Whether you're a new Astorian or you've been here for years, every Astoria resident can benefit from the work of the Greater Astoria Historical Society (GAHS). As they proclaim on their website, the organization "is a passport to a year of historical journey to our community's history." They've tasked themselves with the job of preserving the history of Western Queens and sharing it with the world, and they do that job very well.
The Society, a non-profit organization, has been around since 1985. Located on the 4th Floor of the Quinn Building on Broadway, they are a treasure trove of Astoria and Long Island City local history. When you exit out of the elevator, you are greeted by images of Astoria's past up on the walls; more pictures are displayed inside their office, and they are fascinating. Additionally, their collection of historical images is accessible on their website, so you can peruse them at your leisure from the privacy of your own home.
Throughout the year, they bring Astoria's history to the community with walking tours, lectures, special exhibits, and book signings. GAHS staff makes themselves available to local schools for educational sessions, as well. Recent events have included a history roundtable, conversations exploring the history of social movements, and a walking tour of Old Astoria Village. Their yearly Halloween walking tour (costumes are always welcome!) is always a hit, too.
Want to become more involved with the Greater Astoria Historical Society? The simplest way is to become a member. As of this writing (April 2011) dues are $20 for individuals, $30 for families, and $15 for seniors and students. Membership does have its rewards, including free admission to lectures, and the opportunity to participate more fully in the Society. Monthly meetings are first Mondays at 7 p.m.