Woodside, Queens is one of the best-kept secrets in New York City. It’s a vibrant, diverse and taco-truck-filled community nestled just east of Sunnyside, Queens — the greatest urban neighborhood in the world, where I happen to reside. Ok, maybe third greatest.
But Woodside’s secret is that it was built, in part, by a nasty little water mold.
Be my guest if you want to jump right into some recent photos, otherwise stick around for a quick-and-sciencey history lesson about the area.
In the mid-1800s, Ireland was having a rough time. And that’s putting it lightly.
Caustic social and political issues had been piling up, potato crops were failing (thanks to a nasty water mold which caused potato blight), starvation gripped most of the population and disease was spreading rampantly.
During a span of about two decades, in fact, the country lost roughly 2 million people/25 percent of its population. Half of those losses were to death, while the other half emigrated to U.S. cities such as New York City and Boston.
About a quarter of these 1 million emigrants settled into NYC, and then-Nassau county — which the Woodside and Sunnyside areas were a part of in the 1850s — took a lion’s share of that immigration action. In its heyday during the late 1800s, Woodside was about 80 percent Irish. That’s tough to gauge now, however, as the U.S. census only asks for white/black/Hispanic/Asian/other, and that whole America-as-a-melting-pot thing.*