8. Woodside was famous for an ancient chestnut tree

Woodside trees

Early accounts of what would become Woodside included descriptions of a majestic chestnut tree, which was centuries-old by the time it came down in the late 1800s. It stood around 10 feet high near a junction of three dirt roads, making it a central meeting place for the community. The tree also played a role in the Revolutionary War as a place for disseminating vital information. People would post legal notices and other public announcements to the tree’s base.

A community developed around the tree thanks to Benjamin W. Hitchcock, a publisher of sheet music and periodicals who organized excursions from the city to draw people in. Nearly 1,000 plots of land were laid out, and Hitchcock priced empty lots at $300, taking a 25% commission on each sale. It is likely that he named the area Woodside, which popped up in the mid-1800s. He undertook real estate promotions, though many plots remained empty since they were rather expensive compared to tenement apartments in Lower Manhattan.