Astoria, Queens

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Astoria
ResidentialAstoria2.JPG
36th Street between 30th Avenue and 31st Avenue in Astoria
Astoria, Queens
Location within New York City
Coordinates: 40°46′01″N73°55′16″W / 40.767°N 73.921°W / 40.767; -73.921 Coordinates: 40°46′01″N73°55′16″W / 40.767°N 73.921°W / 40.767; -73.921
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of New York.svg  New York
City Flag of New York City.svg  New York
County and borough Flag of Queens County, New York.svg Queens
Community District Queens 1 [1]
European settlement1659
Named for John Jacob Astor
Population
 (2010) [2]
  Total78,793 (154,000 with the subsections)
Ethnicity
[3]
  White49.2%
  Hispanic26.5%
  Asian16.2%
  Black4.5%
  Other/Multiracial3.4%
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
11101–11103, 11105, 11106
Area codes 718, 347, 929, and 917

Astoria is a neighborhood in the western portion of the New York City borough of Queens. Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City to the southwest, Sunnyside to the southeast, and Woodside to the east. As of 2019, Astoria has an estimated population of 95,446. [2]

Contents

The area was originally called Hallet's (or Hallett's) Cove after its first landowner William Hallet, who settled there in 1652 with his wife, Elizabeth Fones. Hallet's Cove was incorporated on April 12, 1839, and was later renamed for John Jacob Astor, then the wealthiest man in the United States, in order to persuade him to invest in the area. During the second half of the 19th century, economic and commercial growth brought increased immigration. Astoria and several other surrounding villages were incorporated into Long Island City in 1870, which in turn was incorporated into the City of Greater New York in 1898. Commercial activity continued through the 20th century, with the area being a center for filmmaking and industry.

Astoria is located in Queens Community District 1 [1] and its ZIP Codes are 11101, 11102, 11103, 11105, and 11106. [4] It is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 114th Precinct. [5] Politically, Astoria is represented by the New York City Council's 22nd and 26th Districts. [6]

History

Early settlement

The area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallet's Cove (also spelled Hallett's Cove), after its first landowner William Hallet, (or Hallett) who settled there in 1652 with his wife, Elizabeth Fones. The peninsula was bordered to the north by Hell Gate, to the west by the East River, and the south by Sunswick Creek. [7] :96 Hallet bought the land in 1664 from two native chiefs named Shawestcont and Erramorhar. [8] :84

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, incorporated on April 12, 1839 [9] and previously founded by fur merchant Stephen A. Halsey, was a noted recreational destination and resort for Manhattan's wealthy. [10] [11]

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 Yorkville, 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. [12]

Economic development

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. [13] 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. [14]

View of Astoria from the Triborough Bridge 24th Ave in Astoria, Queens.jpg
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 the City of Greater New York in 1898. The area's farms were turned into housing tracts and street grids to accommodate the growing number of residents. [10]

Astoria also figured prominently in early American filmmaking as one of its initial centers. [15] That heritage is preserved today by the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Demographics

30th Avenue at 36th Street 30th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, NYC.JPG
30th Avenue at 36th Street
31st Avenue at 33rd Street Astoriaqueens33rdand31st.jpg
31st Avenue at 33rd Street

For census purposes, the New York City government classifies Astoria as part of three neighborhood tabulation areas: Steinway (north of Grand Central Parkway), Old Astoria (north of 31st Avenue and approximately west of 31st Street), and Astoria (in the remaining area approximately north of Northern Boulevard / 36th Avenue and approximately west of Hobart Street / 50th Street). Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the combined population of these areas was 154,141, a decrease of 17,427 (10.2%) from the 171,568 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 2,556.2 acres (1,034.5 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 60.3 inhabitants per acre (38,600/sq mi; 14,900/km2). [2]

The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 52.2% (80,533) Non-Hispanic White, 4.7% (7,204) black, 0.2% (250) Native American, 14.3% (22,100) Asian, 0.0% (70) Pacific Islander, 1.0% (1,532) from other races, and 2.1% (3,238) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.4% (39,214) of the population. The Astoria and Old Astoria tabulation areas had greater Hispanic / Latino and Asian populations, and the Old Astoria area specifically had a greater Black population. [3]

