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

Aerial view of the Triborough Bridge (left) and the Hell Gate Bridge (right) spanning Astoria Park and the Astoria Pool
Night view of the Triborough Bridge and Manhattan from Astoria Park.

Astoria is a neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the borough of Queens in New York City. 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 Heights, more commonly referred to as "Upper Ditmars."

Contents

Origin of the name

The area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallet's Cove, after its first landowner William Hallet, who settled there in 1659 with his wife Elizabeth Fones. It was renamed after John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest man in America, with a net worth of over $40 million, in order to persuade him to invest $2,000 in the neighborhood. He only invested $500, but the name stayed nonetheless, as a bitter battle over naming the village was finally 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; however, Astor never actually set foot in Astoria.

History

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). Hallet's Cove, founded in 1839 by fur merchant Steven Halsey, was a noted recreational destination and resort for Manhattan's wealthy.[1][2]

During the second half of the 1800s, economic and commercial growth brought about 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. Afterwards, the Steinways built a sawmill and foundry, as well as a streetcar line. The family eventually established Steinway Village for their workers, a community that provided school instruction in German as well as English.[3]

In 1870, Astoria and several other surrounding villages, including Steinway, were incorporated into Long Island City. 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.[1]

Astoria was also figures prominently in early American filmmaking as one of its initial centers, a heritage preserved today by the American Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufmann Studios.

Ethnic heritage

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 Blvd area.

The 1960s saw a large number of ethnic Greeks from Greece, Albania and Cyprus, giving Astoria the largest Greek population outside of Greece itself.[4] 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.[5]

Beginning in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood's Arab population grew from earlier Lebanese immigrants to include people from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco. In the 1990s, Steinway Street between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many Arabic shops, restaurants and cafes.

Astoria's South American and white European population has seen significant growth since the early 1990s, including a large population of Brazilians, who reside in the 36th avenue area. Albanians and Bosnians have also shown a rise in numbers. South American immigrants predominantly from Guyana also constitute a sizable population in Astoria.

Recently, Astoria has also emerged as a home of South Asian community in New York. Migrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are settling here in increased numbers.

Geography

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".[6] Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as "the Heart of Astoria".[7]

Astoria is served by the R and V lines that run through the stop Steinway Street and 46 Street as well as the N and W subway lines – formerly called the BMT – which run along an elevated track above 31st Street.

Subway stops 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),[8] a major commercial street with many retail stores, and a very prominent Middle Eastern section between Astoria Boulevard and 28th Avenue.

Places of interest

In popular culture

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

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

The block of 37th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue is sometimes referred to as "the Seinfeld Street." In the Seinfeld television show, this street is occasionally seen in external establishing shots as the block where George Costanza's parents live.[citation needed]

The television series Cosby, starring Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad and Madeleine Kahn (not to be confused with the earlier series The Cosby Show) was set in Astoria and was filmed there, at the Kaufman Astoria Studios on 35th Avenue.[11]

The 1970s situation comedy All in the Family was set in Astoria, although the address given for Archie Bunker's home (704 Hauser Street) is fictional.

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, a block away from St. Joseph's Church. Other films shot in Astoria include Five Corners (1987), starring Jodie Foster,[12] and the 1950s noted civil defense instructional film Duck and Cover, shot using schoolchildren from P.S. 152.[13]

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.

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 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.

31st Avenue, Astoria.

Astoria was 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 was 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.

Astoria is also 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.[14]

The Greek television program Stous 31 Dromous ("On 31st Street") was filmed in Astoria in 2007.[15]

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".)[16] 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 features a rendition of Astoria in its version of New York City.

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.

Education

Shops along Broadway, Astoria.
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Schools

The New York City Department of Education operates Astoria's public schools. A complete listing searchable by ZIP code can be found on the Department's official website.

