Since the 1860s (yes the EIGHTEEN sixties) the Woodside neighborhood of Queens, New York has been a magnet for immigrants. The mid 19th century boom of immigration was fueled by large-scale housing developments that were quickly occupied by newly emigrated Irish families. This helped turn the area from a country farming village into the more highly concentrated suburban community that it is now.
Today in 2018, the Woodside neighborhood of Queens is home to about 85,000 people, with nearly 30% of the population being of Thai, Korean, Chinese and Filipino decent.
At about 13,000 strong, Filipino Americans make up nearly 15% of Woodside’s total population.
The area known as New York’s Little Manila runs along the main business corridor on Roosevelt Avenue from 61rst thru 70th street. This stretch is appropriately named so due to the high concentration of Filipino businesses here. In fact, it is not uncommon in Woodside to walk passed many signs that are written in Tagalog.
Visitors will hear and feel the rumble of the number 7 train from the elevated platforms that run above Roosevelt Ave. Reminiscent of the MRT running above EDSA near Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong.
In both locations, you’ll find street vendors, owner-run restaurants, lawyer’s offices, shipping and remittance services, pharmacies, and a grocery store. Each of these businesses have deep roots tied to the local community, and most families in the neighborhood are multi-generational.
There are also two more, well-recognized businesses that these locations have in common, and that is a Red Ribbon bakery and a Jollibee. These Filipino chains recognize that Woodside has had a stable and growing Pinoy population since the early 1960’s; and it continues to grow today. In fact, the Greater New York Metropolitan Area, which also includes northern New Jersey, is the home to about 260,000 Fil-Ams.
While the State of New Jersey has greater population numbers, people come from much further away to visit Woodside, as it is conveniently located along the major transit corridor between Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island.
The familiar sights, smells, and taste of BBQ pork at Ihawan restaurant instantly transports you back to the Philippine islands. The pork’s flavor is dominated by the signature sweet/ savory signature of Filipino barbecue, and the accompanying cup of white rice invites you to eat Kamayan style rather the using the provided utensils.
There’s lots here to eat, drink and explore. I will definitely be back and write more articles on Woodside, New York.