Located in northwest Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City, Astoria
is situated a mere six miles across the East River from Manhattan. Traditionally a Greek and Italian neighborhood, recent times have seen an influx of Brazilians, Bangladeshis, Eastern Europeans, Colombians and Egyptians to the area. Lively and welcoming, down-to-earth and diverse, Astoria provides varied culinary options, great shopping and quiet residential streets.
Astoria has a rich history and has made great contributions to American culture. Home to Kaufman Astoria Studios, the original home of Paramount Pictures in 1920, the neighborhood was in the forefront of the motion picture industry. Today, the studio is one of the largest and most sophisticated production facilities on the East Coast. Steinway and Sons has been constructing its legendary pianos in Astoria since the late 19th century. The neighborhood has often been featured in film, television and other media, either as Astoria or as a setting for another location in New York City.
Schools in Astoria
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Restaurants & Nightlife
A true melting pot, Astoria has long been considered the ethnic food mecca of New York City. With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, residents can eat their way around the globe without ever leaving home.
If you can eat only one meal in Astoria, make it Greek. One of the most popular spots, Taverna Kyclades can be found on Ditmars Boulevard at the northern end of Astoria. Acclaimed citywide for authentic Greek cuisine, there are often long waits for a table (the restaurant does not take reservations), but the food will be well worth the wait. There are two dining rooms, including one with a beautiful hand-painted mural depicting Kyclades, the world famous Greek isles. At Taverena Kyclades, quality and taste matter. Whether you choose traditional favorites like saganaki, souvlaki or spicy Greek sausage, or you opt for the grilled branzino or calamari, you’ll appreciate the fresh ingredients and the friendly service.
In a community with no shortage of fine Italian restaurants, diners have come to the critically acclaimed Piccola Venezia since 1973 for traditional Northern Italian dishes. Homemade pastas, the freshest seafood, meats and game and a world-class wine list ensure visitors a first-rate meal every time they visit. An attentive and helpful wait staff and a décor with old-world charm guarantee a delightful experience. After enjoying dishes such as ravioli ai tre formaggi, shrimp scampi Adriatico and veal chop Sorrentino, be sure to save room for the unique pistachio cannoli. You will definitely leave Piccola Venezia feeling like a member of the family.
If you are in the mood for something out of the ordinary, try The Thirsty Koala. Serving a varied menu of American favorites along with Australian specialties, the restaurant focuses on minimizing the carbon footprint. This is accomplished by using only locally grown, natural organic fruits, vegetables, breads and desserts, eggs and dairy products, along with free-range, grass-fed hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. The restaurant even makes its own goat cheese and farmer’s cheese using organic milk. Dishes from down under include herb-crusted Aussie lamb lollies, served with a lime vinaigrette. Also try the coolangatta crostini, topped with the aforementioned homemade goat cheese, cucumber, pineapple salsa, mint and honey. Locals enjoy the kangaroo sliders and burgers, as well as the free-range kangaroo filet, served with kumara and sautéed seasonal vegetables. Since kangaroo meat is extremely lean, the kitchen will only prepare it rare or medium rare. The wait staff consists of friendly native Aussies.
Pao & Cha Cha brings a fusion of Asian and Latin cuisines to Astoria. Owned and operated by a husband and wife team, natives of Caracas, the restaurant’s unique offerings are a blend of Chinese and Venezuelan dishes with everything made on the premises. Due to limited seating, Pao & Cha Cha focuses on to-go foods and catering, as well as cooking classes. Be sure not to miss the empanadas, blistered from the fryer with a choice of four fillings: cheese, chicken, pulled pork or molida. The wontons burst with pork and scallions and are served with an unusual dipping sauce made from tropical fruit puree.
More than just great food, Astoria also has a great nightlife at landmarks scattered throughout the neighborhood. One of the oldest hotspots, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, was named one of the best beer gardens in the country by Food and Wine magazine. For over 100 years, the vast Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden has been serving Czech and German beers, hearty food and live music. There is no better place to enjoy a cold brew on a summer day than the sprawling, authentic outdoor beer garden. The place is owned and operated by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria, a group created to encourage, support and maintain the Czech and Slovak cultures and blend them with American traditions and cultures.
There are many other clubs, bars, and music venues in Astoria. Some of the most popular spots are the Bungalo and both the Shillelagh Tavern and The Quays are Irish pubs that showcase local talent on a regular basis. Every Sunday night, the Astoria Tango Club transports patrons to 1950s Buenos Aires, where they can learn to dance and enjoy Spanish dishes and wines.
History & Culture
Originally known as Hallet’s Cove, the community was renamed Astoria in an attempt to persuade America’s richest man, John Jacob Astor, to invest in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the plan backfired as he only invested $500.