The racial composition of Astoria changed significantly from 2000 to 2010. The most significant changes were the decrease in the Other population by 64% (8,919) and the decrease in the Hispanic / Latino population by 13% (5,705). The White majority also decreased by 2% (1,699), while the Asian minority decreased by 5% (1,120), and the change in the small Black population rounded to 0% (11). Taking into account the three census tabulation areas, the White and Asian populations both actually increased in Old Astoria, but decreased enough in Astoria and Steinway to cause an overall decrease; on the other hand, the Black population decreased in Old Astoria and increased equivalently in the other regions. The decreases in the Hispanic / Latino population and the population of all other races, however, were relatively even across the three areas. [16]

The entirety of Queens Community District 1, which includes Astoria and parts of Long Island City, is bounded to the east approximately by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 81st Street, and to the south approximately by Queens Plaza and Northern Boulevard. It had 199,969 residents according to NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 83.4 years. [17] :2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. [18] :53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 16% are between the ages of 0–17, 41% between 25 and 44, and 22% between 45 and 64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 12% respectively. [17] :2

As of 2018, the median household income in Community District 1 was $67,444. [19] 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. Around 8% of residents 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, Community District 1 is considered to be gentrifying: according to the Community Health Profile, the district was low-income in 1990 and has seen above-median rent growth up to 2010. [17] :7

Ethnic groups

Early populations

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.

Jews were also a significant ethnic and religious group. The Astoria Center of Israel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1925 after outgrowing the former Congregation Mishkan Israel, which was built in 1904. [20]

Later populations

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, tavernas, bakeries, and cafes, as well as several Greek Orthodox churches. In the late 1960s establishment a ‘Greek Town’ in Astoria. From 1960's to 1980's the number of Greeks constantly increased. 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. During the 2000s, the Greek immigration dropped again. However, during 2010's and recent economic issues in Greece have seen a resurgence of Greek immigration. Greek organizations in the area include the Hellenic American Action Committee (HANAC) and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. [21]

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. [22]

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. [23]

By the early 21st century, Astoria was one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Queens, with people from around 100 countries residing there as of 2015. [24] 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. [25]

Geography

Detail of 1896 map of Long Island City, showing Astoria and Ravenswood, from the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Long Island City map 1896.jpg
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 prior to the latter's incorporation into the City of Greater 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". [26] Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as "the Heart of Astoria". [27]

Ravenswood

Ravenswood is the name for the strip of land bordering the East River and Long Island City, and is part of Astoria. [28] It was situated around Sunswick Creek, which drained into the East River at the current location of Socrates Sculpture Park. [29]

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." [30]

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. [31] In 1870, Ravenswood, along with several other hamlets and the Village of Astoria, merged to form Long Island City. [30]

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.

The name also identifies the large electric power station established along the shore of the East River, just south of the Roosevelt Island Bridge. The Ravenswood Generating Station which includes Ravenswood No. 3 or "Big Allis", was built by Con Edison in 1963–65 but, due to deregulation, has subsequently been owned by KeySpan, National Grid, and TransCanada. The power plant can generate approximately 2,500 megawatts of power, which is about 20 percent of New York City's electricity demand. [32]

Ditmars

A street in Ditmars (2012) Ditmars Residential Neighborhood in Fall of 2012.jpg
A street in Ditmars (2012)

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. [33] 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 Abram Ditmars, the first mayor of Long Island City, New York, elected in 1870 (the city became a mere neighborhood when Queens became a part of Greater New York). His ancestors were German immigrants who settled in the Dutch Kills area in the 1600s. [34]

Astoria Heights

Astoria Heights, or Upper Ditmars, is bounded by Hazen Street to the west, La Guardia Airport to the east, Bowery Bay to the north, and Astoria Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway to the south. It is mostly a quiet middle class neighborhood of one- and two-family private homes.

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. [35] 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. [36]

Before Prohibition, there were dance halls, picnic areas, and amusement park rides at North Beach.

Ragtime composer Scott Joplin is buried across the Grand Central Parkway at St. Michael's Cemetery, which occasionally holds ragtime concerts.

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.

