by Kevin Walsh

When I last did a general walkabout in Woodhaven, it was all the way back in 2007, so there’s a little catching up to do. One of the more successful Forgotten NY tours was in this very neighborhood in June 2015, so I’ll use some of the notes from that day for this survey. I’ll repeat some material from my previous page as well as some new material I have discovered since then, and use all new photos for this page.

A little background:

Woodhaven and Ozone Park were settled in the 1600s by Dutch and English settlers, who gradually eased out Native Americans; Woodhaven became a racing hotbed in the 1820s when Union Course, at what is now Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Blvd. was built in 1820s. Centerville and Aqueduct Race Tracks would follow.

From the 1830s to the 1850s, what is now East New York and Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, and Woodville, Queens, were developed by Connecticut businessman John Pitkin.  To avoid confusion by the Post Office with an upstate New York State town in the days before zip codes, Woodville residents voted to change Woodville’s name to Woodhaven in 1853.

Famous former residents of Woodhaven include: actor Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”),  composer George Gershwin (“Porgy and Bess,” “Rhapsody in Blue”), pop star Brian Hyland (“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”), showman Danny Kaye (“Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and many others), and actor Barry Sullivan (“The Bad and the Beautiful”).

Two French immigrants, 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.


The former Cross Bay Theatre, 94-11 Rockaway Boulevard, at the junction of two of Queens’ busiest, pedal to the metal thoroughfares: Rockaway Boulevard, which connects Brooklyn with the Five Towns of Nassau County, and Woodhaven Boulevard, which roars from Queens Center on Queens Boulevard across Jamaica Bay to the peninsula. Here at Liberty Avenue at the border of Ozone Park, it changes monikers from Woodhaven to Cross Bay Boulevard.

The theatre itself opened in December 1924 and remained open as a 3-screener until June 23, 2005. Like the Dyker on 86th Street in Bay Ridge, it became a Modells Sporting Goods store. One of the only relics of its time as a theater is the cornerstone reading 1924.


Attached houses on Woodhaven Boulevard north of Liberty Avenue. Note the intricate, two-toned brickwork. The porch is likely  a later addition replacing an original.


You come to a fork in the road walking north on the east side of Woodhaven Boulevard. This is 95th Street, which takes an odd, crescent-shaped course from here at 103rd Avenue north to 95th Avenue.


It’s also the original course of the road that became Woodhaven Boulevard. This 1909 map (north is at left; I’ve added modern road names) shows what was called Woodhaven and earlier, one of the many roads in Queens named Flushing Avenue, snaking through the area. When the 8-lane Woodhaven Boulevard was laid out in the 1920s, it followed what was originally Walker Avenue, but the older road was left in place, and was renamed 95th Street when the streets were numbered during that decade.


Oddly enough, an area’s churches, liquor stores, beauty parlors, and drugstores preserve a neighborhood’s old character as well as any other institutions. Retail establishments emphasize the trendy and the new, making them less likely to retain any artifacts, or look the same as they did decades ago. Lacking a cornerstone, I don’t know the United Presbyterian Church of Ozone Park at 101st Avenue and 94th Street’s age, and like many churches and schools, it’s hard to find architectural information online.


Single and double houses dominate the side streets of Woodhaven, like this one at 95-20 93rd Street. That is likely the original porch, while the striped aluminum window shades give it an old-fashioned look.

One of the most impressive structures in Woodhaven is the Wyckoff Apartments. There are plenty of other buildings with ornate cupolas and towers in New York City, but this one seems all the more impressive because it is unique in Woodhaven…there’s no other building like it in the area. Its former Moorish-style conical dome, now sadly removed, made it a veritable skyscraper. The dome may have been removed, but there’s still enough detail on this 110-year old building to make it one of Woodhaven’s treasures; its cornices and eaves have not been lost to development. It was originally the home office for the Woodhaven Bank.

About a block away at Atlantic Avenue and 92nd street is another impressive relic, the clock tower of the offices of the old Lalance & Grosjean (pronounced Gro-zhan) manufacturing facility.

Just as piano manufacturer William Steinway built a small community to house his factory workers in northern Astoria, so did Lalance & Grosjean, the nationally renowned manufacturer that was among the first to make porcelain enamelware, a cheaper, lighter alternative to heavy cast-iron cookware under their brand name, “Agate Ware.” L&G set up business in 1863, and by 1876 had built a large kitchenware factory on Atlantic Avenue between today’s 89th to 92nd Streets, and workers’ housing on 95th and 97th Avenues between 85th and 86th Streets that remains there today.

The firm gradually expanded into a variety of products, including housewares, champagne, tinware, sheet metal and hardware. L&G became a nationally renowned manufacturer that was among the first to make porcelain enamelware, a cheaper, lighter alternative to heavy cast-iron cookware, under their brand name, “Agate Ware.” In addition to cookware L&G was one of the biggest names in tin stamping and license plate manufacturing. After sales declined in the 1950s, however, L&G went out of business.

In the 1980s, most of the Lalance & Grosjean red-brick factory buildings were razed in favor of a large Pathmark supermarket. In a similar situation to the Tower Square trolley barn at Northern Boulevard and Woodside Avenue, the clock tower, at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 92nd Street, has somehow made it through the years, and is one of Queens’ best representatives of the form.

Several miles west on Atlantic Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, two cul-de-sacs, Alice and Agate Courts, were part of a real estate development by Florian Grosjean; he named them after his daughter, Alice Marie, and the agate ware on which he made his fortune.


The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society has erected a series of handsome blue and gold signs marking buildings of note in the area. They were modeled to resemble the metal signs placed by New York State in the 1930s marking such buildings. I have a series of the surviving and nonsurviving NYS signs on this FNY page.

