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The area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallett's Cove, after its first landowner William Hallet, who settled there in 1652 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, incorporated on April 12, 1839 and previously founded by fur merchant Stephen A. Halsey, was a noted recreational destination and resort for Manhattan's wealthy.
The area was renamed for John Jacob Astor, then the wealthiest man in the United States with a net worth of more than $40 million, in order to persuade him to invest 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. Part of the motivation for locating the Steinway factory in Queens was to keep the workers isolated from the ferment of labor organizing and radicalism occurring in other parts of New York, notably the Lower East Side.
View of Astoria from the Triborough Bridge
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.
Today, much of the Astoria waterfront is being redeveloped and underutilized industrial sites in forgotten historic neighborhoods are being revived. Hallets 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. 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.
30th Avenue at 36th Street
31st Avenue at 33rd Street
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Astoria was 78,793, a decrease of 10,329 (11.6%) from the 89,122 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 902.94 acres (365.41 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 87.3 inhabitants per acre (55,900/sq mi; 21,600/km2).
The entirety of Community Board 1, which comprises Astoria and a small part of Long Island City, had 199,969 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 83.4 years.:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 16% are between the ages of 0-17, 41% between 25-44, and 22% between 45-64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 12% respectively.:2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community Board 1 was $66,382. In 2018, an estimated 18% of Astoria residents lived in poverty, compared to 19% in all of Queens and 20% in all of New York City. One in twelve residents (8%) were unemployed, compared to 8% in Queens and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 47% in Astoria, slightly lower than the boroughwide and citywide rates of 53% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Astoria is considered to be gentrifying.:7
Astoria was first settled by the Dutch, English, 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, and numerous Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries, and pizza shops are found throughout Astoria, particularly in the Ditmars Boulevard area.
The 1960s saw a large increase of Greek population from mainland Greece, and after 1974, there was an influx of Greeks from Cyprus. This 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. Recent economic issues in Greece have seen a resurgence of Greek immigration.
About 20,000 Maltese also live in Astoria, and although this population has steadily been emigrating from the area, there are still many Maltese, supported by the Maltese Center of New York.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood's Muslim population grew from earlier immigrants from Lebanon to also include people from Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 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", due to the number of Arabs residing there and the mostly Egyptian shops and lounges there.
Croatians from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have been numerous since the 1960s and their numbers continue to grow. New populations of South American and Balkan peoples have seen significant growth since the early 1990s, including a large population of Brazilians, who reside in the 36th Avenue area. Albanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, 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 is supported by the Casa Galicia (Galicia House) and the Circulo Español (Spanish Circle).
At one time, many Bangladeshi Americans settled in Astoria, but by 2001, many of them had moved 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.
Population losses in Queens were particularly high in immigrant neighborhoods such as Astoria, which suffered the greatest population loss in the city, losing more than 10,000 residents between the years 2000 and 2010.
There is some debate as to what constitutes the geographic boundaries of Astoria. The neighborhood was part of Long Island City prior to the latter's incorporation into the City of New York in 1898.
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", with their convergence point bearing the neighborhood name "Ditmars-Steinway". Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as "the Heart of Astoria".
Ravenswood is the name for the strip of land bordering the East River in Long Island City, and is part of Astoria.
The land was acquired in 1814 by Col. George Gibbs, a businessman from New York City who developed it. Gibbs died in 1833, and the land was divided into nine parcels by three developers. From 1848, there were several mansions built on this land, but the high class housing did not survive. The spring of 1853 brought the opening of a post office of its own and country store "run by Messrs. Moore & Luyster, and Mr. Samuel H. Moore of that firm received the appointment of postmaster, handling the mails in a corner of the store."
Ravenswood, unlike Astoria, never became a village; there was no disposition at any time to become independent as there was insufficient population or commercial activity to justify such a move. Ravenswood remained an exclusive hamlet within the Town of Newtown until its absorption with the Village of Astoria and the hamlets of Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills, Steinway, Bowery Bay and Middleton in Newtown Township into Long Island City in 1870. In 1870, Ravenswood, along with several other hamlets and the Village of Astoria, merged to form Long Island City.
In 1875, the first commercial buildings were erected, and the mansions were converted into offices and boarding houses. In 1879, the Long Island Terra Cotta Company was established in Ravenswood, by Rudolph Franke. By 1900, Ravenswood was heavily commercial, and remains so to this day. However, the name has retained its residential character through the New York City Housing Authority project that was built in 1949 to 1951 with this name between 34th and 36th Avenues, and 12th and 24th Streets.
Ditmars is a middle class section of Astoria bounded by Bowery Bay to the north, 31st Street and the Steinway subsection to the east, 23rd Avenue to the south, and the East River to the west. The adjacent Steinway neighborhood was largely developed as a company town by the Steinway & Sons piano company, and included houses and public facilities that were also available to non-employees. However, the Ditmars neighborhood was not included in the Steinway & Sons company housing and related facilities project. The neighborhood takes its name from Ditmars Boulevard which was named in honor of Raymond Lee Ditmars, (1876-1942) famed American herpetologist and curator of Reptiles of the New York Zoological Society at the Bronx Zoo.
The Riker-Lent Homestead is near the north end of Astoria Heights at 78-03 19th Road. Built around 1655 by Abraham Riker under a patent from Nieuw Nederland's last governor, Peter Stuyvesant, it is believed to be the oldest remaining dwelling in New York City still used as a residence. There is an adjacent family cemetery. The Smiths, who bought the house in 1975, have been restoring it for many years. The annual public tour was given usually in mid-September by the owners for the benefit of a local historical society, but has since ceased to occur.
