Dec. 14, 2021 By Allie Griffin and Christian Murray
A street corner in Woodside is going to be co-named “Little Manila Avenue” as an ode to the Filipino community in the neighborhood.
The NYC Council Parks and Recreation committee voted 15-0 Tuesday in favor of co-naming the southwest corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street “Little Manila Avenue” through legislation sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.
The full Council will vote on the co-naming Wednesday and it’s almost certain to pass.
The vote comes about 18 months after residents launched a petition to erect a street sign reading “Little Manila Avenue” at the 70th Street intersection. The petition garnered more than 3,000 signatures.
A stretch of Roosevelt Avenue by the 69th Street subway station is known to many as “Little Manila” for its Filipino restaurants and stores. Many Filipino Americans have called that section of Woodside home for decades.
The Filipino community started migrating to the area in the 1970s following the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965 — legislation that eased the immigration restrictions placed on people from outside Western Europe.
Many immigrated to Queens after being recruited to work in New York hospitals due to a nursing shortage at the time. By the 1990s, 72 percent of Filipino immigrants in New York were registered nurses, according to figures released by the city council.
Several were recruited to work at Elmhurst Hospital and settled in surrounding neighborhoods like Woodside — where a Filipino community has since flourished.
During the last census, about 86,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans were estimated to be residing in New York City with about 54 percent living in the borough of Queens.
Residents began advocating for a street sign soon after a mural went up in June 2020 on the corner of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue that pays tribute to the Filipino healthcare workers who risked — and in some cases, gave — their lives during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The mural reads “Mabuhay,” a Philippine expression that has several meanings, including “cheers”, “welcome” and “may you live.”
Van Bramer said he started working on the legislation calling for the co-naming shortly after attending a ceremony where the mural was unveiled.
“People were talking about renaming the area Little Manila and I wanted it done,” he said. “I wanted to honor the Filipino and Filipino American community who are an important part of the Woodside community.”
According to his office, there are no official records of a “Little Manila” elsewhere in the city. Therefore, the street co-naming, he said, would bring visibility to the contributions the Filipino community has made to Woodside and the city as a whole.
“I wanted to make sure that this became law while I was a council member,” Van Bramer said, who will leave office at the end of the month due to term limits.