If you’ve been to one of our meetings before, you know what to expect. You’ll see a few dozen old photographs along with news articles that will help paint a picture of what life was like in Woodhaven long ago.
What might surprise you is how much fun you’ll have. People genuinely enjoy looking at the past as it often shines a bright light on the local news and events that are occurring today.
For example, those who thought the fight over the bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard was rough might be surprised to find out that it’s far from the nastiest fight to take place over streets and roads in Woodhaven.
The fight to widen Woodhaven Boulevard from two to ten lanes took decades to settle and ended up in the courts, as did the battle over the train running down Jamaica Avenue. In that case, the debate was over an elevated or underground train.
By far, the nastiest fight was the one regarding the bridge over Atlantic Avenue. Residents at the time fought for a grade-level crossing and stated that a bridge would divide the neighborhood, be an eyesore and attract trouble.
When you look at old pictures and read old news articles and quotes predicting the future, and then show pictures of the intersection as it looks today, complete with a strip club at the intersection, you might walk away thinking the residents had it right 80 years ago.
Now, let’s talk a bit about crime. These days, whenever something bad happens, you’ll get some people tut-tutting that “things like this never happened in the old days.”
Come to one of these meetings and you might find yourself surprised to hear about all of the criminal activity that went on in our neighborhood years and years ago.
Murders, burglaries, domestic abuse, pickpockets, gangs, thugs, vandals – these crimes appeared with stunning regularity in the pages of the Leader-Observer in the good old days!
Another thing that people really love about historical presentations on Woodhaven are the “Then and Now” images. People enjoy seeing pictures of Jamaica Avenue without the elevated train and then photos of the same location nearly 100 years later.
One of my favorites is an old picture of a bus stop, with a big brick wall standing behind the people waiting for the bus. Behind them there is a poster for “Gone with the Wind” and a roller skating rink that no longer exists.
It’s a great picture of the old days, and when you flip to a current picture showing the bus stop on Woodhaven Boulevard by the bank, people get a big kick out of it.
On a side note, I gave one of these presentations to a group of young children and was surprised by the lack of reaction they had at the then-and-now photos. However, a happy little accident revealed a solution to this.
One pair of slides was ordered incorrectly: now and then instead of then and now. It turns out that for the younger audiences it helps when they see the “today” photo first and then see the reveal of what it looked like in the past.
We hope you’ll come out and join us next Tuesday as we embark on another season. We’ve got a few fun things planned, notably an evening walking tour of Jamaica Avenue, and we’ll give you the details at the meeting.
Mostly we hope you’ll come out to spend time getting to know your friends and neighbors. People generally spend too little time communicating with other residents in the community.
This is a great opportunity to meet people and make new friends with a common interest: the rich, interesting history of your favorite community. Hope to see you there.