Photographed just after Memorial Day 2015, the crosses and Stars of David symbolizing war casualties were an impressive sight in the Garden of Remembrance at  American Legion Post #118 on 92nd Street and 89th Avenue. The post has been here since 1941.

I have a number of photos of St. Thomas The Apostle Church at 88th Avenue and 87th Street, as I was quite impressed with the architecture. St. Thomas’ handsome brick structure was erected in 1921 and features gorgeous colorful terra cotta banding and medallions. It was built to resemble a Bavarian country church, as in the early 20th Century most of its parishioners were German. Its onion spire can be recognized from several blocks away. The parish was founded in 1909 by Father Andrew Klarmann, whose name was appended to the adjoining parish center.

Some Catholic churches were wealthy enough to build the equivalent of small towns in addition to the churches proper. St. Thomas Church is accompanied by the priests’ and nuns’ residences as well as the Klarmann Memorial and the peaked and gabled Msgr. Chichester Center. One of the church’s former pastors, Fr. Joseph Martusciello, is remembered on a street sign at 88th Avenue and 88th Street. He was also a principal of my old high school, Cathedral Prep.

Angels’ faces peer out from the tops of columns at the Chichester Center entrance.


Jimmy Young Place remembers a local firefighter who died fighting a blaze in Manhattan in March 1994.

The corner of 87th and 88th doesn’t rate an actual stoplight, but an amber-flashing Cyclops has been installed on a telephone pole. A fire alarm and a now-nonfunctioning orange indicator lamp also are mounted on the pole.

In early 2015, an announcement was made about the closure of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church at 85th Street and 87th Road, and its congregation transferred, along with an other church, to a Brooklyn congregation. I do not know what will happen with this handsome blond-bricked church building, opened in 1910.

At the corner of 78th Street and 88th Avenue (formerly Snedeker, Snediker, or Sneideicker Avenue, depending on what map you consult, and 3rd Avenue), stands one of New York City’s oldest taverns, Neir’s, opened in 1855 (or 1829, depending on what account you read; the tavern itself says 1829) as The Pump Room, or Old Blue Pump House, to serve Union Course patrons.

The tavern stands just west of the grounds of the grounds of a former race track.

“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 (race consisting of as many heats as were necessary to determine a winner, gave way to programs consisting of several races. Match races between horses from the South against those from the North drew crowds as high as 70,000. Several hotels (including the Snedeker Hotel and the Forschback Inn) were built in the area to accommodate the racing crowds.” wikipedia

Though Neir’s is one of the oldest drinking establishments in the city — even if it was founded in 1855, that puts it only a year or two younger than the purported age of McSorley’s in the East Village — it gets little notice or press outside of Queens. The founder was Cadwallader Colden, and that name might raise a scintilla of recognition for New York State history scholars: his great-grandfather, who had the same name, was acting governor of NY State and mayor of NYC in the colonial era. The Neir’s name comes from Louis Neir, who purchased the place in 1898, adding a bowling alley, ballroom, and rooms for rent upstairs.

Entertainer Mae West’s (1893-1980) name is attached to a number of institutions in Brooklyn, notably the Astral Apartments and Teddy’s in Greenpoint and North Williamsburg, and she is said to have begun her showbiz career singing here; a plaque marks her former home on 88th Street. At times, patrons say the ghost of Mae can sometimes still be seen here. Her association with Neir’s has been disputed, however. What is indisputable is that several scenes of Martin Scorsese’s mob epic Goodfellas, with Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta, were filmed here, and scenes from other recent features as well.

Owner Loy Gordon and the staff welcomed FNY and friends warmly during a February 2015 presentation here, and also after the Woodhaven tour in June 2015. Personally, I’ve judged the burger as Queens’ best and perhaps NYC’s.


One day, I’ll get around to doing a feature about the neighborhood business district signs that have been installed all over town. This one appears on Jamaica Avenue in the 70s and 80s streets.


Vertical neon sign for a long-gone flower shop on Jamaica Avenue east of 80th Street. The florist is now one of two fingernail salons that are side by side.

An interesting small church, All Nations Baptist Church, at 80th Street and 87th Avenue. Services are in Spanish; the church was likely founded under a different name. The cornerstone notes the founding date of the original church (1897) and the construction of the present building (1910).

A historic sign placed by the Woodhaven Historical Society in a Compare Foods parking lot commemorates an earlier supermarket founded on this site by Fred Christ (pronounced “krist”) Trump, who developed affordable middle class housing in NYC, much of it in Coney Island, where Trump Village still carries his name. His son Donald, of course, needs no introduction.

Another supermarket parking lot (C-Town), another historic sign. Dexter Park began as a small sandlot-type field surrounded by playgrounds, bowling alleys, a carousel and a dance hall. Rosner founded the Bushwicks in 1913 and moved to Dexter Park in 1918, and it soon expanded to a 15,000-seat park with a steel and concrete grandstand. Rosner installed lights in 1930– a full five years before they arrived at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, and 8 years before Ebbets. Players from the AL, NL and the old Negro Leagues, some of which are named on the historic marker, played exhibition games against the Bushwicks after their regular seasons had ended, and Rosner signed Dazzy Vance and Waite Hoyt after their MLB careers ended.

After the 1940s, though, the arrival of television and the slow integration of the major leagues (decimating the Negro Leagues) took a toll on the Bushwicks’ attendance, and Rosner disbanded the team. After a few desultory years as a stock car venue, Dexter Park was razed in 1955, with two-family homes now occupying the site. The name “Dexter Court,” the sign, and the memories of players who are fewer in number as the years go by are all that’s left. Brooklyn regained pro baseball in 2000 with the arrival of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ A affiliate, in Coney Island.


