Astoria, Queens

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Astoria
Neighborhoods of New York City
Aerial view of the Triborough Bridge (left) and the Hell Gate Bridge (right) spanning Astoria Park and the Astoria Pool
Aerial view of the Triborough Bridge (left) and the Hell Gate Bridge (right) spanning Astoria Park and the Astoria Pool
Country United States
State New York
County Queens
City New York City
European settlement 1659
Named for John Jacob Astor
Ethnicity[1]
 • White 47.0%
 • Black 4.1%
 • Hispanic 26.6%
 • Asian 14.2%
 • Other N/A
ZIP code 11101–11106
Area code(s) 718, 347, 917
Astoria, Queens is located in New York City
Astoria, Queens
Location of Astoria in New York City
Night view of the Triborough Bridge and Manhattan from Astoria Park.

Astoria is a middle class and commercial neighborhood with a population of 154,000[2] in the northwestern corner of the New York City borough of Queens. Located in Community Board 1, Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside (bordering at Northern Boulevard), and Woodside (bordering at 50th Street). Astoria is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 114th Precinct.[3]

History[edit]

The area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallett's Cove, after its first landowner William Hallett, who settled there in 1659 with his wife, Elizabeth Fones. Beginning in the early 19th century, affluent New Yorkers constructed large residences around 12th and 14th streets, an area that later became known as Astoria Village (now Old Astoria). Hallett's Cove, founded in 1839 by fur merchant Stephen A. Halsey, was a noted recreational destination and resort for Manhattan's wealthy.[4][5]

The area was renamed after John Jacob Astor, then the wealthiest man in America with a net worth of over $40 million, in order to persuade him to invest just $2,000 in the neighborhood. He only invested $500, but the name stayed nonetheless, as a bitter battle over naming the village finally was won by Astor's supporters and friends. From Astor's summer home in Hell Gate, Manhattan – on what is now East 87th Street near York Avenue – he could see across the East River the new Long Island village named in his honor. Astor, however, never actually set foot in Astoria.

During the second half of the 19th century, economic and commercial growth brought increased immigration from German settlers, mostly furniture and cabinet makers. One such settler was Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, patriarch of the Steinway family who founded the piano company Steinway & Sons in 1853, which today is a worldwide piano company. Later on the Steinways built a sawmill and foundry, as well as a streetcar line. The family eventually established Steinway Village for their workers, a company town that provided school instruction in German as well as English.[6]

Astoria and several other surrounding villages, including Steinway, were incorporated into Long Island City in 1870. Long Island City remained an independent municipality until it was incorporated into New York City in 1898. The area's farms were turned into housing tracts and street grids to accommodate the growing number of residents.[4]

Astoria also figured prominently in early American filmmaking as one of its initial centers, a heritage preserved today by the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios.[citation needed]

Today, much of the Astoria waterfront is being redeveloped and underutilized industrial sites in forgotten historic neighborhoods are being revived. Halletts Point is one of five former industrial sites on the waterfront being transformed, and will bring seven new mixed-use residential towers, including 2,000 market-rate units and 500 affordable units, into the neighborhood. [7] The development will also include new waterfront parks, a supermarket, retail shops and restaurants, and two new schools. These waterfront projects were designed by a New York architectural firm, in conjunction with private developers, city agencies and landscape architects. [8] [9]

In March 2013, Astoria's Broadway N/Q stop served as the first in the city's pilot commuter composting program, where commuters could drop off compost on their way to work.[10] The program continues from 8 to 10 am on Tuesdays.[11]

Ethnic heritage[edit]

Fruit market on Broadway, a major neighborhood thoroughfare and retail area.

Astoria was first settled by the Dutch and Germans in the 17th century. Many Irish settled in the area during the waves of Irish immigration into New York City during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Italians were the next significant immigrants in Astoria. Numerous Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries and pizza shops are found throughout Astoria, particularly in the Ditmars Boulevard area.

Jews were also a significant ethnic and religious group. The Astoria Center of Israel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1925 after outgrowing the former Congregation Mishkan Israel, which was built in 1904.[12]

The 1960s saw a large number of ethnic Greeks from Greece, and immigrants from Cyprus in 1974.

