Reporter’s Notebook: Beholding the Change, Holding onto the Past on Woodhaven Blvd.

By Meaghan Lee Callaghan, 2 Sept. 2015

Woodhaven, Queens was once named Woodville for its extensive forested areas. But residents soon changed the name as not to compete with the town of Woodville, NY.

And the neighborhood has not stopped changing since.

The El clamors over Jamaica Ave., and buses tumble up and down Woodhaven Blvd. But for a place where the traffic can be overwhelming, Forest Park, the northern boundary of the neighborhood, is calm and peaceful.

The carousel whirls for a handful of children, while a sprinkling of elderly picnic in surrounding fields. More business is done on the weekends, I am told by Mercy Izaguirre, 25, a carousel operator.

She tells me of a man she met the other day that hadn’t been to the park in 65 years. He said that instead of ticket sales, they had beer sales for parents.

“They would strap the kids in. They had pony rides over there,” she said. “If we could’ve kept all that, our profits would’ve doubled.”

Several short blocks from Forest Park, John Chetram, and his wife Ann-Marie, sell real estate in Brooklyn and Queens. But they love their neighborhood for its mix of modernity and history, although noticing changes in the area.

“Bigger businesses come in,” Mr. Chetram said. “Mom and Pop stores go out. But not all.”

I walk down Jamaica Ave. to visit some of these Mom and Pop stores. Schmidt’s Confectionery, opened in 1925, is closed for the summer season. I guess I’ll have to go to Dunkin Donuts for my sweet tooth.