Here we focus on the past with photographs take from the 1940's. Along with the photograph there is a brief tale to give some background as to how things were in this time period and the sense of community of the time, which was mostly Irish at this time.
These three pictures show 52nd Street between Roosevelt and Skillman Avenues, in Woodside. As you can see the apartments are lined up with what are known as stoops at the entrance. A stoop consisted of five steps up to a landing and then one more step at the doorway entrance. At this time period, except for some estates that still existed in this area and some small houses, all of the houses were in this style. This particular style was called the Mathew Flats, after the owners that built them, and were designed as what is called railroad rooms for slang. Railroad room was an appropriate name because like a railroad you started and one end of the apartment and to get to the next room you had to walk through the room before. These apartment buildings contained only six apartments each and had two entrances into each apartment, one at the beginning of the apartment and one at the end. The owner also supplied the renter with a paint job every three years and the renter was allowed to choose the color which they wanted. In these times the owner sold off the apartments and the new landlords began cutting the apartments in half, to make more money, this is why the apartments have fire escapes on the street entrance.
This photograph was taken during World War 2 on the stoop of one of the apartment buildings. At this time, is still today, the stoop was a favorable place to take pictures, meet up with friends, and talk with neighbors. All the apartment entrances had the same design, and the front door was always, and in some buildings, unlocked with a foyer after this and then a looked door which led to the hallway for the bottom two apartments.
This scene is a Veterans Day Parade marching up Skillman Avenue, by St. Sebastians Church. In this neighborhood there were a lot of boys that enlisted or were drafted for World War 2; that is why the community support for the war was very high. If you were to ask any of the seniors that grew old in this community they will tell you they had a lot of pride in their country and in their soldiers, and held many parades and gatherings to support them.
These next two photographs are taken on Skillman Avenue and show blocks 52nd through 50th. The picture on the left shows John who owned the delicatessen shown on the corner closest to you on the right hand side. During World War 2 he used to have a sign in the window with all the soldiers names, from Woodside, with stars next to the ones who had perished.
These two photographs were taken during war bond draft drive. At this time, in World War 2, they used to hold war bond drives where they would bring planes and tanks onto the streets, and setup stages where they would have celebrities come out and perform for the community. This was all done to get the residents to buy war bonds to support the war, and went on quite frequently.
This set of photographs is is another parade on Skillman Avenue for World War 2. The sign reads "community's tribute to our boys", and as you can see the street is filled with residents. Some Landlords also decorated the facade of the building as you can see from the building shown here.
This is a photo of the bathroom house located inside Windmuller Park. Now these bathrooms are unused and locked since they became a place for people to drink and mostly take drugs during the eighties; they now serve as a janitors closet for the park keeper.
This empty lot is now Berkeley Towers, built in 1960 and 1961. In the 40's the soldiers and men of the neighborhood use to go here to play ball and hang out and in the later years was a hang out for young kids to get high.
This is a view of what is now known as Windmuller Park. Windmuller Park got its name from the previous landowners, the Windmuller family. Before this empty lot this land was, as described by older residents, a forest where a estate resided, and the owners were very wealthy people who at this time had a pack of dogs that ran on the property to keep people off the property. They later sold the land and the estate and the park that was erected on this very spot was named after them.
This is a photo of one of the residents of Woodside on the swings at Windmuller park. Behind her is running right to left is Woodside Avenue and the houses you see are now long gone replaced by apartment buildings.
This is a view of 56th Street and Woodside Avenue. The apartment building on the right hand side still exists today and you will also see telephone poles which carried the wires from street to street. This does not exist anymore, but not just for Woodside residents, for all neighborhoods the phone wires now rest underground. If you look further down the street past the apartments you can see nothing but trees and now this block is lined with apartment buildings like the one shown here.