Woodside Plaza is dedicated to the members of the Woodside community who served and died in World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), Korea (1950-1953), and Vietnam (1964-1975). It is named for the neighborhood of Woodside, which lies in northwestern Queens, abutting Long Island City.
During New York’s colonial period, Woodside was known as “suicide’s paradise,” as it was largely snake-infested swamps and wolf-ridden woodlands. The Dutch gave Father John Doughty, a colonist from Massachusetts, a charter for 13,000 acres in 1642, and thus began the region’s settlement. During the mid-1800s, several wealthy men moved from Charleston, South Carolina to build mansions in the region, including John Kelly. Kelly’s son John Andrew Kelly worked as a newspaper man and wrote a set of articles entitled “Letters from Woodside,” after his view of the woods from his window. When developer Benjamin Hitchcock bought the Kelly estate in 1867 to develop a village, he favored the name Woodside over “suicide’s paradise” for his new town.
Woodside saw a huge building boom in 1869, when Hitchcock broke the Kelly farm into lots, which he sold for between $100 and $300 each. He also built streets in the village, and his interest encouraged other builders to join in developing the area. Eventually, other large estates were sold and developed. The Long Island and the Flushing Rail Road companies merged and opened a station in Woodside in 1895. When the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909, the population of Woodside rose to nearly six thousand people. Elevated train lines branched into the neighborhood and opened in 1917, causing the population to jump again. In the 1920s, the last tracts of undeveloped land disappeared. After World War II, many of the houses in Woodside were torn down to make way for apartment buildings.
Woodside Plaza, located at the junction of Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside Avenue, and 60th Street, was originally known as Woodside Memorial Park after its construction in 1971. Commissioner Stern renamed the property “Woodside Plaza” in 1998. There is a large monument in the park, made of smooth gray marble, with the following inscription in gold lettering: “WOODSIDE MEMORIAL PARK: Dedicated to all members of the community who made the supreme sacrifice for the good and welfare of their country and for the peace and freedom of mankind. THE WORLD WARS, KOREA, AND VIETNAM.”
Also in the park are several young trees and new plantings including Willowleaf cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolius), Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata), lillyturf (Liriope muscari “Big Blue”), cranesbill (Geranium masculatum), Bloody geranium (Geranium sanguineum), Evergreen barrenwort (Epidium davidii), Threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrechtii), Meadow sage (Salvia pratensis), and comfrey (Symphytum officinale).
The property is paved with square and hexagonal tiles. There are several sets of wooden benches, as well as two lampposts, a flagpole with a yardarm, and a drinking fountain, all of which were added during reconstruction in 1999. Woodside Plaza is now part of the Greenstreets program, a joint project of Parks and the Department of Transportation begun in 1986 and revived in 1994. Its goal is to convert paved street properties, such as triangles and malls, into green spaces.
Saturday, Dec 01, 2001