Revolutionary War, and the first battle after the Declaration of Independence.

Later, Woodhaven became the site of two racetracks: the Union Course[14] (1821) and the Centerville (1825). Union Course was a nationally famous racetrack situated in the area now bounded by 78th Street, 82nd Street, Jamaica Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. The Union Course was the site of the first skinned—or dirt—racing surface, a curious novelty at the time. These courses were originally without grandstands. The custom of conducting a single, four-mile (6 km) race consisting of as many heats as were necessary to determine a winner, gave way to programs consisting of several races. Match races[15] between horses from the South against those from the North drew crowds as high as 70,000. Several hotels (including the Snedeker Hotel[16] and the Forschback Inn) were built in the area to accommodate the racing crowds.

Grosjean farm in 1882

A Connecticut Yankee, John R. Pitkin, developed the eastern area as a workers' village and named it Woodville (1835). In 1853, he launched a newspaper. That same year, the residents petitioned for a local post office. To avoid confusion with a Woodville located upstate, the residents agreed to change the name to Woodhaven. The original boundaries extended as far south as Liberty Avenue.

Two Frenchmen named Charles Lalance and Florian Grosjean launched the village as a manufacturing community in 1863, by opening a tin factory and improving the process of tin stamping. As late as 1900, the surrounding area, however, was still primarily farmland, and from Atlantic Avenue one could see as far south as Jamaica Bay, site of present-day John F. Kennedy International Airport. Since 1894, Woodhaven's local newspaper has been the Leader-Observer.

Points of interest[edit]

Episcopal Church of St Matthew

The former St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, a church at 85-45 96th Street now known as All Saints Episcopal Church, has a parish hall dating to 1907.[17] The church was built between 1926 and 1927 in the Late Gothic Revival style, designed by the architect Robert F. Schirmer. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Located behind the church is the separately listed Wyckoff-Snediker Family Cemetery.[18]

The Forest Park Carousel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.[18]

The distinctive St. Anthony's Mansion (which later became St. Anthony's Hospital) stood on a seven-acre tract of land on Woodhaven Boulevard between 89th and 91st Avenues.[19] The hospital significantly helped the scientific community in the creation of breakthroughs in Pulmonary and Heart treatments. The hospital was demolished in the late 1990s.[20] A historical marker has been placed on the site, which is now a residential area known as Woodhaven Park Estates.

One of the oldest homes in Woodhaven is located on 87-20 88th Street. It was first located on Jamaica Avenue. In 1920, the entire house was forced to move to its current location on 88th Street due to the construction of the BMT Jamaica Line. The house was built about or prior to 1910. The first house number in Queens (from the borough's renumbering under the Philadelphia Plan), was also in Woodhaven and the house was owned by a German immigrant named Albert Voigt.[21][22]

Neir's Tavern in 1898

Neir's Tavern, founded in Woodhaven in 1829 and in nearly continuous operation since then (except during Prohibition) is one of the older bars in the United States. The Crystal Manor Hotel building, once considered a refined hotel for businessmen, survives at Woodhaven Blvd and Jamaica Ave. and the brick exterior has remained largely the same for more than 100 years.[23]

Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, wrote most of the book in Woodhaven, at Forest Parkway near 85th Drive (though the story is set in nearby Cypress Hills).[24] The Woodhaven Post Office has a Works Progress Administration mural by Ben Shahn.[25] The Brooklyn Royal Giants, a professional Negro Baseball League team, played in Dexter Park, which was torn down in 1955 and today is marked with a plaque.[26][27] The Lalance & Grosjean Tin Manufacturing Factory of Woodhaven produced many kitchen and household objects, some of which were featured in MOMA exhibitions on 20th Century design.[28]

Forest Park, once owned by Brooklyn and known as Brooklyn Forest Park, was home to the Rockaway, Delaware and Lenape Native Americans until Dutch West India Company settlers arrived in 1634 and began establishing towns and pushing the tribes out.[29] The park contains the largest continuous oak forest in Queens.[30]


Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Woodhaven was 56,674, an increase of 2,525 (4.7%) from the 54,149 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 853.08 acres (345.23 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 66.4 inhabitants per acre (42,500/sq mi; 16,400/km2).[1]

The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 17.3% (9,798) White, 6.1% (3,458) African American, 0.4% (250) Native American, 17.4% (9,856) Asian, 0.0% (23) Pacific Islander, 2.4% (1,371) from other races, and 2.8% (1,612) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 53.5% (30,306) of the population.[2]


Looking north from the Woodhaven Boulevard BMT Jamaica Line station, above Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens.

