Astoria, Queens

Astoria, Queens

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).

Origin of the name

Originally, Astoria was known as Hallet's Cove, but was renamed after John Jacob Astor, who never set foot in the neighborhood, in order to persuade him to invest $2,000 in the neighborhood. He only invested $500, but the name stayed. A bitter battle over naming the village was finally won by supporters and friends of Astor who had become the wealthiest man in America by 1840 with a net worth of over $40 million. Astor did live in a place called "Astoria" (his summer home), built in Manhattan on what is now East 87th Street near York Avenue, from which he could see across the river the new Long Island village named in his honor.


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.cite web |url= |title=History Topics |accessdate=2008-02-25 |format= |work=Greater Astoria Historical Society ] cite web |url= |title=The Neighborhoods of Long Island City |accessdate=2008-02-25 |format= |work=Greater Astoria Historical Society ]

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 Henry Steinway, patriarch of the Steinway family who founded the Steinway Piano Company in 1853. 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.cite web |url= |title= Neighborhoods: Steinway |accessdate=2008-02-25 |format= |work=Greater Astoria Historical Society ]

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 incorported 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.

Ethnic heritage

Astoria was first settled by the Dutch and Germans in the 17th century.

The 1960s saw a large number of ethnic Greeks from Greece, Albania and Cyprus, giving Astoria the largest Greek population out of any New York City neighborhood.Fact|date=March 2008 The Greek cultural imprint can be seen in the numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries, tavernas and cafes, as well as several Greek Orthodox churches. With approximately 25,000-30,000 residents claiming Greek ethnicity, Astoria has one of the largest concentrations of Greeks outside Greece.

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 1990's, Steinway Street between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many Arabic shops, restaurants and cafes.

Astoria's Latino 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 the numbers. South Asian immigrants predominantly from Bangladesh also constitute a sizable population in Astoria specially around 32nd Street and 34th Avenue.


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 the 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 called "Ditmars". [cite journal | quotes = | last =Jones | first =Delmos J. | authorlink = | coauthors = Joan Turner and Joan Montbach | date = | year =1992 | month = December | title =Declining Social Services and the Threat to Social Reproduction: An Urban Dilemma | journal =City & Society | volume =6 | issue =2 | pages =99–114 | doi =10.1525/city.1992.6.2.99 | id = | url = | format = | accessdate = ] Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as "the Heart of Astoria". [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.”"]

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 Bengali 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, founder of the Steinway & Sons piano factory [ [ Street Necrology of Astoria] , accessed December 31, 2006)] ), a major commercial street with many retail stores, and a very prominent Middle Eastern section between Astoria Boulevard and 28th Avenue referred to as "Little Egypt".

Places of interest

*Attractions in Astoria include the Kaufman Astoria Studios' Museum of the Moving Image, Isamu Noguchi Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park. Astoria Park, along the East River, is Astoria's largest park and also contains the largest of New York City's public pools which was also the former site of the U.S. Olympic trials.
*The Hell Gate Bridge and New York Connecting Railroad viaduct rise high above Astoria.
*The oldest beer garden in New York City, Bohemian Hall, was founded in 1910 when Astoria was largely Irish, Italian, Bohemian (Czech), and Slovak. [cite web |url= |title=Bohemian Hall History |accessdate=2006-07-20 |format= |work= ]

Astoria 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. In the 1970s television sitcom "All in the Family", Archie Bunker and his family lived at the fictional address 704 Hauser Street in Astoria. [ [ 'All in the Family' - the TV Sitcom] ,, accessed December 31, 2006]

The 1991 movie "Queens Logic" was filmed all around Astoria and actually features a great Astoria landmark- The Hell Gate Bridge. Also one of the screenwriters Tony Spiridakis has roots in Astoria.

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.fact|date=March 2008

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. [cite web |url= |title="Cosby" |accessdate= |format= | ]

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. Other films shot in Astoria include "Five Corners" (1987), starring Jodie Foster, [cite web |url= |title="Five Corners" |accessdate= |format= | ] and the 1950s noted civil defense instructional film "Duck and Cover".Fact|date=January 2008

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 on 23rd Road near the El (elevated train).

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.

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 church hosts annual public events and concerts to celebrate Joplin's musical legacy, including a Joplin retrospective.cite web |url= |title=St. Michael's Cemetery:Events Page |accessdate=2007-08-01 |format= |work= ]

The Greek television program "Stous 31 Dromous" ("On 31st Street") has been filming in Astoria since 2007. [ [ "Stous 31 dromous" (2007) ] ]

The video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" – which takes place in a mock New York City named Liberty City – has a neighborhood named Steinway. The game features a Bohemian Hall-inspired "Steinway Beer Garden", but as an Irish-and-Russian 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".) [cite web |url= |title=Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto IV: Steinway Beer Garden |accessdate=2008-02-08 |format= |work= ] 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 internet series called "The New Adventures of Captain S" was entirely filmed in Astoria. All the school scenes take place in the "Our World Neighborhood Charter School".