The parking lot has retained a single vintage lamppost with a fixture resembling the old Westinghouse OV20, but not quite the same; it could also be a Line Material Ovalite.


Rusty lamppost on Dexter Court. After a shaft reaches a certain level of rust, the NYC Department of Transportation no longer considers it effective to repaint it.


Briefly crossing the undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, the former Franklin K. Lane High School’s tower looms over the former Brooklyn City Line. When built in 1923 and named for the Secretary of the Interior under President Woodrow Wilson, it was one of the largest high schools in the world. Over the decades it gained notoriety as one of the city’s toughest. After the graduating class of 2012 it was split into five separate schools: The Academy of Innovative Technology, The Brooklyn Lab School, Cypress Hill Prep Academy, The Urban Assembly School for Collaborative Healthcare, and Multicultural High School.

Among its alumni are Red Holzman, the only coach to pilot the New York Knicks to titles (1970, 1973) and actress Anne Jackson.

Heading east again at Jamaica Avenue the former offices of the Leader-Observer can be seen at #80-30. The newspaper was founded in 1909.


Forest Parkway

Forest Parkway, one of Queens’ best-kept architectural secrets, was developed as a showpiece of sorts as Woodhaven was being developed in the early 20th Century:

This, the only 80-foot wide residential street in Woodhaven, marked the center of the Forest Parkway development of 1900. Though only six blocks long, Forest Parkway was macadamized from the start, and big homes on 40-foot minimum lots were built to line itgs length. Many of these survive today as doctors’ and dentists’ offices. A few are still private residences. –Vincent Seyfried

The exterior of Woodhaven’s post office, built in 1940 on Forest Parkway just north of Jamaica Avenue, may look somewhat utilitarian and mundane, but it is a prime example of the streamlined Art Moderne style, with its enameled panels. A look inside will reward you with a view of a Works Progress Administration mural by Ben Shahn.

This building, 86-20 Forest Parkway, was the first building to be designated under the Queensmark program.

According to the NY Times, the program was begun by the Queens Historical Society in 1996. Designated members of the selection committee survey historic or architecturally interesting neighborhoods, seeking buildings worthy of recognition, and this building was the first chosen under its aegis. unfortunately, a Queensmark does not carry the official weight that a NYC Landmarks Commission designation does, so this building could be easily torn down if sold to a developer.


Another of Forest Parkway’s finest at 86-08.


Forest Parkway is also home to a couple of magnificent apartment complexes such as Forest Chateau at 85-50 across the street from the Woodhaven Library.

In 1901, the Scottish philanthopist/industrialist Andrew Carnegie Foundation gave $5.2 million to New York City for its libraries across the five boroughs. This started a remarkable project that would go on to build 1,680 Carnegie libraries across the United States and another 800 plus in Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the world. In NYC, Carnegie gave to the boroughs according to population. Since Queens was the least populated borough at the time, they got the least amount of money. The Queens Library trustees were able to go to Carnegie himself and present a plan that gave them more money, enabling the library to build seven of the eight libraries planned for the borough.

Carnegie paid for the buildings, but the city would have to buy or acquire the land, buy the books, and provide for maintenance and upkeep, in perpetuity. Carnegie helped set up the library commissions and boards.

The Woodhaven branch of the QPL was the last building to be constructed under the Carnegie aegis, opening January 5, 1924. The architect was  Robert F. Schirmer, who with J.W. Schmidt also designed the Library’s central building in 1927, which is now the Queens Family Courthouse (seen on this FNY page).

While her tree grew in Brooklyn, Betty Smith, neé Elisabeth Wehner (1896-1972), largely wrote the novel, which takes place in nearby Cypress Hills, Brooklyn,  in this beautiful Colonial Revival house with a very unsual fence treatment at 85-34 on Forest Parkway near Jamaica Avenue. She herself lived in Williamsburg and attended Girls’ High School, where her childhood experiences influenced her book.

Before leaving Forest Parkway here’s a couple other of the street’s notable residences.

An actual New York State Education Department sign from 1936 was installed in front of this Queen Anne building at Park Lane South and 85th Street, not a new Woodhaven Historical Society sign. It doesn’t designate this building, however; it designates the first building in Queens to be numbered under the street and house numbering plan instituted by the Queens Topographical Bureau in the 1910s. The building stood on the opposite corner across 85th Street but has since been demolished.

Many years ago, when Queens was a collection of small towns divided by acres of farms and fields, every town and city had its own street naming and numbering system. This was all right when Queens (then also comprising what is now Nassau County) was a separate and self-governing county. Once Queens consolidated with New York City and subsequently became slowly urbanized, this was a situation that could not be allowed to stand as a plethora of Washington Streets, Main Streets, and 1st and 2nd Streets found themselves in the same street directory in the city ledgers.

And so, the Queens Topographical Bureau, under the guidance of C. U. Powell, was set the task of unifying Queens’ street system in the 1910s. To do this just about every street in Queens was assigned a number, except those in historic areas such as Flushing; some existing major roads kept their names, but were assigned the honorific Boulevard or Parkway to replace what was a mere Avenue or Road; the Jackson Avenue – Broadway combination was renamed Northern Boulevard, for example, while Little Neck Road became Little Neck Parkway. Numbered Avenues, Roads, Drives and Courts run east-west, while Streets, Places, Lanes and Terraces run north-south. Streets run from 1 to 271, and Avenues from 2 to 165: why Queens does not have a 1st Avenue is a mystery.