Places of interest

Museum of the Moving Image on 35th Avenue in Astoria MoMI2.jpg
Museum of the Moving Image on 35th Avenue in Astoria

Police and crime

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. [5] 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 2019. The precinct reported 2 murders, 34 rapes, 184 robberies, 364 felony assaults, 196 burglaries, 782 grand larcenies, and 136 grand larcenies auto in 2019. [44]

As of 2018, Queens Community District 1 has a non-fatal assault hospitalization rate of 56 per 100,000 people, compared to the boroughwide rate of 37 per 100,000 and the citywide rate of 59 per 100,000. Its incarceration rate is 277 per 100,000 people, compared to the boroughwide rate of 315 per 100,000 and the citywide rate of 425 per 100,000. [17] :8

Of the five major violent felonies (murder, rape, felony assault, robbery, and burglary), the 114th Precinct had a rate of 385 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2019, compared to the boroughwide average of 424 crimes per 100,000 and the citywide average of 572 crimes per 100,000. [45] [46] [47]

In 2019, the highest concentration of felony assaults in Astoria was on Steinway Street between 25th Avenue and 28th Avenue, where there were 11 felony assaults. The highest concentrations of robberies were on Astoria Boulevard in the southeast corner of Astoria Houses, where there were 6 robberies, and on Steinway Street between 34th Avenue and Broadway, where there were also 6. [45]

Fire safety

FDNY Engine Company 312 ResidentialAstoria3.jpg
FDNY Engine Company 312

Astoria is served by four New York City Fire Department (FDNY) fire stations: [48]

Health

As of 2018, preterm births and births to teenage mothers 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 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide). [17] :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%. [17] :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. [17] :9 Nineteen percent of Astoria residents are smokers, which is higher than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers. [17] :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. [17] :16 In addition, 22% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%. [17] :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%. [17] :13 For every supermarket in Astoria, there are 10 bodegas. [17] :10

Astoria is served by the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens. [53]

Post offices and ZIP Codes

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. [4] The United States Post Office operates five locations nearby:

Education

Astoria generally has a higher ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018. 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. [17] :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. [59]

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%. [18] :24 (PDF p. 55) [17] :6 Additionally, 78% of high school students in Astoria graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%. [17] :6

Schools

The New York City Department of Education operates Astoria's public schools. [60]

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

Libraries

Astoria Boulevard branch QPL Astoria Blvd 14th St jeh.jpg
Astoria Boulevard branch

Queens Public Library operates three branches within Astoria:

Transportation

Public transportation

A southbound W train at 30th Avenue station R46 W train at 30th Avenue.jpg
A southbound W train at 30th Avenue station

The following New York City Subway stations serve Astoria: [64]

The following MTA Regional Bus Operations bus routes serve Astoria: [65]

Astoria has been served by NYC Ferry's Astoria route [66] since August 2017. [67] [68]

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. [69] [70]

Roads

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), [71] a major commercial street with many retail stores.

A residential street in Astoria with bike lanes ResidentialAstoria1.JPG
A residential street in Astoria with bike lanes

Fourteen percent of roads in Astoria have bike lanes, higher than the rate in the city overall. [17] :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. [72]

Notable people

Born in Astoria

Raised in or moved to Astoria

Grave sites

Additionally, Astoria is 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. [121]

Night view of the Hell Gate Bridge from Astoria Park. Hellsgate Bridge.jpg
Night view of the Hell Gate Bridge from Astoria Park.

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

Film

Gaming

Literature

Music

Television

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Ditmars Boulevard, originally known as Ditmars Avenue, is a street located in northwest Queens, New York City. It is divided into two segments; one travels through the neighborhood of Ditmars, located within Astoria, and the other acts as a service road for the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport in East Elmhurst.

Q69 and Q100 buses Bus routes in Queens, New York

The Q69 and Q100 Limited bus routes constitutes a public transit line in western Queens, New York City. Beginning at Queens Plaza in Long Island City, the routes run primarily along 21st Street through the neighborhoods of Long Island City and Astoria. The Q69 makes all local stops, while the Q100 makes four limited stops along the shared corridor between Queens Plaza and Ditmars Boulevard. At Ditmars Boulevard, the Q69 turns east towards Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst near LaGuardia Airport. The Q100, meanwhile, continues north of Queens across Bowery Bay to the city jail complex on Rikers Island in the Bronx, providing the only public transit service to the island.

Sunswick Creek Buried stream in Queens, New York

Sunswick Creek is a buried stream located in Astoria and Long Island City, in the northwestern portion of Queens in New York City. It originated to the north of Queensboro Bridge and Queens Plaza in Long Island City, flowing north to the present-day site of the Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, and emptying into the East River. The creek was named for a term in the Algonquin language that likely means "Woman Chief" or "Sachem’s Wife."

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