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Astoria - Queens Neighborhood Profile


The Hell Gate Bridge

Hell Gate Bridge Looms Over Astoria Park

(c) John Roleke
Astoria is a popular neighborhood in northwest Queens whose profile has risen sharply in the last few years. It's convenient to Manhattan, it's urban but with space and greenery, and it has plenty of rental options. Dining and cultural options have grown, moving beyond ethnic eateries. Once known only as a hub of Greek life, Astoria is home to immigrants from around the world, and young people who have fled pricier Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Astoria Boundaries:
There's no doubt that Astoria's western border is the East River, but go inland and the confusion begins. Real estate brokers like to draw the southern border just north of Queens Plaza (a.k.a. "lower Astoria," but better known as Dutch Kills), though the Post Office marks it along Broadway and 31st Avenue. North/northeast is the Con Ed plant.

North of 24th Avenue and west of Steinway Street is known as Ditmars. Or go east and it's Steinway, another subneighborhood. The eastern border, with Woodside, is 50th Street.

Astoria Transportation:
Astoria is a 20-minute commute on the N or W subways to midtown Manhattan. The subway runs above ground along 31st Street.

Buses 18, 19, 19A, 101, 102, 103, and 104 criss-cross Astoria.

The Grand Central Parkway cuts through Astoria on its way to the Triborough Bridge. The last exit is at 31st Street.

The beautiful Hell Gate Bridge cuts above Astoria carrying freight and Amtrak trains.

LaGuardia Airport is a hop, skip, and jump via the Grand Central.

Astoria Real Estate and Apartments (Updated July 2007):
Though Astoria real estate prices have held steady in the last 12 months, Jim Halvatzis of Amorelli Realty says, "There's good demand for the choice properties." Rents for apartments have risen with Astoria's profile.

Two-story buildings are probably the most common housing type, with a mix of small apartment buildings, and one-, two-, and three-family homes, usually attached. There are more new condos under construction, but mostly small developments.

  • Apt: studio, $800+; 1-br, $1050-$1600; 2-br, $1300-$2200; 3-br, $1800+
  • Co-ops, $300k+
  • Condos, $350k-$500k
  • 2-Family Houses, $750k-$1.3mil
  • 1-Family Houses, $550k-$800k
Astoria Restaurants, Bakeries, and Markets:
Astoria owns the food crown of Queens, with more high-quality restaurants, bakeries, and markets than the other neighborhoods. And it's home to the last great beer garden of New York.

The Brick Cafe (30-95 33rd St), is a great Mediterranean bistro with stellar service.

San Antonio Bakery #2 (36-20 Astoria Blvd) tops hot dogs Chilean style, with guacamole, mayo, and tomatoes.

Agnanti (19-06 Ditmars) serves regional Greek fare across the street from Astoria Park.

Casual, artsy Sparrow (24-01 29th St) is the home bar for lower Manhattan transplants, and a must for its burger.

Astoria History:
Astoria dates to the colonial 1650s, when William Hallett Sr. received a land grant for what would become known as Astoria and Hallet's Cove. Stephen Halsey founded the village in 1839, naming Astoria after John Jacob Astor.

In the 1870s William Steinway built Steinway Village for workers at Steinway & Sons Piano Factory.

Waves of immigrants have made Astoria home, from Czechs in the 1890s to Brazilians in the 1990s. Though it's famous for Greeks, Italians were more numerous here until recently.

Astoria Main Streets and Shopping:
Astoria's main drags are 30th Avenue, Steinway, Ditmars, and Broadway. Ditmars and 30th Avenue are Greek and Cypriot areas. Broadway has more Latin American flavor, and is the crossroads of Astoria hipster life. Steinway just south of Astoria Boulevard is a Little Egypt with lots of Middle Eastern cafes, markets, and shops. Steinway is the main shopping street.

It's amazing how quickly the southern reaches of the neighborhood have changed since the late 1990s. Once barren, industrial streets are now home to restaurants and cafes.

Green Spaces, Landmarks, and Museums:
Astoria Park (19th St between Ditmars and Hoyt) is on the East River with superb Manhattan views and a huge outdoor pool, which suffers from a poor reputation. ARROW Park (35-38 35th St) is a community garden. Athens Square Park (30th Ave and 30th St) is a hot spot.

Museum of the Moving Image is a real treasure for film history and fun hands-on activities (e.g., voice dubbing), or for watching classic films on the big screen. Next door is Kaufman-Astoria Studios, once Paramount's East Coast production facility, and now a stage for TV shows.

Socrates Sculpture Park is in Ravenswood, but close enough.

Crime and Safety in Astoria:
Astoria is a safe neighborhood. Street crime is seldom experienced in the busy sections, but gambling and prostitution are not uncommon. The more desolate areas, especially the waterfront parks, are best avoided at night, as should be crowded Astoria Pool on a sweltering day.

The 114th Precinct (including parts of Long Island City (including Queensbridge), Woodside, and Jackson Heights) reported the following crimes for the year-to-date (7/8/07): 3 murders (5 in 2006), 11 rapes (20 in 2006), 150 robberies (222 in 2006), 150 felonious assaults (131 in 2006), and 212 burglaries (239 in 2006).

Neighborhood Basics:
  • Astoria Problems: Trash and litter, traffic, congestion, and overdevelopment are community concerns. Con Ed's power plant makes Astoria one of the worst neighborhoods in New York for air pollution and asthma rates. Astoria was hit hard in the 2006 blackout. Tension between old-time residents and new arrivals is not uncommon.
  • Famous Residents: Singer Tony Bennett and actor Christopher Walken both grew up in Astoria.
  • Parking: Side streets are hit-or-miss.
  • Post Office: 27-40 21st St, Astoria, NY 11102
  • Hospital: Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens (formerly Astoria General Hospital, formerly Western Queens Community Hospital), 25-10 30th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11102
  • Movies: The best venue in New York for classics is at the Museum of the Moving Image (35 Ave at 36 St). New Hollywood flicks play at the United Artists Kaufman Astoria Stadium 16 (35-30 38th St). (Spider-Man 3 had its premiere here.)
  • Police Station: 114th Precinct, 34-16 Astoria Blvd, Astoria, NY 11103, 718-626-9311
  • Community Board 1: 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, 718-786-3335
  • Banking: Find local and national banks on Steinway, Ditmars, and 30th Ave in Astoria.
  • Health Club: Astoria Sports Complex has a pool and batting cages, in addition to the typical gym offerings, 34-38 38th St, 718-472-4455
  • Zip Code: 11102, 11103, 11105, and parts of 11106
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