Queens also has a unique way of designating house numbers: the first one, two or three digits are the street number while the last two, separated with a hyphen, are numbered between that numbered street and the next. For example 95-01 would be at the corner of 95th Street while 95-35 would be at the corner of the next street, 96th, while the house numbers would begin anew with 96-01.


Forest Park

Though Queens has hundreds of acres of parkland, Forest, Kissena and Cunningham Parks usually take a backseat to Flushing Meadows Park, with its collection of corroding, deteriorating remnants of two World’s Fairs. Forest Park is up there among NYC’s biggest parks, with over 500 acres stretching between the cemetery belt, Kew Gardens, Union Turnpike and Glendale and Park Lane South in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. It forms a natural boundary between communities in northern Queens (Glendale and Forest Hills) and their southern cousins. I confess to not having extensively explored Forest Park as much as I have, say, Central and Prospect Parks, and Forest Park makes no pretense of matching the cultural aspects of those two Olmsted and Vaux creations, though it has its moments.

Forest Park was actually created by the city of Brooklyn in 1895, with the city’s Parks Department buying up acres of forested, pretty much unused property, hence the name. It’s among the more ‘natural’ of our big parks, with about 165 acres left as woodland, interspersed with marked trails.

The park was surveyed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the co-developer of Central and Prospect Parks and much like the parks and natural reserves of Staten Island, Forest Park contains several nature trails ‘blazed’ or marked for the ease of hikers, and also boasts a bridle path.

I followed a park path from Park Lane South and 86th Street into the park, which quickly joins the vehicular Forest Park Drive, Coming into view almost immediately is…


The Seuffert Bandshell, named for George Seuffert, Sr., a popular musician and band leader, stands near the spot where he and his band first began offering Sunday afternoon concerts to the public in 1898. In 1928, Seuffert’s son, Dr. George Seuffert, took over and led hundreds of concerts featuring music by Wagner, John Philip Sousa, Cole Porter and many others. When he died in 1995 the Queens Symphony Orchestra took over the tradition of offering summer concerts there. Other nights have been added in recent years: kids events’ on Monday nights, rock on Thursdays and Fridays, and classical on Sundays. The bandshell was built in 1920 and renovated 80 years later.

Strack Pond, accessible from a short path to the right of the bandshell, was named for Pfc Laurence Strack, the first Woodhaven soldier killed in Vietnam. The Lindsay administration attempted to build some ballfields here in the 1960s, but the swampy ground would not cooperate, so at length, the Parks Department constructed a pond on the same site. While not a natural pond, it nevertheless provides a small area of peace and serenity in a busy part of the park.

Every year, it seems, sees the closing of more of New York’s classic carousels, but Forest Park’s, just off Woodhaven Boulevard south of Myrtle, is still delighting kids big and small as it has since it was moved here from Dracut, Massachusetts, in 1971. This Daniel Muller carousel, built in 1903 and containing 54 wood horses and other animals, is one of just two remaining in the country. It replaced an earlier carousel that burnt down in 1966. The carousel contains 49 horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer, and two chariots arranged in three concentric circles. The carousel also contains an original carousel band organ. It’s a buck a ride for all ages.

Six other New York City parks operate carousels: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Central Park and Bryant Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, East River Park in DUMBO, and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island. The B&B Carousell in Coney Island, shuttered since 2003, reopened for business in 2014 on the boardwalk.

From here it’s a short walk to Woodhaven Boulevard for the Q53 or Q11 buses, or you can do what our Woodhaven tour did and walk back to Neir’s for a few beers and lunch.



Yvonne Temann November 8, 2015 - 11:47 am

Thank you for the photo of my alma mater, Franklin K. Lane High School. Other famous alumni include Sam Levenson, Jose Greco, Franklin Thomas, Earle Hyman and Alfred Kazin.

Lane Knights Live Forever.

“We shall be true to her and fight for the Dear Old Blue and Gray.”

Richard Walter January 3, 2018 - 10:49 am

Is it true that John Gotti was schooled at Franklin K Lane? I lived on 76th Street in my youth.

Jim Beck February 23, 2018 - 10:15 pm

Hi Richard W. , cousin Jim Beck here . From what I have read John Gotti attended Lane for several years and either left or tossed out before graduation . Lots of activity in Lane during the 1950s , just 4 blocks from our homes . Interesting , after getting married many decades ago , the first apartment my wife and I had was in Howard Beach . For a long time unaware John G. lived 4 blocks from us there also . Hey we also both lived just 4 blocks from Brian Hyland in Woodhaven .

Susan Mathews August 21, 2018 - 7:32 pm

my brother delivered the Long Island Press to their house. We lived on 75th St.

Phil October 1, 2018 - 12:05 am

Yes gotti went to Lane, but he dropped out at 16. I graduated from Lane in 1967, was a good school in those days.

John P. Simonetti November 8, 2015 - 12:36 pm

Excellent piece, Kevin..

You never cease to amaze me with the depth of your research..

Keep ’em coming !

chris November 8, 2015 - 3:59 pm

You can sure get a edumacation in architectural terms like eaves and cornices and cupolas,etc.
looking at FNY

Tom Walsh November 8, 2015 - 4:59 pm

Went to Neir’s to watch a Series game (great place to watch a game), the one the Mets won. Have to agree about the burgers. Cheese steak got high marks, too. It’s a place all Forgotteners really should support.

Frank November 9, 2015 - 1:09 pm

This was once a beautiful neighborhood. It’s a shame that it has turned. Crime is rampant and the new residents do not take care of the historical treasures like we used to. Great piece though. It brought back a lot of good memories.