In 1836, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) cars were pulled by horses along Atlantic Avenue. The cars traveled with other traffic at street level and stopped at all major intersections, much as a bus does, except that people would often hop on and hop off while the car was moving. The 1848 LIRR schedule shows an intersection called Union Course (serving that racetrack) and another called Woodville (farther east). With electrification, the LIRR constructed permanent tracks. The Union Course station was opened April 28, 1905. In 1911, the platform was widened to four tracks, and Atlantic Avenue was mostly closed to other traffic. The four tracks split the community and become the border between Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

Elevated transit service to Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan began in 1917 with the operation of the BMT Jamaica Line above Jamaica Avenue. Meanwhile, service on Atlantic Avenue's surface tracks and seven stations between Jamaica and Brooklyn ended on November 1, 1939 and was subsequently replaced in 1942 by underground tracks and a single underground station between Jamaica and Brooklyn. With the removal of surface rail tracks, Atlantic Avenue was again a continuous roadway. The single station in this long tunnel was the Woodhaven Junction station (at 100th Street) on the LIRR's Atlantic Avenue Branch, providing rail service to Jamaica station and Brooklyn (Atlantic Terminal) until it too was closed in 1977. The Woodhaven Junction station was also a popular stop for beachgoers and commuters who would transfer to the above ground LIRR Woodhaven Junction station for trains to Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway. The Woodhaven Junction station was taken out of service when this section of the Rockaway Beach Branch was abandoned in 1962.[31][32][33]

Today, MTA Regional Bus Operations' Q11, Q21, Q24, Q52 SBS, Q53 SBS, Q56, Q60, BM5 and QM15 bus routes serve Woodhaven. The New York City Subway's J and ​Z trains serve the Jamaica Line.[34]

Some Queens transit advocates are pushing to reopen the Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR, including the Brooklyn Manor station in Woodhaven, at Jamaica Avenue and 100th Street.[35] An alternate proposal has been to leave the naturally reforested tracks untouched or to covert them into a greenway similar to Manhattan's High Line.[36]


Forest Park, Queens

Woodhaven's major recreational park is Forest Park, known for its golf course, tennis courts, bandshell, carousel, playgrounds, athletic fields, dog runs, and wooded parkland.

Every month at Forest Park, the Queens Borough Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic presents Symphony, Jazz and other music events. The Metropolitan Opera, Big Apple Circus, as well as other organizations carry out recreational activities in the famous Bandshell within the park. Woodhaven remains as one of the preserved areas of Queens with traces of its history still in sight.

Dexter Park[37] baseball field, which once occupied 10 acres (40,000 m2) in Woodhaven just east of Franklin K. Lane High School is where baseball history was made in 1930 with the installation of the first engineered lighting system for night games.[38]


Public schools include:

Private schools include:

PS 254


Forest Park Drive north of Park Lane South, in Woodhaven, Queens.

Today, Woodhaven is a mostly residential semi-suburban neighborhood with a low-density population, consisting mostly of European and Latin Americans, a small number of African Americans, and a growing number of Asian Americans.[39] As in nearby Queens Village, Hollis, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park, many families include first generation war veterans. Local residents are quick to point out that Woodhaven is home to a great number of shared cultures, exemplifying the broad range of ethnicities present in the most diverse county in the United States—Queens County, NY.

Homes in the northern section of the neighborhood are mainly Victorian and Colonial and many are over 120 years old.[40] In the southern section many houses are also Victorian.[41] The area is considered more affordable than many in the city.[42]

Commerce is centered on Jamaica Avenue which effectively bisects Woodhaven. On this avenue are a large number of stores and restaurants, most being small and locally owned.[43][44] One of the oldest was Lewis of Woodhaven, which had two locations and closed its doors in 2004.[45] Many longtime businesses remain, however.[46] Neir's Tavern first opened in 1829, and some historians argue that it is the city's oldest bar.[47][48] As of 2018, Woodhaven residents and other preservationists were still petitioning the City of New York to grant the tavern landmark status.[49][50] The owner, Loycent Gordon, points to the city's failure to bestow landmark status on the bar as evidence of "the oligarchy of the Manhattan-centric system."[51] Another longtime establishment, Schmidt's Candy, opened in 1925 and is run by the granddaughter of its founder.[52] Popp’s Restaurant has been at the corner of 86th and Jamaica since 1907. [53]

