Tower Square Shopping Center

How many people can say they ate pizza in a former trolley barn? Well now, you can, if you head over to the Tower Square Shopping Center. While it now looks like your typical shopping center, home to a Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Michael’s Art Supplies, and more, the shopping center was actually a 19th century trolley terminal! You can still see evidence of this former transportation hub from the inscription remaining on its facade, subtly reading “NY AND QUEENS CO., RYI CO” and “WAITING ROOM.”

The trolley barn was built in 1896 for the New York and Queens Railroad Company, which was established that year when the Steinway Railway Company and Newtown Railroad Company sold out to investors from Philadelphia who wanted to build a trolley line in Queens. During its existence, the building served trolley cars from Flushing, College Point, Jamaica, and Long Island City, and was the site of the largest carbarn in Queens.

With the formation of the Independent Subway System and the advent of motorized buses, trolley companies like the New York and Queens Railroad Company came to an end. The building serviced the last trolley in about 1937.

In the 1980s, there were plans to tear the building down, but they came to a somewhat dramatic halt when a stop-work order was issued minutes after a bulldozer began working on the clocktower in 1987. The last-minute success in saving the building was the result of persistent efforts by community preservationists, who had gathered around the building while it was about to be bulldozed. Thanks to them, eating and shopping at the Tower Square Shopping Center has a lot more meaning than your regular shopping experience.

Bill’s Cyclery

Amidst all the diverse businesses lining Roosevelt Avenue, this bicycle shop will catch your eye with its faded yellow and blue vintage sign. As the sign proudly displays, Bill’s Cyclery was established in 1939, and has remained intact since then. If you’re a bike rider, head over here stat! They sell a variety of bikes of different brands, including Dahon, SF Racing, Fuji, and GT. You can also choose from a wide selection of helmets, pumps, and water bottles. Need something fixed? Bill’s also does services and repairs for your bike.

If you’re not sure what you need, there are buyers’ guides on their website, or the staff at the store will be happy to help you out.

Phil-Am Foods

While you’re in Woodside, you might as well seize the chance and buy some Filipino groceries. The Phil-Am Food Market is small but packed with snacks and ingredients you’ll need. It’s a little on the pricey side, but considering that Filipino grocery stores are hard to come by, it’s worth it. Whether you want to try your hand at cooking a Filipino dish or just want to take some sweets or snacks back home with you, Phil-Am foods is where you need to be. Always filled with people from the surrounding Filipino community, and Filipinos outside of it who want food that reminds them of home, Phil-Am foods is the go-to for an authentic taste of the Philippines.

Some of their must-buy items include quarts of ube and mango ice cream, pan de sal (slightly sweet bread that makes a great breakfast), ensaymada (sticky bread with cheese and stuffed with ube or coconut), and snacks like pork rinds and mango sunflower crackers. They also sell produce, as well as fresh meat and seafood in the back, along with special seasoning and other basic Filipino ingredients you’ll need.

If you plan to visit, note that Phil-Am Foods is closed on Wednesdays.