We want the name “Little Manila Avenue” to be printed on a street sign and installed at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street in Woodside, Queens.
For the Filipino community of the greater New York City area, Little Manila is their home away from home: a dynamic portal in which members of the Filipino community maintain their connections to their loved ones both locally and internationally.
The beginnings of Woodside’s Little Manila date back five decades. After the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the US became open to skilledy workers from around the world. In the 1970s, New York hospitals faced nursing shortages and recruited from the Philippines, bringing many Filipino nurses and their families to Queens. Those who worked at Elmhurst Hospital settled in the surrounding neighborhoods, including Woodside, where the Filipino community has since thrived. By the 1990s, 72% of Philippine immigrants in New York were registered nurses.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Filipino community was severely impacted—not only were many working in the health care system, but Little Manila was physically situated on the front line of the city’s epicenter.
Presently, 54% of New York Filipinos live in Queens. In 2009, 13,000 of the 85,000 residents of Woodside are of Filipino descent, thus making up 15% of the neighborhood’s population. An estimated 86,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans reside in NYC, making them the third-largest Asian group in New York today.
The 5.8 miles of Roosevelt Avenue is possibly the most commercially diverse thoroughfare in the USA. The street co-naming will bring visibility to the Filipino community’s contributions to New York City. There are no records of “Little Manila” elsewhere in NYC and this would make it the first. Our hope is that Little Manila will be recognized as more than an ethnic enclave that adds to the diversity of the borough and the city, but home to a community who has been an integral part of the care and thrivance of fellow New Yorkers.
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