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Woodside organization keeps neighborhood vibrant

Woodside was founded in the 1600s as Newtown and named by John Kelly in the 1800s, when it began to grow with the coming of the Long Island Rail Road. Woodside was a mix of estates, farms and cemeteries. With the building of the elevated train (No. 7) after World War I, along with a demand for affordable housing, Woodside’s population exploded.

Woodside on the Move began in September 1976 as the successor to WinWood Neighborhood Association. With the nation’s bicentennial and the city’s ’70s fiscal crisis, WOTM had its work cut out for it. Founded by a number of community activists including Kevin and Walter Mahon, Rita Brady, Ed Fowley and Martin Trainor, this community group decided to focus on five areas to revitalize the Woodside community: housing, business, youth, culture and employment.

Today, WOTM continues to deliver these social services to the residents and businesses in northeast Queens.

Woodside, the geographical center of New York City, housed the working-class families coming from Manhattan in the 1920s, mostly Irish and German. Today Irish, Mexican, Colombian, Korean, Filipino and Thai call Woodside home.

The area also is home to several unique features. Some of the wonders of Woodside include Irish pubs with a hearty Irish welcome and brogue; several ethnic specialties from Europe, Asia and the Americas; a transit hub that connects Manhattan, Queens, Long Island and the Rockaways; large, 100-year-old cemeteries such as Calvary, St. Michael’s and Mt. Zion; and the Rockaway Beach express bus.

The future of Woodside has its challenges — affordable housing, quality education, public safety and health and racial tolerance, to name a few.

WOTM is prepared to meet the future. Landlords, tenants, homeowners, seniors, youth, immigrants, business owners, merchants, artists and the unemployed all are assisted with a myriad of programs and services. New incentives including tourism, business retention and artist galleries are keeping Woodside fresh and vibrant.

Community events such as seasonal holiday concerts, summer street fairs, after-school and summer youth programs and parades bring the people of Woodside closer together.

Thomas Ryan is the executive director of Woodside on the Move. This series is provided by the Queens Economic Development Corp

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