The Greek cultural imprint can be seen in the numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries, tavernas and cafes, as well as several Greek Orthodox churches. While the population of Greeks in Astoria was 22,579 in 1980, it dropped to 18,127 by 1990 due to decreased immigration and lower birth rates. Greek organizations in the area include the Hellenic American Action Committee (HANAC) and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.[13]

Arab shops on Steinway Street

Beginning in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood's Arab population grew from earlier immigrants from Lebanon to also include people from Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. In the 1990s, Steinway Street between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many Arabic shops, restaurants and cafes, which is unofficially called "Little Egypt".

Many Maltese people also live in Astoria, around 20,000, and although this population has steadily been emigrating from the area, there are still many Maltese, supported by the Maltese Center of New York.

Astoria's South American and European population has seen significant growth since the early 1990s, including a large population of Brazilians, who reside in the 36th Avenue area. Albanians, Bulgarians, and Bosnians have also shown a rise in numbers.

Many Spanish Americans live in Astoria, with most of them being of Galician heritage from Northwestern Spain; this community being supported by the Casa Galicia, or Galicia House.

At a period many Bangladeshi Americans settled in Astoria, Queens. Many had originated from Sylhet. By 2001 many of the Bangladeshi American people who had settled in Astoria had been moving to Metro Detroit. A survey of an Astoria-area Bengali language newspaper estimated that, in an 18-month period until March 2001, 8,000 Bangladeshi people moved to the Detroit area. However, as of 2010, the Bangladeshi American community in Astoria has been increasing, as Bangladeshi immigrants are increasingly settling in Astoria.[14]

Population losses in Queens were particularly high in immigrant neighborhoods such as Astoria, which suffered the greatest population loss in the city—it lost over 10,000 residents between the years 2000 and 2010.[15]

Geography[edit]

Detail of 1896 map of Long Island City, showing Astoria and Ravenswood, from the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

There is some debate as to what constitutes the geographic boundaries of Astoria. The neighborhood was part of Long Island City (LIC) prior to the latter's incorporation into the City of New York in 1898, and much of it is still classified as LIC by the USPS.

The area south of Astoria was called Ravenswood, and traditionally, Broadway was considered the border between the two. Today, however, many residents and businesses south of Broadway identify themselves as Astorians for convenience or status, since Long Island City has historically been considered an industrial area, and Ravenswood is now mostly a low-income neighborhood. Some of the thoroughfares have lent their names to unofficial terms for the areas they serve. For instance, the eastern end of Astoria, with Steinway Street as its main thoroughfare, is sometimes referred to simply as "Steinway", and the northern end around Ditmars Boulevard is sometimes referred to as "Ditmars".[16] Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as "the Heart of Astoria".[17]

Transportation[edit]

Astoria is served by the E M R trains of the New York City Subway that stop at Steinway Street and 46th Street stations on the underground IND Queens Boulevard Line as well as the N Q trains which run along the elevated BMT Astoria Line above 31st Street.[18]

Subway stops on the BMT Astoria Line are located at several east-west avenues, with the terminus at Ditmars Boulevard, which extends roughly eastward from Astoria Park to the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. The next major avenue south of Ditmars with a subway stop is Astoria Boulevard, which flanks the Grand Central Parkway and the Triborough Bridge. Below that is the 30th Avenue stop, then Broadway. Farthest south is 36th Avenue or Dutch Kills, a low-density commercial area that features traditional Bangladeshi restaurants and shops.

The primary streets running north-south are Vernon Boulevard along the East River; 21st Street, a major traffic artery with a mix of residential, commercial and industrial areas; 31st Street; and Steinway Street (named for Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later Henry E. Steinway), founder of the piano company Steinway & Sons),[19] a major commercial street with many retail stores, and a very prominent Middle Eastern section between Astoria Boulevard and 28th Avenue, the area is full of Middle Eastern food restaurants which present some local types of food from Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco, most food in these restaurants is Halal to suit the Muslim residents who are main customers in this neighborhood.

The 21st Street – Queensbridge subway station (F train) also serves the area.

Places of interest[edit]

Museum of the Moving Image on 35 Ave in Astoria

In popular culture[edit]

The neighborhood has often been featured in various media; in film and television, the area is either featured as Astoria or as a setting for another location in New York City.

The historic Eagle Electric company warehouse in Astoria (left), now a condominium development.