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:

* El-Ber Islamic School (25-42 49th Street)
* Immaculate Conception School (21-63 29th Street)
* Les Enfants Montessori School (29-21 Newton Avenue)
* Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School (23-15 Newtown Avenue)
* Queens Lutheran School (31-20 37th Street)
* St. Catherine and St. George School (22-30 33rd Street)
* St. Demetrios Astoria School (30-03 30th Drive)
* St. Francis of Assisi School (21-18 46 Street)
* St. John's Preparatory School (21-21 Crescent Street)
* St. Joseph's School (k-8) (28-46 44th Street)
* Most Precious Blood School


Queens Borough Public Library operates four branches within Astoria's ZIP codes:cite web |url= |title=Queens Library |accessdate=2008-02-25 |format= |work= ]

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

Notable people from Astoria

Born and raised in Astoria

*JoAnn Falletta, orchestra conductor, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Advisor to the Honolulu Symphony
*Whitey Ford, star pitcher of the New York Yankees. [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."]
*George Maharis, actor and comedian best known for his work on "Route 66". [ [ "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."]
* John H. Meier, financier and former business associate of Howard Hughes, also involved with Watergate. [cite journal | quotes = | last =Van Fossen | first =Anthony | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | year =2006 | month = | title = 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.) | journal = The Eye of the Cyclone Book 2: Governance and Stability in the Pacific | volume = 2| issue = | pages =129–162 | doi = | publisher =Noosa Heads, Queensland: The University of the Sunshine Coast and Rock Mountain Publishing | url = | format =PDF | accessdate = 2008-03-06]
*Christopher Walken, Oscar-winning actor.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."]

Born in Astoria

*Alvey A. Adee (1842-1924), United States State Department official and chief U.S. diplomat during the Spanish-American War.
*Tony Bennett (1926-), Grammy winning singer. [ [,0,7270550.photogallery?coll=ny-music-headlines&index=1 Photos: Tony Bennett in Astroia] , "Newsday", September 13, 2006.]
*Eddie Bracken (1915-2002), actor
*John Frusciante (1970-), Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist
*George Gibbs (1815-1873), geologist who contributed to the study of the languages of the indigenous peoples of Washington Territory, was born in Astoria.cite book | title = Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume,1607-1896 | publisher = Marquis Who's Who | location = Chicago |date=1963]
*Jack Kelly (1927-1992), actor
*Nick Kenny (1895-1975), poet and newspaper columnist
*Patrick McGoohan (1928-), actor. [Bennetts, Leslie. [ "MCGOOHAN TO STAR IN 'PACK OF LIES'"] , "The New York Times", December 26, 1984. Accessed March 8, 2008.]
*Ethel Merman (1908-1984), legendary Broadway actress and singer.
*Al Oerter (1936-2007), Olympic discus throw 4-time gold medalist. [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."]
*Melanie Safka (1947-), Singer-songwriter. [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..."]
*David Schwimmer (1966-), actor

Other past and present residents

*Ted Alexandro, comedian. [ [ "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."]
*Dan Allen, comedian
*Albert R. Broccoli, producer of the "James Bond" films (childhood)
*Adrien Brody, Oscar winning actor (childhood)
*Maria Callas, opera singer (childhood)cite book | last=Petsalis-Diomidis | first=Nicholas | title=The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years | year=2001 | publisher=Amadeus Press | id=ISBN 1-57467-059-X ]
*Chester Carlson invented xerography at his Astoria laboratory in 1938 [ [ Chester's Dream: The Genesis of the Modern Photocopier] , Industrial Market Trends, April 9, 2001]
*Christian Finnegan, comedian
*John Gallagher Jr., Tony-Award-winning actor (former resident)
*Anthony Giacchino (1970-), filmmaker, producer and composer. Composed the original music for "Speed Racer", the motion picture. [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."]
*Trevor Hayes, actor
*Cyndi Lauper, Grammy winning singer (childhood)
*Sam Lipsyte, writer (current resident)
*Dito Montiel, author and filmmaker who wrote and directed the film "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints", based on his memoir of the same name, about growing up in Astoria
*William Steinway, son of the founder and owner of Steinway & Sons, influential in building much of Astoria.
*Archie Bunker, fictional star of "All in the Family"

External links

General information

* [;_ylt=AvC4PHpcRrE6bTpwx6mEmrRkDLMF/*-, Map of Astoria from]
* [ Map of neighborhood boundaries in Queens]

Articles and news

* [ Article from the "Greater Astoria Historical Society" explaining the Queens street numbering system]
* [ Listing and schedule of community board meetings in Queens]
* [ "Astoria Times" newspaper online]
* [ "Western Queens Gazette" newspaper online]
* [ Restaurant reviews and cultural information for Astoria]

Government resources

* [ 114th Precinct of the New York Police Department]
* [ NYC Board of Education assessment of Astoria public schools]

Community interest sites

* [ Greater Astoria Historical Society]


* [ New York Photography - Astoria] , contemporary black-and-white and color photographs.
* [ Astoria, Queens in Pictures] , vintage and historical photographs of the neighborhood.


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