An annual motorcycle parade on Woodhaven Boulevard commemorates the bravery of war veterans and collects donations for the Salvation Army and holiday toys for needy children. An annual street fair also takes place on Jamaica Avenue with live music, and other festivities for children; this event enables residents to appreciate diversity from the many different backgrounds the residents of Woodhaven originate. A landmarked carousel and other amusement rides for children are available in the park, along with hiking trails, playgrounds, a pond, a barbecue area, a bandshell, a nature center and a dog run.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62] Therapeutic horseback riding for people with special needs is also available in the park.[63]

Writers, artists and musicians have been drawn to the area with its proximity to Forest Park and affordable housing.[64][65][66][67] Woodhaven has been called "one of the epicenters of NYC’s metal landscape" (with Greenpoint as the other epicenter) due to a recording studio located in the neighborhood. [68][69] The area has a tattoo and piercing parlor run by women that was featured in the documentary Feminine Ink.[70][71]

In popular culture[edit]

The scene in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas", where members of the Mafia showed up after robbing the airport showing off mink coats and pink Cadillacs, took place at Neir's Tavern located on 78th Street. There is an historical marker placed outside the establishment.[50] Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple filmed a scene filmed in 2017 for the Woody Allen movie Wonder Wheel at Jamaica Avenue and 80th Street.[72] The opening scenes of the 1984 film The Flamingo Kid were filmed at 96th Street and Jamaica Avenue.[73]

TV shows that have filmed in Woodhaven include The Americans (Forest Park Bandshell) and Person of Interest (Forest Park Carousel).[74][75]

Mae West is said to have performed at Neir's Tavern, in an entertainment hall that was upstairs.[76][77][78]

Notable residents[edit]

Notable current and former residents of Woodhaven include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Table PL-P5 NTA: Total Population and Persons Per Acre - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, February 2012. Accessed June 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Table PL-P3A NTA: Total Population by Mutually Exclusive Race and Hispanic Origin - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, March 29, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2016.
  3. ^ Haller, Vera (2015-10-21). "Woodhaven, Queens: Subway Stops and Hiking Trails". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  4. ^ "Woodhaven, Queens: Subway Stops and Hiking Trails". The New York Times. 2015-10-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  5. ^ "Overcrowding a concern as Woodhaven grows in popularity". am New York. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  6. ^ Haller, Vera (2015-10-21). "Woodhaven, Queens: Subway Stops and Hiking Trails". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  7. ^ Lefkowitz, Melanie (2013-05-18). "More and More Find Haven in Woodhaven". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Extended Information on Forest Park".
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  39. ^ "Census Bureau 2000 Data".
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  43. ^ "Woodhaven, Queens: An oasis of small businesses with a diverse community". AM New York. New York. January 18, 2017.
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  66. ^ "The artist living among us in Woodhaven - Hank Virgona walks to the 85th Street train station nearly every morning to ride the subway into the city. He's been following this routine for decades six days a week. The ten-block walk to the station on..." Retrieved 2018-05-14.
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  79. ^ "Brody's friend's parents proud", CNN.com, March 25, 2003. Accessed May 17, 2007. "Brody, who grew up in Woodhaven, and Zarobinski, a native of Rego Park, attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts together, where Brody studied acting and Zarobinski studied drawing."
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  81. ^ Lupica, Mike. "Cipolla Hits From Queens", New York Daily News, March 26, 1996. Accessed November 27, 2017. "And the only reason we are talking about Smart today, or Boeheim, is because a kid out of Woodhaven, Queens, named Jason Cipolla made a sweet jumper of his own from the left corner, at the buzzer to send Syracuse's Sweet 16 game against Georgia into overtime Friday night."
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  88. ^ < GOOD SIGNS in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. "03.maewest | | Forgotten New YorkForgotten New York". Forgotten-ny.com. Retrieved 2016-03-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Woodhaven" entry in Encyclopedia of New York City by Vincent Seyfried, Edited by Kenneth T. Jackson. New Haven, Yale University Press. 1995 as presented on site of Congressman Anthony D. Weiner
  • Woodhaven and Union Course entries in Old Queens, N.Y. in Early Photographs by Vincent F. Seyfried, William Asadorian
  • 1870 maps of Woodhaven (west) and (east)
  • "WOODHAVEN, Queens". Forgotten New York. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2015-08-25.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°41′28″N 73°51′09″W / 40.691°N 73.8525°W / 40.691; -73.8525