Fred November 10, 2015 - 4:20 am

Thank you very much for this rich and varied portrait of Woodhaven. I grew up in Richmond Hill, but often visited my paternal grandparents and maternal aunt and uncle who lived in Woodhaven. As with other viewers, your excellent photographs brought back many memories.

Walt Popp March 7, 2016 - 11:16 pm

It was wonderful to see these photos and read the descriptions. It’s been a few years since I’ve been back in Woodhaven. My father was born in Woodhaven and I grew up there in the 50s and 60s and attended St. Thomas Apostle School. My grandparents opened the 2nd oldest tavern in Woodhaven in the the early 1900s on corner of Jamaica Ave. and 86th St. It was converted to an ice cream parlor during prohibition and was called Popps. It was sold in 1980 or so, but still exists as far as I know under the name Pops.

Jim Beck October 15, 2017 - 10:09 pm

Hi Walt and all , I chatted a while back with you , as well a brother and cousin all in my age group … One near Atlanta , another in Wisconsin another on Long Island not far from me . Not sure if my Beck grandparents ever knew the Popps , but as newlyweds lived just a block from the ice cream parlor in 1910 , but staying in Woodhaven until my grandfather’s passing in 1979 , on 75 St. , at age 100. Always good to return to our old town for my St. Thomas 1960 reunion or an event at Neirs . Sometimes getting back for a wake for an old friend or classmate. Woodhaven forever .

Susan Mathews August 21, 2018 - 7:47 pm

Where did your grandparent live on 75th St. I grew up there just off 75th &Rockaway Blvd in the 50’s &60s.

ED May 3, 2019 - 7:53 am

Hi Walt. I graduated with you from St Thomas Apostle. I went to high school with your cousin Al at St John’s Prep in Brooklyn. Took a number of dates to Popps. Growing up in Woodhaven and dating a girl from Woodhaven we frequented the two Schmidt’s Ice Parlor, Popps, Myers all on Jamaica Ave, the Willard, Haven and Roosevelt movie theatres. The Roosevelt was bought by St Thomas Apostle and converted to an Auditorium for Sunday Mass and other events including CYO basketball games I played on Friday nights. And as right of passage we graduated socially to the bars Neirs, Sheehans and the Circus. Everything was in walking distance, people knew each other even if they were not friends. You were familiar with people who lived in the area. Truly a close community. I left after high school for college and the Army, but my mother live in the same apartment from 1945 to 1993. I was fortunate to return to Woodhaven many times but witnessed the changing landscape over those years. Growing up I remember how crowded and busy Jamaica Avenue was, people sitting on porches in front of their homes on summer nights, kids hanging out and on corners. A much simpler time.

Sue Tucker Landsman August 23, 2017 - 12:17 pm

I lived in Woodhaven since I was born (1936) but have been living in Massachusetts since the 1970s. Love your site. But, I am confused about one thing. There is a picture that is captioned “Wyckoff Apartments.” I lived in the Wyckoff Apartments (address was 90-19 88th Ave.), and the picture you show is not the Wyckoff Apartments. Were there two apartments in Woodhaven with the same name?? By the way, I now live in Woodhaven, south west of Boston, which is the name of my senior apartment complex. I am also curious about one other thing. Did Donald Trump ever live in Woodhaven?

Jim Beck October 15, 2017 - 10:26 pm

Sue , I knew several families who lived in the Wyckoff , the Capillos and Marinos . Did you attend STA ? My cousin Audrey Szorc did , she was born in 1935 and still on Long Island . I still do business with the Ohlert- Ruggiere people. To the PS 97 poster , my Mom was a PS 97 grad in 1934 , my Dad a STA 1931 grad. Re Donald Trump , he never lived in Woodhaven , born in 1946 when his family lived in Jamaica Estates. Still
some disagreement if his father Fred ( born in 1905) was either in Woodhaven or the Morrisania section of the Bronx. For a time the family was in the Bronx and resettled in Woodhaven and after a time back in Germany . The grandfather , also Fred , eventually built the grocery on Jamaica Ave. and 78 St., that many of us later knew for many decades as a King Kullen .

Sue Tucker Landsman April 12, 2018 - 2:09 am

Sorry for this late reply. Yes, Jim, I knew the Capillos and the Marinos. My close friend growing up was Jeanne Saunders who lived in the Wyckoff with her brother, Billy. Billy had a best friend, Anthony, and I have always wondered what his last name is. They all went to school at St. Thomas on 88th Avenue. I went to P.S.97 and then on to Franklin K. Lane, and then to Queens College. I was born in 1936. By the way, about eight years ago, we had a Wyckoff reunion, and all the “kids” that grew up together met at a restaurant in NYC for a reunion. People came from all over the U.S., and we had an absolutely great time! Love your site.

Sue Tucker Landsman April 12, 2018 - 2:19 am

Forgot to mention: I was close friends growing up with Bennett Rosner, grandson of Max Rosner of Dexter Park fame. I would go to the stock car races with Bennett and he would work in the pit. Also, I am related to the Lewis family (Lewis of Woodhaven) by marriage, as my cousin Lena who grew up in Curacao married Jeffrey Lewis.

Amanda September 2, 2018 - 4:09 pm

Hi Susan!

My father was born in 1936 and grew up in Woodhaven on 76th Street. He was good friends with Bennett Rosner and we were hoping to get a little info on him! would be great to speak to you if you get this… my email address is amanda@abso.com if you see this!

