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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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Geography

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

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), 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

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.

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.

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.

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, and the 1950s noted civil defense instructional film Duck and Cover.

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.

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

Education

Schools

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:

  • 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

Born in Astoria

Other past and present residents

External links

General information

Articles and news

Government resources

Community interest sites

Pictures

References

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