In film[edit]

31st Avenue, Astoria.
  • The 1973 film adaptation of the John-Michael Tebelak stage musical Godspell includes multiple images of characters beneath the supports for The Hell Gate Bridge, or East River Arch Bridge, as seen from Randall's Island, both while the plot unfolds as well as during visual montages that take place in such numbers as Day by Day and We Beseech Thee. The view of the bridge is similar to those found in Astoria Park and Astoria can occasionally be viewed in the background of shots facing east.
  • King Kong (1976) had a scene in Astoria, at Astoria Boulevard and 31st Street, where the two main characters board the RR train at the Astoria Boulevard station on the BMT Astoria Line.
  • The 1991 movie Queens Logic was filmed all around Astoria and features an Astoria landmark—the Hell Gate Bridge. One of the screenwriters, Tony Spiridakis, has roots in Astoria.
  • The 1996 independent film Girls Town shows scenes shot in Astoria Park.
  • The 1982 film version of Tempest starring John Cassavetes had scenes shot at the cafes on 23rd Ave off 31st St.
  • Woody Allen's 2002 film Hollywood Ending had scenes shot in the neighborhood surrounding the Kaufman Astoria stages.
  • The Accidental Husband (2008), Directed by Griffin Dunne; with Uma Thurman, Colin Firth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan was filmed in Astoria on 33rd Street and 23rd Avenue.
  • The 2011 remake of the comedy film Arthur depicts at least one scene showing Astoria, Queens, using a Batmobile visual shown from 34th Street and 34th Avenue in the neighborhood.
  • Two notable Robert De Niro films were filmed on location in Astoria—Goodfellas and A Bronx Tale. While the latter was set in the Bronx, most of the exterior scenes were filmed in Astoria as well as the nearby neighborhood of Woodside. The high school featured in the film is William Cullen Bryant High School on 31st Avenue, and the church used in the film is St. Joseph's on 30th Avenue, and the funeral parlor scenes were shot from a funeral home on 30th Ave, across the street from St. Joseph's Church. Other films shot in Astoria include Five Corners (1987), starring Jodie Foster,[25] and the 1950s Serpico (1973) with Al Pacino had several scenes filmed in Astoria. The elevated train stop at Ditmars Boulevard was the location for a chase scene and Serpico has a clandestine meeting in Astoria Park under the Hellgate Bridge.

In games[edit]

  • The video game Grand Theft Auto IV—which takes place in a mock New York City named Liberty City—has a neighborhood named Steinway in the borough of Dukes, the counterpart of Queens in the game. The game features a Bohemian Hall-inspired "Steinway Beer Garden", but as an Irish-and-German themed bar instead of Czech. (A mock TV commercial for the Steinway Beer Garden, viewable at the Rockstar website, includes the voice-over remarking that the Garden is "ethnically confused.")[26] Steinway Park is modeled after Astoria Park, with its famous outdoor pool (including the diving platforms) and scenic water's-edge pathway. Numerous signs and awnings of real local Astoria businesses appear in the game, although the names have been altered (e.g. "ASTORIA Medical Dental" becomes "ROSARIA Medical Dental").
  • The video game The Godfather II depicts Astoria in its version of New York City.

Notable grave sites[edit]

  • Astoria is the final resting place of New York City mobster Frank Costello as well as ragtime composer and musician Scott Joplin. Both Costello and Joplin are interred at St. Michael's Cemetery. The cemetery hosts annual public events and concerts to celebrate Joplin's musical legacy, including a Joplin retrospective.[27]

In literature[edit]

  • Paul Volponi's award-winning novel Black and White is set in Astoria.
  • In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is pulled over by a policeman on a "motor cycle" in Astoria while driving with the narrator into the city.
  • Astoria is the setting for the book, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, later made into a film starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Shia LaBeouf, about the filmmaker's experiences growing up in the neighborhood during the 1980s. The 2006 movie was filmed at various locations around Astoria.
  • Astoria is the setting for the novel Autobiography/Masquerade, also released in 2006. It was written to honor the memory of Antonio "Nino" Pellegrino, an Astoria native who appeared briefly in A Bronx Tale.

In music[edit]

  • The music video for the 1985 song Your Love by the British band The Outfield was set in a sound stage/painting studio in the rear of what is currently Strand Pharmacy at 25-01 Broadway. At the end of the video, the female "painter" walks out of the sound stage onto Crescent St. and then makes a left onto Broadway.
  • Sufjan Stevens' recorded a majority of Illinoise at The Buddy Project Recording Studio in Astoria.
  • A Guinness World Record was set in Astoria on July 18, 2009, for the "Largest Musical Saw Ensemble". The record, part of the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival (in Astoria since 2002) was organized by Natalia Paruz at Trinity Lutheran Church, with the participation of 53 people playing the musical saw together.[citation needed]
  • Rapper Action Bronson filmed his music video "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" in Astoria. The video was released on May 20, 2013 as the single for his upcoming album Saaab Stories.
  • Queens Metal band Emmure released a track on their 3rd studio album "Felony" titled "Bars in Astoria". It was featured on the Ibanez website in their interview with members of the band in promotion of their product.