ANITA METZ September 18, 2017 - 11:36 am


John Jensen October 21, 2018 - 9:34 am

I graduated 8th grade at PS 97 in 1963. I still have my old autograph book somewhere. The school colors back then were green and gold. I remember doing the 60 yard dash on the south side of the school building. As I recall it was a slight hill. We took our graduation picture out back behind the school. I remember Mr McGovern as one of my teachers. Back then skinny ties were the thing, but if Mr McGivern caught you not wearing a tie, he had special 1940’s style wide ties that he’d make you wear! I seem to remember after school dances. I think the last song at the end of the dances was always God Bkess America. I live in Joplin, MO now. I’m on Facebook too. Please don’t hesitate to contact me! Jcjensen01@gmail.com

Sarah October 24, 2017 - 3:33 pm

Strack Pond is my favorite place to go, beautiful in all seasons. Forest park is truly a treasure and will always be the best.

Ray Adorno November 29, 2017 - 8:15 pm

Wow my mom said I would ride that caraselle the horse ride and I didn’t in wood haven but I did much more in ny I am so blessed to just have my family I took up around 1993 I have not visited home in a while but I came back home a couple years back some time around 2006-07 and back 2017 I hope to live or even own my old home when I don’t have the family no more just to have those good and bad times with me always love my family even if I left home around 1997

Gary Rothbaum December 27, 2021 - 3:38 pm

Thirty-five years ago, Mayor John Lindsay named two baseball fields in Forest Park after Pfc Laurence Strack, the first Woodhaven soldier killed in Vietnam. They were meant to be a living memorial to the 19-year-old, who loved Little League baseball.

Ray Adorno November 29, 2017 - 8:25 pm

I went to the church on 101 and 94 I been to p.s.60q I was at broadway and Jamaica ave I member the pizza guy I used to go to he gave a garlic bread knot to me and I thought it was magic that’s what he told me at least I member making a valentine card for a blond girl I was in class with I’m unsure of her name today my teacher thought me how to show love ❤️ from p.s.60q she thought me music with a recorder I love my blue recorder I think dad probably took it because he thought it was off the street floor

Margo December 19, 2017 - 10:08 pm

I moved to 88th Avenue at 85th Street at age 5 in 1947. My mother was a teacher at PS 60 a block or two up toward Jamaica Ave. The Highlights of shopping were of course Lewis’s and Triumph and Schiemans (?) Bakeries. a wholesale candy distributors and the Haven theater-so reeking with cigarette smoke that my clothes smelled for hours. The Roosevelt Theater was further the other way and had a “Matron” on Saturdays who herded all kids into the Left front rows, and prowled up and down. I went to St. Thomas Apostle from 1st to 8th grade, changing teachers-ALL nuns-in midyear -1A 1B etc. Another highlight was the Sunday evening trip to a delicatessen up near Forest Parkway for potato salad for dinner, with 2 or 3 neighbor kids. When I took my own two for a visit former neighbors kids and they made the same trip to the same deli. We ranged all over Forest Park alone and in gangs, the “Lake” was a centerpiece but swampy in spots. The old Carnegie Library on Forest Parkway had the Children’s room in the basement, with a fireplace I never saw lit, but at about age 9 the Librarian let me help at the desk and I moved up to actually Stamping Cards. It was a tragedy to hear many years later that it burned down. There was also a very old fashioned grocery store at 85th St and 87th avenue whose name escapes me- it was every kids independent shopping experience , even before we were allowed to “go up to the Avenue” On my last trip there, in 2010 we met a lady on the Subway who heard that I was a little worried how it would be- She said ” It hasn’t changed. Much more diverse ethnicities, but still a good neighborhood. ” Well it hadn’t even changed that way entirely- The woman neighbor I grew up with was still living across the street.

Jim Beck February 23, 2018 - 10:32 pm

Margo , just saw your post . I am just a little bit younger than you , and lived on 76 St. just south of 88 Ave. , so your loooong 88 Ave. block was on my walking route to St. Thomas Apostle School . I knew many families who would have lived near you , family names of Moran , Fanning , LaMarche , Kearns , Kulig , Kelly …. Any familiar ? I also recall that wooden PS60 , and witnessed its demolition , around 1960 ?

John Jensen October 21, 2018 - 9:36 am

I attended the old wooden PS 60!

Louise Munster June 29, 2018 - 7:08 pm

I was searching for info on the little wooden schoolhouse that was the original PS 60 and the red brick school of PS 65, now both long gone, when I came onto your site. I attended those schools from 1950 -1955 & then to PS 97 (off of Forest Pkwy) until graduation in 1959. Then on to Franklin K. Lane. We use to go to the movies at the Haven (with its dirty sticky floors); Roosevelt on Jamaica Ave,and further down the Avenue to the Willard. We hung out (as they called it then) on the streets near our homes, Forest Park or at the ice cream palours, as they were once known, like Schmitt’s or Pops on Jamaica Ave. and of course there was always the Pizza Places. Bars like the Circus didn’t enter our lives until much older. Your site was an interesting discovery !

Brenda July 21, 2018 - 8:17 am

Very nice job!

Azael July 28, 2018 - 5:06 am

Thanks a lot for all the great info. I’m currently working on a documentary where I’ll be exploring Woodhaven.

