We missed our city while we’ve been sheltering at home: we missed all the different neighborhoods, cuisines, languages and histories of the five boroughs. We’re starting to peek out the door a bit, we still can’t experience our city in full. So we’re going to take our followers on a tour of 10 NYC neighborhoods where we’ve built. We’ll feature our projects, the history and culture of the neighborhood, and some fun facts along the way.
Welcome to Woodside, Queens! Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area on the planet, but did you know that it’s also the most linguistically diverse, with at least 138 languages spoken throughout the borough?
Like the rest of Queens, Woodside is home to New Yorkers of many cultures. The neighborhood was once the largest Irish community in Queens, and is still filled with Irish pubs. Today, Woodside is also home to New Yorkers of Thai, Korean, Filipino, Bahraini, Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani, Dominican, Colombian and Ecuadorian background!
One of Woodside’s most famous ethnic enclaves is Little Manilla, which stretches from 63rd-71st Streets on Roosevelt Avenue, and is bursting with Filipino food and music. The name ‘Little Manila’ stuck in the neighborhood after the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Many Filipino healthcare workers immigrated to Woodside, which is not far from Elmhurst Hospital where many of them found work. One Filipino-owned small business in Woodside is Richard Mendoza’s Filthy Rich Barbershop, which brings in big-name clients like Drake, Big Sean and Flo Rida! Mendoza’s customers are known to fly into LaGuardia Airport just for a haircut!
Another local landmark also famous for its awesome customers? The Habitat NYC ReStore! Opened in 2015, our first ReStore is located at 62-01 Northern Blvd. The ReStore accepts donations of new and gently used furniture, appliances and more, and sells them to public at up to 80% off their original price.
Our customers may not fly into LaGuardia just for the deals, but one of the ReStore’s most dedicated volunteers, Ben W., is an @EndeavorAir pilot! “Knowing I’m making a difference at ReStore is what really drives me. I don’t see where these donations go, whether it’s a single mom who just bought a house and needs a couch, or a family who’s barely making ends meet and trying to save money on furnishings, it’s nice to know I’m contributing to the lives of families across New York.” (Learn more about Ben here)
Some of the items in the ReStore come from our amazing partners – including Junk Luggers, AJ Madison, Ethan Allen, WeWork, Overstock, the New York Times, Apartment Therapy, Columbia University and more!
Due to #COVID19, we closed the store in mid-March, but we were thrilled to celebrate our re-opening on July 1! All customers and associates are required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing practices. Associates will sanitize the store frequently, and the number of customers and time spent in the store will be limited.
Even though we were closed for more than three months, our ReStore donation trucks were not sitting idle! This spring, we teamed up with the Hungry Monk Rescue Truck, a Queens-based organization that fights food insecurity and homelessness. Two of our drivers, Sean and Antonio, hit the road, picking up food donations from Whole Foods, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Direct Resorts World Casino, GOYA, and even the New York Mets!
Once Hungry Monk volunteers (including some Habitat NYC staff!) sort the food into bags or meals, Sean and Antonio delivery to New Yorkers in need. They have delivered to hundreds of families, as well as Brooklyn Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital and even Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office!
Since the ReStore opened nearly 5 years ago, we have diverted more than 2,100 TONS of waste from landfills. And with our all-electric donation pick-up truck from the New York State Attorney General, we’re keeping our city cleaner and greener!
Speaking of green, you may be wondering where Woodside got its plant-based name. It’s hard to imagine, but two hundred years ago, Queens was filled with rolling pastures and dense woodlands. Woodside was widely known in 1700’s NYC as a woody marsh; swampy and filled with wolves! In fact, the area was once known as Wolf Swamp! We don’t know about you, but we much prefer “Woodside.” One survivor of this long-ago era in Queens remains – a giant beech tree on 63rd Street, between Woodside Avenue and Queens Boulevard. Some historians think the tree was planted during the Revolutionary War!
After the area was drained, farmers grew all sorts of fruits, vegetables and even flowers in Woodside, and sold them to the markets in Manhattan. It was known as one of the most beautiful areas in the whole city! In fact, Northern Blvd., the modern street where you can find the ReStore, closely follows a historic road that connected the farmers of Woodside to the East River Ferry, where they could sell produce in Manhattan.
Woodside did eventually grow into an urban community (no word on where the wolves went…), and today is a mix of single-family homes, co-ops, apartment buildings and NYCHA developments. We worked with our partners at NYCHA to revitalize the Woodside Community Center through our A Brush with Kindness program!
Woodside is a diverse, hard-working community – one of the best examples of the New York City spirit! We are so proud to be part of this neighborhood, and look forward to serving the community in as many capacities as we can, for as long as we can!