In television[edit]

In Colloquialisms[edit]

  • Because of its proximity to Manhattan and semi-reasonable rents, Astoria has become home to an ever-increasing number of fledgling actors lending to the nomenclature,"Actoria" — a term coined by Astorian actor/writer Jason Arcaro who moved to Astoria in the 1990s before the thespian "coup de main."[31]

Education[edit]

Shops along Broadway, Astoria.

Schools[edit]

The New York City Department of Education operates Astoria's public schools.[32]

Astoria also has several private schools, many of which offer parochial education:

Astoria Boulevard library
Night view of the Hell Gate Bridge from Astoria Park.

Libraries[edit]

Queens Borough Public Library operates three branches within Astoria's ZIP codes:[33]

  • Astoria (14-01 Astoria Boulevard)
  • Broadway (40-20 Broadway)
  • Steinway (21-45 31st Street)

Businesses[edit]

Notable people from Astoria[edit]

Born and raised in Astoria[edit]

Born in Astoria[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2000 Census
  2. ^ http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/census2010/t_pl_p1_nta.pdf
  3. ^ 114th Precinct
  4. ^ a b "History Topics". Greater Astoria Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  5. ^ "The Neighborhoods of Long Island City". Greater Astoria Historical Society. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  6. ^ "Neighborhoods: Steinway". Greater Astoria Historical Society. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  7. ^ Brosh, Brendan (June 16, 2009). "Waterfront development in the works for Hallets Point". nydailynews.com. The New York Daily News. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Montefinise, Angela (March 1, 2009). "QUEENS GETTING A ROYAL UPGRADE". nypost.com. The New York Post. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Gordon, David (June 24, 2009). "Plans to develop Hallets Point in Astoria". queenscourier.com. The Queens Courier. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Neighborhood News," New York magazine, March 11-18, 2013.
  11. ^ "NYC Compost Project hosted at BIG!Compost Food Scrap Drop-off Locations". Build It Green! website. 
  12. ^ The Jewish Community in Long Island City; The Queens Jewish Historical Society (Greater Astoria Historical Society)
  13. ^ Williams, Solange; Stephanie Mejia (2001). "Astoria: 'A Little Greece' in New York". New York University. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  14. ^ Kershaw, Sarah. "Queens to Detroit: A Bangladeshi Passage." The New York Times. March 8, 2001. Retrieved on February 28, 2012.
  15. ^ "NYC2010". Results from the 2010 census. City of New York. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Jones, Delmos J.; Joan Turner and Joan Montbach (December 1992). "Declining Social Services and the Threat to Social Reproduction: An Urban Dilemma". City & Society 6 (2): 99–114. doi:10.1525/city.1992.6.2.99. 
  17. ^ O'Donnell, Michelle. "Life Limps On for Powerless in the Heart of Astoria", The New York Times, July 23, 2006. Accessed January 30, 2008. "Gary Lyons shook his head. He pointed to welcome banners that had been affixed to lampposts. “See the flag?” he asked. “The heart of Astoria,” it reads, “Welcome to 30th Avenue.”"
  18. ^ Transportation in Astoria
  19. ^ Street Necrology of Astoria, accessed December 31, 2006
  20. ^ http://us.findnetone.com/sports/the-astoria-pool
  21. ^ "Bohemian Hall History". Archived from the original on 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  22. ^ "St. Michael's Cemetery". Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  23. ^ "Steinway & Sons official site". 
  24. ^ "NYC Cycling Map 2001". 
  25. ^ "Five Corners". IMDB.com. 
  26. ^ "Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto IV: Steinway Beer Garden". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  27. ^ "St. Michael's Cemetery:Events Archive". Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  28. ^ "Cosby". Internet Movie Database. 
  29. ^ McCormack, Simon (August 23, 2010). "Seinfeld's Jerry Stiller Visits 'Costanza House' in Astoria". Huffington Post. 
  30. ^ "Stous 31 dromous (2007)". IMDB. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  31. ^ "Actoria". U.S. Copyright Office. 