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

Libraries

Queens Borough Public Library operates four branches within Astoria's ZIP codes:[17]

  • Astoria (14-01 Astoria Boulevard)
  • Broadway (40-20 Broadway)
  • Ravenswood (35-32 21st Street)
  • Steinway (21-45 31st Street)

Notable people from Astoria

Night view of the Hell Gate Bridge from Astoria Park.

Born and raised in Astoria

Born in Astoria

Notes

  1. ^ a b "History Topics". Greater Astoria Historical Society. http://www.astorialic.org/topics/topics_p.php. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  2. ^ "The Neighborhoods of Long Island City". Greater Astoria Historical Society. http://www.astorialic.org/neighborhoods/neighborhoods_p.php. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  3. ^ "Neighborhoods: Steinway". Greater Astoria Historical Society. http://www.astorialic.org/neighborhoods/stein_p.php. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  4. ^ Schumach, Murray (1977-10-07). "Metropolitan Baedeker; Astoria, the Largest Greek City Outside Greece". New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70B15F9385A167493C5A9178BD95F438785F9&scp=1&sq=Astoria,%20the%20largest%20Greek%20City%20outside%20Greece&st=cse. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Williams, Solange; Stephanie Mejia (2001). "Astoria: 'A Little Greece' in New York". New York University. http://www.nyu.edu/classes/blake.map2001/greece.html. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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 read. “Welcome to 30th Avenue.”"
  8. ^ Street Necrology of Astoria, accessed December 31, 2006
  9. ^ "Bohemian Hall History". http://www.bohemianhall.com/history.htm. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  10. ^ "St. Michael's Cemetery". http://www.stmichaelscemetery.com/?cat=4. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  11. ^ ""Cosby"". IMDB.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115144/. 
  12. ^ ""Five Corners"". IMDB.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093029/. 
  13. ^ ""ATOMIC FLASH": The Birth of Bert". Conelrad. 2007. http://www.conelrad.com/duckandcover/cover.php?turtle=01a. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  14. ^ "St. Michael's Cemetery:Events Archive". http://www.stmichaelscemetery.com/?cat=4. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  15. ^ "Stous 31 dromous (2007)". IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1113765/maindetails. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto IV: Steinway Beer Garden". http://www.rockstargames.com/IV/#?page=steinway&content=video0. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  17. ^ "Queens Library". http://queenslibrary.org. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  18. ^ "Frank Bonsangue", IMDB.com
  19. ^ 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."
  20. ^ "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."
  21. ^ Van Fossen, Anthony (2006). "A New Howard Hughes: John Meier, Entrepreneurship, and the International Political Economy of the Bank of the South Pacific (Ivan Molloy and Ron Reavall, eds.)" (PDF). 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. http://www98.griffith.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/10072/16441/1/41874_1.pdf. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  22. ^ 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."
  23. ^ "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."
  24. ^ Photos: Tony Bennett in Astroia, Newsday, September 13, 2006.
  25. ^ http://www.books-by-isbn.com/1-59691/1596914068-Cadillac-Man-My-Life-on-the-Streets-Cadillac-Man-1-59691-406-8.html
  26. ^ Cadillac Man. "The Story of Cadillac Man and the land of the Lost Souls". Esquire. 1 May 2005. Accessed February 8, 2009.
  27. ^ Cowan, Coleman. "Sweeping Him Off His Street". New York Times. Cadillac Man, Homeless author of Astoria. Accessed February 8, 2009.
  28. ^ Cadillac Man. "Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets." Bloomsbury USA. March, 2009.
  29. ^ Petsalis-Diomidis, Nicholas (2001). The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years. Amadeus Press. ISBN 1-57467-059-X. 
  30. ^ Chester's Dream: The Genesis of the Modern Photocopier, Industrial Market Trends, April 9, 2001
  31. ^ 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."
  32. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume,1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  33. ^ Bennetts, Leslie. "MCGOOHAN TO STAR IN 'PACK OF LIES'", The New York Times, December 26, 1984. Accessed March 8, 2008.
  34. ^ 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."
  35. ^ 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..."

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