The Ditmars neighborhood is the northernmost part of Astoria, and is home to newcomers and long time residents alike. It's known for is quieter atmosphere, good eats, and ample places to rest and relax. Here are 7 reasons why the Ditmars neighborhood is such a great place to live.
Though you might think that living a little bit farther from Midtown is a negative, those who live in the Ditmars appreciate being at the end of the N/Q line because it almost always guarantees a seat on the train during the morning commute. On seriously cold days or excruciatingly hot days, sitting on the train has its benefits, too. No worries about your stop being skipped when the train suddenly becomes an express train, either.
Considered by some to be the real deal when it comes to outdoor beer gardens, the Bohemian Hall Beer Garden has been around almost 100 years longer than that "other" beer garden (Studio Square). Combine Czech and Slovak food traditions - sausage, spaetzle, and Staropramen - with a large, inviting open space, and you've got an recipe for pure enjoyment at this popular outdoor watering hole. Bonus: the Astoria Market, a marketplace featuring local artisans and craftspeople, takes place in adjacent Bohemian Hall on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
3. Pizza in Ditmars
The Ditmars neighborhood has an amazing array of pizza options. From savory bakery pizza at Rose & Joes, to classic street slices from Alba's, to the incredible Sophia Loren pie at Michael Angelo's, there is a pizza for everyone. Hey, pizza is every New Yorker's birthright. Ditmars denizens are just more blessed than most with so many great choices for this savory staple.
4. Astoria Park
One can't sing its praises enough - Astoria Park is truly the crown jewel of the Western Queens waterfront. While visited year-round, it is an especially popular destination during summer, thanks to a gigantic WPA-era swimming pool (the oldest in the city), the all-weather running track, and the expansive green lawn just south of the Hellgate Bridge that's perfect for a picnic or a nap. There's also a bocce court, a butterfly garden, and a playground for the kids. If you're lucky, you might even catch a film crew working there, as Astoria Park has been a favored location for TV and movie shoots for many years.
The Ditmars neighborhood is home to one best looking bridges on the East River - the Hell Gate Bridge. It's used by both freight trains and Amtrak, and its curvaceous shape served as the inspiration for the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia. The Hell Gate Bridge was conceived in the early part of the 20th century and completed on September 30, 1916. Its beautiful eastern masonry tower is planted in Astoria Park, and can be easily viewed and touched from there.
One of the most captivating public religious ceremonies in the city happens every year on the eve of Pascha (Friday before Orthodox Easter), in the Ditmars neighborhood. The street procession, known as epitaphios, starts on 23rd Ave in front of St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery, proceeds along 31st St to Ditmars, ending at St. Markella Cathedral on 26th St. Congregants from the Greek Orthodox community participate. As you smell the incense and hear the brass band playing, you'll see girls dressed in white satin robes, older women in black robes, and men carrying the floral tomb containing a representation of Jesus. Best place to view the procession is outside local Greek bakery Lefkos Pyrgos on the corner of 31st St and 23rd Ave.
Open since 2005, this little performance space/café is one of the warmest spots on Ditmars Boulevard. Song Gonzalez, along with her husband Pedro showcase local musical talent in the form of numerous shows, and even a singer songwriter contest à la American Idol. They also host kids sing-a-longs and open mikes, and even provide a home for comic book fans to meet and share their passion with each other. Their menu is simple yet engaging (sandwiches, cakes, espresso), and with a liquor license in hand they offer a fabulous sangria, a thoughtful wine selection, and a fine selection of bottled beers. The laptop crowd is welcome to partake in the free wifi, too.