  32. ^ A complete listing searchable by ZIP code can be found on the Department's official website.
  33. ^ "Queens Library". Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  34. ^ Bridges, Peter. "An Appreciation of Alvey Adee". 
  35. ^ Frank Bonsangue at the Internet Movie Database
  36. ^ Berkow, Ira. "ON BASEBALL; Ford Highlight Film Started Early", The New York Times, August 17, 2000. Accessed November 3, 2007. "Vivid in my memory is Stengel's shrug, palms up at his sides, gesturing in response to the mixture of cheers for Ford and boos for his removal. It was a display of sympathy for the kid from Astoria, Queens, who just a few years earlier was playing in street stickball games, and now under a national spotlight and World Series pressure had pitched so beautifully."
  37. ^ "Stars of TV's 'Route 66' working on opposite coasts.", Albuquerque Journal, November 16, 2003. Accessed November 30, 2007. "George Maharis was born Sept. 1, 1928, in Astoria, N.Y."
  38. ^ Van Fossen, Anthony (2006). "A New Howard Hughes: John Meier, Entrepreneurship, and the International Political Economy of the Bank of the South Pacific" (PDF). In Ivan Molloy; Ron Reavall. The Eye of the Cyclone Book 2: Governance and Stability in the Pacific (Noosa Heads, Queensland: The University of the Sunshine Coast and Rock Mountain Publishing) 2: 129–162. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  39. ^ "Astoria native anchoring Greek parade". 2010. 
  40. ^ a b c Jackson, Nancy Beth. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Astoria; Accessible, Affordable and Highly Diverse", The New York Times, October 19, 2003. Accessed October 17, 2007. "Local celebrities in addition to Mr. Bennett include Christopher Walken and the late Ethel Merman."
  41. ^ "Funny Pages", Queens Tribune. Accessed October 23, 2007. "A part of Astoria funnyman Ted Alexandro could be seen in the July issue of “Maxim” magazine."
  42. ^ Photos: Tony Bennett in Astoria, Newsday, September 13, 2006.
  43. ^ Cadillac Man. "The Story of Cadillac Man and the land of the Lost Souls", Esquire, 1 May 2005. Accessed February 8, 2009.
  44. ^ Cowan, Coleman. "Sweeping Him Off His Street", The New York Times, 18 March 2007. Accessed February 8, 2009.
  45. ^ Petsalis-Diomidis, Nicholas (2001). The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years. Amadeus Press. ISBN 1-57467-059-X. 
  46. ^ Chester's Dream: The Genesis of the Modern Photocopier, Industrial Market Trends, April 9, 2001
  47. ^ Coppock, Kristen. "Filmmaker brings ‘The Camden 28’ to the nation’s attention on PBS", Burlington County Times, September 11, 2007. Accessed May 19, 2008. "A graduate of Holy Cross High School in Delran, the self-professed history buff, who lives in Astoria, N.Y., said he was especially curious why such an important event had happened so close to his hometown, and no one he had grown up with knew about it. He wanted to change that."
  48. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume,1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  49. ^ "Jack Kelly". Matinee Classics. Retrieved February 2014. 
  50. ^ Bennetts, Leslie. "McGoohan To Star In 'Pack of Lies'", The New York Times, December 26, 1984. Accessed March 8, 2008.
  51. ^ Metaxas, Eric. "About Eric", 2012. Accessed January 17, 2012.
  52. ^ Litsky, Frank. "Al Oerter, Olympic Discus Champion, Is Dead at 71", The New York Times, October 2, 2007. Accessed November 19, 2007. "Alfred Oerter Jr. was born Sept. 19, 1936, in Astoria, Queens, and grew up on Long Island, in New Hyde Park. At Sewanhaka High School, he was a sprinter and then a miler."
  53. ^ Spelling, Ian. "Melanie's new songs lend their vigor to her old hits", The New York Times, October 12, 2007. Accessed December 20, 2007. "Born Melanie Safka in Astoria, N.Y., Melanie won over tens of thousands of fans at the legendary Woodstock concert..."
  54. ^ Weber, Bruce. "Franz Schurmann, Cold War Expert on China, Dies at 84", The New York Times, August 26, 2010. Accessed August 27, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′28″N 73°54′15″W / 40.77444°N 73.90417°W / 40.77444; -73.90417