Elizabeth Sutter Reilly August 7, 2018 - 8:18 pm

Thank you for all the info re: Queens. My family moved to Mass. when I was 6. My Dad died when I was 11. His father Henry Sutter ran the family farm in Woodhaven. This property was probably started by my great-grandfather Charles Sutter. We lived in Ozone Park, Queens with my Aunt Lillian in Tudor Village. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Elizabeth Sutter Reilly

Charles Brama August 27, 2018 - 5:55 pm

Just happened to come across your site today, I was just thinking about going down memory lane when I saw this. We lived on 86th street between Jamaica Ave. & 88th Ave. just down the street from Popps. I went to STA, graduating in 1958, my sister, Irene, was 2 years ahead of me. When we were kids we hung out at places like Ruby’s candy store and Sal’s pizza, across the Ave. from Ruby’s. There are times I can almost taste the cheese and sauce on Sal’s pies, but being in Calif. makes it impossible to have one. Someday, before it’s too late I’m hoping to revisit the neighborhood. My father had a business on 76th and Jamaica, Brama-Weber & Co., where they made wire cable splices among other things, it was right across the Ave from Bruono’s restaurant. I left there in 1972 and have only been back once, about 20 years ago for just a short 2 hour visit. I remember all of the ball games we played in the street and when we felt big time we would go to Equity Park for stick ball, football, and even basketball on a dirt court, with holes in the dirt to make dribbling a real challenge. PS 65 was the shrine for stickball, you could play single bounce pitching with running the bases or if you wished you could play pitching to a chalked box and “automatics”. The games would go on for hours. I wonder if anyone else remembers all of the things that we did and the fun we had growing up?

John Jensen October 21, 2018 - 9:46 am

I lived directly across from Brama-Weber. 76-04 Jamaica Ave. I was two floors over Mr Beck the butcher, and directly next door to Bruno’s restaurant. Do you remember Louie’s grocery store and Bobs candy store? I think Bobs was like 76-06. I was a delivery boy at Dexter Park Pharmacy, better known as Bill’s drug store. And let’s not forget Olga’s Luncheonette! My brother in law, John Iadanza worked for a time at Johns Delicatessen between 75-76th street on the south side of Jamaica Ave. he married my sister something like 55 years ago at St Thomas. I went to the old wooden PS 60 my first year, then PS 65, PS 97, and Franklin K Lane. Would love to talk to anyone from my old neighborhood, especially those that remember the places I’ve mentioned!

karen a alduino September 11, 2018 - 1:02 pm

I lived in woodhaven Queens (we were located in an apartment close to the corner of jamaica ave and forest parkway over a men’s clothing store and the Chase Manahattan Bank was our landlord) from 1965 thru 1961 (I think). I attended PS97 for kindergarten (1955) and 1st grade (1956) then moved to St Thomas the Apostle on 88th for 2nd thru 5th grade. we moved to Long Island in summer of 1961. I am looking for some class photos from my classes during my years at PS97 and also St Thomas. can anyone help with that? also, I remember a family (the Dempseys) ..i was friends with one of the daughters (Cecilia) ..wish I could make contact with her.

Angel O October 1, 2018 - 7:22 pm

This is a little unrelated but a friend and I are doing a doctumentary on the paranormal surrounding woodhaven and I was wondering if any of you former residents experienced anything out of the ordinary around forest park. Specifically about the forest of forest park. We’ve experienced some odd things and seen some odd things around bandshell, tennis court and near the dog park. Any stories or information is greatly appreciated. thank you!

Penny (Pliester) Maitner May 17, 2020 - 7:44 pm

Very interesting to read your comment, Margo. I grew up at 88-17 85th Street in Woodhaven in the 1940’s. My parents bought a home in 1950 and we moved out of Woodhaven to South Ozone Park. I went to PS 60 and 65 and also to St. Lukes Lutheran Church. According to this article, which also attached a picture of the church, it no longer has services. Many of my friends went to St. Thomas’ a few blocks away. I, too, couldn’t go up to the avenue (Jamaica Avenue) except to meet my father at the el station at 85th Street when he came home from work in Manhattan. It was great growing up in Woodhaven. We played in the streets, walked to the playground, aand came in from playing, in the summer, when it was dark.

Elaine (Andersen) Dively June 21, 2020 - 1:56 pm

Cannot believe that I saw your name, Penny, as I was just reminiscing and reading about Woodhaven. I was your neighbor on 88th Road and was probably confirmed the same year you were at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church under Pastor Mohr. Went to P,S 60,65 and 97. In the middle of 7th grade my parents bought a house in Lynbrook and reluctantly I had to move with them. I loved Woodhaven and Forest Park, the local playground and the church which was my second home. So very sad to read the church has closed. We could get on the El train at 85th St. and either go to Manhattan or shopping in Jamaica. So many of us were either the children or grandchildren of Immigrants. I think I spoke with you briefly in1961 at Germantown Seminary in Philly.

ray picarelli May 27, 2020 - 8:33 am

graduated from ps97, lived close by, there was mr.book, van bargain ( shop), zimmerman, fisher(math), mc govern ( anyway my gym teacher, mean sob, liked punching us kids in the chest ), to name a few. i mostly remember a few of the girls that graduated with me ( j.e & c.e ) ( wow), anyway a fine school back in the 60’s, wouldn’t mind doing it again.
p.s. (j.e) signed my book.
“ To a math wiz “

Patricia Skimelis December 3, 2020 - 11:34 am

I remember you and Joanne E. I graduated from 97 along with you. I remember Mrs. Zimmereman (music/gym), Fischer, McGovern, Wingerson and the rest slip my memory at this time. Do you remember Bunny Caputo? Michele Gagliola? Paulene Cayea (who I spoke with a few months ago) and hope to get together in the future. Where has the time gone?

Sandy Knudsen May 29, 2020 - 6:49 pm

To Charles Brama. I remember you well. I was married to Richie Wolf. Grew up in Woodhaven all my life until 17 years ago moved to Bellerose Queens about 6 miles out of Woodhaven. Remember all the things mentioned in your history and comments from everyone. Blessed to have lived there for so many years and so many great memories. Thank you for doing so much research. Sandy Knudsen.

