Woodhaven, NYC

Woodhaven is a neighborhood in Queens, NYC. I will provide a bit of factual information about it, but more importantly, I will provide my experience growing up here.

Woodhaven is a part of southwest Queens. Its borders are:
Forest Park to the north
Atlantic Avenue to the south (adjacent to Ozone Park)
102nd Street to the east (adjacent to Richmond Hill)
Elderts Lane to the west (adjacent to Cypress Hills, Brooklyn)

The major roads are Woodhaven Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue. The J subway line runs along Jamaica Avenue and stops at Woodhaven Boulevard, 85th Street, and Elderts Lane in Woodhaven; the train takes passengers to either Jamaica or Broad Street in Lower Manhattan. The neighborhood is also served by the following buses:
Q56 – Jamaica Avenue (from Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to 171st Street in downtown Jamaica)
Q11 – Woodhaven Boulevard (from Hamilton/Howard Beach to the Queens Center Mall)
QM15, QM16, QM17 – Woodhaven Boulevard (express buses to Manhattan)
QM23 – Jamaica Avenue (express bus to Manhattan)

Woodhaven is a mostly residential neighborhood in Queens on the border of Brooklyn. It contains mostly single and two family homes and a small number of apartment complexes. Most of the commercial activity in the neighborhood occurs along its main strips. One is Jamaica Avenue, a noisy narrow street lined with discount stores, small restaurants, take out places, and an increasing number of chain stores. Atlantic Avenue is home to convenience stores and a shopping plaza containing a Pathmark, a Pizza Hut, and some small stores.

There are two public elementary schools – PS 60 and PS 97. Junior high school students must go to IS 210 in nearby Ozone Park. The area’s zoned high school is Franklin K. Lane, which is on the border of Woodhaven and Brooklyn. Elementary schools in the area have become increasingly overcrowded, and some Woodhaven children must be bussed out to other areas. There are also two Catholic elementary schools (St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Elizabeth’s), and many parents choose to send their children there, even if they are not Catholic. Many Woodhaven teenagers attend parochial high schools in other neighborhoods.

Entertainment in Woodhaven is, in my opinion, lacking. There is Forest Park and its playgrounds and basketball courts for the young ones, but there is virtually no nightlife. Woodhaven currently lacks movie theatres, bowling alleys, and arcades. There are a few restaurants that occassionally host live music or international sporting events, but there is a huge lack of cafes. Residents must go elsewhere for most of their entertainment.

The local business landscape has changed radically within the past fifteen years. The two branches of Lewis’ general store (one on Forest Parkway and the other on 92nd street on Jamaica Avenue) are gone, as are Shopper’s Corner, the Empire Diner, Tony’s Italian deli, and the Wicker Baron. Pop’s, a diner that has been in the neighborhood since 1907, had a renovation a few years ago that stripped it of much of it’s antique charm. As the ethnic demographic of Woodhaven has changed, many businesses catering to Latinos have opened up, including a number of restaurants that feature Latin American cuisine.

After a brief decline in the mid to late 1990s, home prices have soared in Woodhaven, as has the speed and character of home renovations. Recently, the site of the former St. Anthony’s hospital was replaced with a development of homes that sold for approximately $600,000 a home!

As real estate value around New York City soars, the distant Queens neighborhood of Woodhaven is enjoying a boom in popularity. There is the drawback of a lengthy, if direct, commute to Manhattan on the J train (the ride is about 50 minutes, excluding wait times). However, it is conveniently located near a number of major highways and close to JFK International Airport. If Woodhaven can provide more wholesome entertainment for its youth and successful attractions for young adults, it will continue to grow and prosper.

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