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,"
borders Astoria on the northeast, at Hazen Street.
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
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
River the new Long Island village named in his honor; however, Astor never
actually set foot in Astoria.
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
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
Afterwards, the Steinways built a sawmill and
foundry, as well as a streetcar line. The family eventually
established Steinway Village
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
. 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.
Fruit market on Broadway, a major
neighborhood thoroughfare and retail area.
Astoria was first settled by the Dutch
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 settlers in Astoria. Numerous
Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries and pizza shops are found
throughout Astoria, particularly in the Ditmars Blvd area.
saw a large number of ethnic Greeks from
Greece, Albania and Cyprus, giving
Astoria the largest Greek population in New York City.
Greek cultural imprint can be seen in the numerous Greek
restaurants, bakeries, tavernas
as well as several Greek Orthodox
churches. With perhaps 30,000 residents claiming Greek heritage,
Astoria has one of the largest concentrations of Greeks outside
in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood's Arab
population grew from earlier Lebanese immigrants to include people from
Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco.
the 1990's, Steinway Street
28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many
Arabic shops, restaurants and cafes.
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.
have also shown a rise in numbers.
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
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". 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
subway lines – formerly called the
run along an elevated track
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
Below that is the 30th Avenue stop, then
Farthest south is 36th Avenue or Dutch
, a low-density commercial area that features traditional
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
Sons), a major commercial street with many retail
stores, and a very prominent Middle
Eastern section between Astoria Boulevard and 28th
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
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 block of 37th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue
is sometimes referred to as "the Seinfeld
In the Seinfeld
television show, this street
is occasionally seen in external establishing shots
as the block where
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
Astoria Studios on 35th Avenue.
All In the Family
in Astoria, although the address given for Archie Bunker's home
(704 Hauser Street) is fictional.
Two notable Robert De Niro
filmed on location in Astoria – Goodfellas
and A Bronx
. 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
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.
Other films shot in Astoria include
(1987), starring Jodie Foster
, and the 1950s noted civil defense
instructional film Duck and
(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
(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
(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
, 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
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
. 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.
The Greek television program Stous
("On 31st Street") has been filming in Astoria
The video game "Grand Theft Auto
" – 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".)
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
A Guinness World Record was set in Astoria on July 18th, 2009, for
the 'Largest Musical Saw Ensemble'. The record, part of the annual
NYC Musical Saw Festival (in Astoria since 2002) was organized by
at Trinity Lutheran
Church, with the participation of 53 people playing the musical saw
Shops along Broadway, Astoria.
New York City
Department of Education
operates Astoria's public schools. A
complete listing searchable by ZIP code
be found on the Department's official website
Astoria also has several private schools, many of which offer
Borough Public Library operates four branches within Astoria's ZIP
- 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
- Ted Alexandro, comedian.
- Tony Bennett (1926-), Grammy
- The Cadillac Man, author,
Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets,
- Maria Callas, opera singer
- Chester Carlson invented
xerography at his Astoria laboratory in
- Joe Cicalese, Polish-language
novelist and host of the Weather
Channel show, It Could
- John Frusciante (1970-),
guitarist for the Red Hot Chili
- Anthony Giacchino, filmmaker,
producer and composer. Composed the original music for Speed Racer, the motion
- George Gibbs
(1815-1873), geologist who contributed to the study of the
languages of the indigenous peoples of
Washington Territory, was born
- Marc Maron, comedian
- Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009),
- Ethel Merman
(1908-1984), legendary Broadway actress and singer.
- Dito Montiel (1965-), author,
screenwriter, director and musician. .
- Al Oerter (1936-2007), Olympic discus
throw 4-time gold medalist.
- Natalia Paruz, the "Saw Lady" -
musical saw player and notable subway musician, founder/director of
the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival
- LiLi Roquelin, singer
- Melanie Safka (1947-),
- David Schwimmer (1966-), Actor
and director in television and film
- Michael Vallarelli, musician