Charles Brama June 16, 2020 - 2:05 pm

Sandy, Just came across your note. As I reflect back I remember gatherings in your back yard and the wonderful vocals created by you, your brother, and his friend (Squeaks I think). I thought that anyone creating such beautiful music must surely become a pro when they get older. Did you ever record?There is a lady who I grew up with, named Ellen Butler, from the little I know she’s a retired Nassau police officer, who was holding annual reunions for the kids she knew from school. I’ve never been available to get there but someday….I can hope. What are you up to these days beside wearing masks and using sanitizer? I’m retired for the past 8 years, living in North Calif. with my wife of 38 years Darlene. She is a rare person, in that she is a native San Franciscan, lived all of her life there and now we live approx 20 miles north. I still think of the people we hung out with in Woodhaven Bob Newton, Jim Ferro, Mike Licata, Joe Anatrella, Don Bilski, oh all of those memories

Tom Bogash June 1, 2020 - 1:15 am

Any more info towards city line ozone pk

Julius Freeman August 22, 2020 - 7:45 pm

One correction. John Pitkin didn’t develop East New York from the 1830s through the 1850s. John Pitkin established East New York in 1835, but went bankrupt in “The Great Panic Of 1837” & had to sell almost all of it to Germans.

Walt Hughes August 29, 2020 - 9:33 am

Old PS 60 was on 87th Road Between 80th & 85th Streets. Used to play punch ball there in the 1950’s. I lived on 88th Avenue between 80th & 85th Streets. My dad lived there all his life and still called 80th Street Shaw Avenue until the day he died in 1980.

Walt Hughes September 27, 2020 - 9:42 am

My in-laws lived in the Wycoff apartments in the 1960s. It was located on 88th Avenue and had a central courtyard that went all the way to Jamaica Avenue. There was playground/park across 88th Ave. called Equity Park, if I remember correctly. The building looked nothing like the Wycoff Apt. building shown in the photos. I also thought the Union Course race track was around 88th Avenue & 78th or 79th Street close to where Niers(?) Bar is located. Am I wrong.

Bob Manderville May 25, 2021 - 3:47 pm

Where do I start? All your post brought back so many memories of growing up in Woodhaven. I’ll try and answer some of my thoughts your post brought back before I forget them.

Margo: I lived on 89th Ave right off 85th Street and I believe the deli you referred to was Hirshshon which was the only deli on 85th Street and the corner of 88th Rd. Like you described it it was old fashioned and had two big bay windows that stuck out a foot or so from the store front. You mentioned in your post that your mom was a teacher at P.S.60. I can only remember one teachers name from when I attended there in the 1950’s and it was Mrs. Mc Cabe. I have a picture of our class with her in it. I took my younger brother on Saturday mornings to the library on Forest Parkway who had someone reading to the small kids in that basement room you mentioned.

John Jensen / Ray: You mentioned you remember Mr. McGovern from P.S.97. I remember he had a class ring I believe from St.Johns and he would turn it around on his hand and tonk the boys on the head with the stone. He was also pretty good at throwing a piece of chalk at any boy who wasn’t paying attention. I had Mr. Koch for science class, Mrs. Kronenburg for 7th grade home room, Zimmerman for 8th grade home room..

Sandy: I knew Richie Wolf who lived on the corner of 88th Ave and 85th Street very well. Richie was about a year older than me but his sister Kathy was my age. She attended St.Thomas while I went to 97. There was another girl who lived next door to the Wolf family who they were very friendly with. She was younger than Kathy.

Mike Klein June 3, 2021 - 6:15 am

Does anyone remember the name of the variety store on the south side of Jamaica Ave, a few blocks east of Woodhaven Blvd?

Bob Manderville June 7, 2021 - 3:15 pm


There was a store that sold numerous items but mainly dealt in yarn and such on the block after Woodhaven Blvd. But your description sounds more like the other Lewis of Woodhaven which was across the street from LLoft candy store on the corner of 90th Street. On one side of it was the diner and the other side had an ally way which led to the apartment complex in the back. Of course it depends on what time frame you are discussing but I’m going back to the 1960’s early 70’s with my memory here.

Bob Manderville June 7, 2021 - 4:16 pm

Mike: The name of the yarn store came to me. It was Smiley’s Yarns or John’s Bargain Store depending on when you lived in Woodhaven.

Elizabeth Mildenberger January 31, 2022 - 6:26 pm

2 places that are worth mentioning are Lewis’ of Woodhaven and the Haven Theater. Everyone who lived there knew these places and knew them very well. They were part of your life and culture.

WoodhavenGal October 7, 2022 - 8:34 pm

Smiley’s was the yarn store. It originally was located on Jamaica Avenue between 85th and 86th Streets, and then moved down to between Woodhaven Blvd. and 92nd Street, which was the block where John’s Bargain Store was located back in the 1960s. Woolworth’s, Woodhaven Bakery, and Wilken’s ice cream parlor were across the street (north side of the avenue). I grew up in the neighborhood from 1961 onward, having moved to eastern Queens in the 1980s with my growing family. I went to P.S. 58 Main in Ozone Park then P.S. 65 (the 58 annex) on 78th Street, and marched to the brand-new P.S. 60 on April 1, 1966, with my 2nd-grade class…and hundreds of other kids coming from little older schools in and around Woodhaven, Ozone Park, and Richmond Hill (I can still almost smell Mr. Kelly’s floor wax in the recesses of my memory – those floors GLEAMED!). It was a lovely place to grow up. I STILL miss Lewis’ of Woodhaven – almost 20 years after Robby and Jeff closed up shop.


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