Woodhaven Library

Queens Public Library Marks Centennial Anniversary of the Woodhaven Branch

Celebration Includes Time Capsule Burial, Concerts, and a Scavenger Hunt

 State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Councilwoman Joann Ariola Will Commemorate the Centennial

QUEENS, NY _ Queens Public Library this week will mark the centennial anniversary of its Woodhaven branchone of its four Carnegie libraries – with a series of events, including burying a time capsule, a historic presentation and a scavenger hunt. State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Councilwoman Joann Ariola will commemorate the occasion on Saturday, Jan. 6.

The branch, at 85-41 Forest Pkwy., first opened its doors to the public on January 7, 1924. The building, constructed with money bequeathed to New York City by the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was the last Carnegie library completed in Queens. The other three are the Astoria, Poppenhusen, and Richmond Hill branches. 

The high demand for the Woodhaven Library’s services was immediately evident. When it opened, the library had 1,271 volumes and 1,000 more were soon added. Within a month, librarians reported there were only 11 children’s books left on the shelves.

The branch has since served as a lifeline to the Woodhaven community, drawing 110,000 visitors and loaning 120,000 items each year prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020. The library also hosted a UPK program from 2014 to 2021.

“Over the past century, this library has been the cornerstone of Woodhaven, offering generations of residents free books, newspapers, magazines and other materials, as well as after-school programs, storytimes, English classes, technology workshops, and more,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are proud of the sustained impact of the library on the community and look forward to continuing to provide free access to information, knowledge and opportunity to all for many years to come.”

“As we gather to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Woodhaven Library, it is a profound honor to reflect on the enduring significance of this beloved institution,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “For a century, the Woodhaven Library has stood as a beacon of knowledge, a sanctuary of learning, and a haven for the curious minds of our community, especially our children. It has been a sacred space where the transformative power of books and education has touched countless lives, nurturing a love for learning and empowering generations to reach for their greatest potential. In a world that is ever-changing, our local library has remained a steadfast symbol of stability and growth, while offering an updated, safe harbor for the exploration of new ideas and the cultivation of essential skills. It is within these walls, that I remember visiting as a young teen, where the minds of our youth are ignited, their imaginations set free, and their futures shaped. This library serves as a cornerstone of our community, fostering a love for reading, providing vital resources for academic success, and instilling the values of empathy, understanding, and knowledge.”

“As the first elected official from Woodhaven in a generation, I am proud to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Woodhaven Library,” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar. “For 100 years, the Woodhaven Library has been an anchor institution of our community. Generation upon generation has entered its hallowed halls to discover the joys of reading, learn about the world around them, gain mastery of the English language, and even get help with their job searches. Today we begin a week of festivities to celebrate this educational and cultural hub in Woodhaven. I will proudly present a resolution commemorating this historic milestone. On this occasion, we look forward to honoring the library’s past and supporting its bright future.”

“The fact that the Woodhaven Library has lasted for a century is a testament to the vital space it serves in this community,” said Councilwoman Joann Ariola. “Our libraries are much more than simply book repositories. They are community centers and places of education, where people from all walks of life can go to enrich themselves. As we continue to roll out new programs in our local libraries – programs like Hero Story Time, for example – we are showing that places like this are still important assets in our neighborhoods, and will be for generations to come.”

Woodhaven Library

Designed by architect Robert F. Schirmer in the Classical Revival style, the building boasts a symmetrical layout, a prominent entrance and large windows.

Over the years, the branch has undergone numerous renovations. The original arches in the windows and above the main entrance were partially bricked in. In the early 1930s, an auditorium and children’s room were constructed. In 1978, the branch was severely damaged by a fire, but reopened two years later following extensive repairs. In 1991, a new access ramp was added.

The branch is currently awaiting additional renovations, which will include historically compatible windows, a new roof and separate rooms for children, teens, adults, and for community meetings and library programs. The renovated building will be fully ADA-accessible.

This week’s celebrations will begin on Thursday, January 4. Local families are invited to help decorate the branch on that day between 4-5 PM. There will also be an adult painting party and a rock concert from 6 to 7 PM.

On Friday, Jan. 5, from 4 to 5 PM, customers of all ages are welcome to participate in “A Creation Celebration,” where they will be painting, drawing, writing poems and songs through the lens of Woodhaven Library's history. The Queens Memory team will also be there to collect memories about the library from its patrons.

In addition, the branch is organizing a scavenger hunt asking participants to look for historical buildings in the neighborhood.

The main celebrations will take place on Saturday, Jan. 6, starting with Hero Story Time at 10:30 AM led by Councilwoman Joann Ariola. A police officer and firefighter will also be on hand to talk about their professions to the children. 

There will be a balloon show performed by balloon artist, Nick the Balloonatic, from 1-2 PM, followed by a presentation about the history of Woodhaven by the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society from 2-2:30 PM.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo will present a proclamation celebrating the anniversary at 2:30 PM.

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar has also introduced a resolution commemorating the centennial, which will be presented at the branch that day.

A concert of Dominican music featuring Berto Reyes and his band will take place from 3 to 4 PM.

The celebrations will culminate with a time capsule burial between 4 and 4:30 PM. The capsule, slated to be opened in another 100 years, will contain photos and notes with patrons’ memories about Woodhaven Library and the neighborhood, as well as QPL cards, including the Mets and Hip Hop 50th anniversary special edition cards.

There will be a cake and other refreshments provided by local businesses.


Contact: Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, ekern@queenslibrary.org