Before Prohibition, there were dance halls, picnic areas, and amusement park rides at North Beach.
The Rikers Island Bridge to New York City's main prison, Rikers Island, runs from the north end of Hazen Street. Technically, Rikers Island is in the Bronx since New York City took it over from Long Island City in 1884, after it had annexed the South Bronx but before it consolidated Queens. However, like Astoria Heights, Rikers Island gets its mail from the East Elmhurst (ZIP Code 11370) station of the Flushing Post Office.
Astoria Park along the East River, is Astoria's largest park and also contains the largest of New York City's public pools (at 330 feet long) which was also the former site of the 1936 and 1964 U.S. Olympic trials.
Steinway & Sons piano factory located at 1 Steinway Place (not to be confused with Steinway Street) has been in operation in Astoria since the late 19th century and represents a legacy of award-winning craftsmanship, arts patronage, and the once vibrant, stand-alone Steinway Village. Limited tours of the factory are available.
Astoria is patrolled by the 114th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 34-16 Astoria Boulevard. The precinct also covers parts of Long Island City and Woodside.
The 114th Precinct ranked 19th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. With a non-fatal assault rate of 56 per 100,000 people, Astoria's rate of violent crimes per capita is about the same of that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 277 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 114th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 83.9% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 10 murders, 42 rapes, 193 robberies, 356 felony assaults, 855 burglaries, 744 grand larcenies, and 132 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Preterm and teenage births are less common in Astoria than in other places citywide. In Astoria, there were 84 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 15.1 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).:11 Astoria has a relatively average population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 12%, which is equal to the citywide rate of 12%.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Astoria is 0.0078 milligrams per cubic metre (7.8×10-9 oz/cu ft), lower than the citywide and boroughwide averages.:9 Nineteen percent of Astoria residents are smokers, which is higher than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Astoria, 19% of residents are obese, 11% are diabetic, and 29% have high blood pressure--compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 22% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Eighty-nine percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 79% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," about the same as the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Astoria, there are 10 bodegas.:10
Astoria is covered by ZIP Codes 11102 between 37th Avenue and Grand Central Parkway, 11105 north of Grand Central Parkway, 11106 between 31st and 37th Avenues west of 37th Street, 11101 south of 37th Avenue, and 11103 east of 37th Street. The United States Post Office operates five locations nearby:
Astoria generally has a higher ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. Half of residents (50%) have a college education or higher, while 16% have less than a high school education and 33% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 39% of Queens residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Astoria students excelling in math rose from 43 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2011, and reading achievement rose from 47% to 49% during the same time period.
Astoria's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is about equal to the rest of New York City. In Astoria, 19% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, less than the citywide average of 20%.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 78% of high school students in Astoria graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.:6
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), 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.
Fourteen percent of roads in Astoria have bike lanes, higher than the rate in the city overall.:10 Bicycle lanes, built as part of the city's bike lane system, include marked space along Vernon Boulevard, 20th Avenue, 21st Street, 34th and 36th Avenues, and access to protected paths crossing the Triborough Bridge onto Randalls and Wards Islands. Riders may also engage in more scenic biking along short sections of Shore Blvd. bordering both Astoria Park and Ralph DeMarco Park, a span that is occasionally closed to motor vehicle traffic during events.
There are plans to build the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), a light rail system that would run along the waterfront from Red Hook in Brooklyn to Astoria. However, the system is projected to cost $2.7 billion, and the projected opening has been delayed until at least 2029.
Additionally, Astoria is the final resting place of New York City mobsterFrank 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.
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.
Serpico (1973), with Al Pacino, had several scenes filmed in Astoria. For example, 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.
The movie Queens Logic (1991) 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 Robert De Niro film A Bronx Tale (1993) was set in the Bronx, but 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, 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.
The independent film Girls Town (1996) shows scenes shot in Astoria Park.
Woody Allen's film Hollywood Ending (2002) 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 remake of the comedy film Arthur (2011) depicts at least one scene showing Astoria, Queens, using a Batmobile visual shown from 34th Street and 34th Avenue in the neighborhood.
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.") 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.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby (1925), Jay Gatsby is pulled over by a policeman on a "motor cycle" in Astoria while driving with the narrator into the city.
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 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.
The music video for the song "Your Love" (1985) 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.
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, and the exterior of the house shown in the opening credits was shot elsewhere in Queens.
Kaufman Astoria Studios has further been longtime host to the PBS series Sesame Street and has been credited with local shoots on films like The Stepford Wives, the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, and the Golden Globe-winning Angels in America.
^"NYC2010"(PDF). Results from the 2010 census. City of New York. Retrieved 2013.
^Jones, Delmos J.; Joan Turner; 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.19126.96.36.199.
^"Funny Pages"Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Queens Tribune. Accessed October 23, 2007. "A part of Astoria funnyman Ted Alexandro could be seen in the July issue of Maxim magazine."
^Connolly, Chris. "'Voicing' her thoughts"Archived August 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Long Island Herald, September 27, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2016. "The Astoria-born Martinez, whose family moved to Baldwin when she was 4, is energetic and slightly unpolished, but she's also earnest and has an obvious love of music."
^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."
^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "But the thing I'm most excited about is being the primary investor in my wife's new venue, Q.E.D: A Place to Show and Tell. It's a space for writers, storytellers, actors, comedians, poets and creative types in our longtime neighborhood of Astoria, Queens."
^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."