Astoria has three venues that delight arts and culture lovers. The Museum of the Moving Image, the only institution in the country dedicated to the art, technology and social impact of film, television and digital media, has the largest collection of moving-image artifacts in the US and features hundreds of screenings a year.
Celebrating the life and work of sculptor and artist Isamu Noguchi, The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City
offers a free tour each day.
Next, head to the Socrates Sculpture Park an outdoor museum featuring large-scale exhibitions as well as educational programs and community events, like outdoor movie screenings and farmers markets in the summer.
Astoria can actually be thought of as a collection of smaller neighborhoods, centered on each of the five main thoroughfares: 36th Avenue, Broadway, 30th Avenue, Ditmars Boulevard (which runs east to west) and Steinway Street (which runs north to south). Taken one or two at a time, they are easy to navigate on foot.
Many residents own cars, and as with most neighborhoods in the city, finding a free parking spot can be a challenge. There are public garages and municipal lots, but they are too expensive for long-term options. Some private homes
do have attached garages.
Cyclists can take advantage of bike lanes along Vernon Avenue, 20th Avenue, 21st Street, 34th and 36th Avenues, and have access to protected paths crossing the RFK Bridge onto Randalls and Wards Islands.
People flock to Astoria because of its proximity and generally easy commute to midtown Manhattan, a trip that usually takes around 15-20 minutes via the N or W subway lines. For those who work in lower Manhattan, the trip will be longer, but still manageable. The cost to ride the subway round trip is $5, but there are multi-fare discounts available.
The MTA also operates a number of bus routes connecting Astoria to Manhattan and other points in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Business and leisure travelers can take advantage of either bus or subway service to nearby LaGuardia Airport. The RFK/Triborough Bridge connects Astoria to both Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as points in Westchester, New Jersey and beyond.
Taxis and ride-share services like Uber provide other options for transportation.
Housing options in the neighborhood include a mix of older multi-family homes, converted condominiums
and newer apartment buildings. For rentals, the median price for a one-bedroom
apartment sits at $2,000 per month.
Way more affordable than Manhattan, the cost of living in Astoria is nearly 58 percent greater than the national average. Gas prices hover around 10 percent higher than the national average, while beer drinkers can expect to pay between $5 and $9 per bottle, depending on the brand.
On the streets of Astoria’s main shopping areas - 30th Avenue, Steinway, Ditmars and Broadway - national chains sit side-by-side with hundreds of charming independently owned shops and boutiques.
The Little Soap Shop, located on 36th Street off Ditmars Boulevard, creates individually hand-made, hand-cut and hand-wrapped soaps, lotions, body butters and candles. Owner Vivi Dritsas uses only pure, sustainable and organic ingredients, such as fresh, dried herbs and salts from the Dead Sea.
Family owned since 2006, Inside Astoria sells a mélange of items that range from products for infants and children, handmade jewelry, picture frames, quirky coffee table books, pieces of furniture and lamps. This delightful shop also features a variety of Astoria-themed goods like t-shirts, magnets and greeting cards.
With a name inspired by an old Astoria street name, Lockwood Shop shines as the neighborhood’s premier lifestyle store. The space includes Lockwood Style, a clothing store for women from size 2 through 20. Not only does this community-centric shop carry everything from chic housewares to modern furniture, but it also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including cooking classes for kids, the Astoria Arts Festival and the Queens County Market.
Locals have many options when shopping for groceries, including Euro Market, Best Market and Titan Foods. The Astoria Farmers Market is also available all day on Wednesdays from July through November. Furthermore, the Queens area houses more than 10 other farmers markets.
Astoria Park's 60 lush acres make it a neighborhood gem. Situated on the East River, with views of the Manhattan skyline and the RFK/Triborough and Hells Gate Bridges, the benches along its perimeter are popular all year round. The park has a swimming pool (the oldest and largest in New York City) that was the site of the qualifying events for both the 1936 and 1964 Olympics. An outdoor track, a bandstand, multiple trails, a skate park, basketball, bocce and tennis courts and playgrounds attract not only locals, but also people from throughout New York City and beyond. Dogs are welcome in certain areas of the park and can roam and play freely, off-leash, in a specially designated section. A variety of events are held at the park, including the Astoria Park Festival in June and the Waterfront Concert Series, held on the great lawn all summer long.
Another popular gathering space in Astoria is Athens Square Park, originally acquired in 1963 to be developed as a playground, primarily for nearby P.S. 17. When the park was to be renovated in 1990, a community-based group, Athens Square, Inc., set out to ensure the park would become “a little bit of Athens in Astoria.” The spot includes an amphitheater and a trio of granite Doric columns, along with bronze sculptures of three prominent Greeks: Socrates, Aristotle and Athena. A recreational area with a playground and perimeter seating, including chess tables, complete the popular space. It is also the site of numerous summer concerts and events, such as Greek Night and Italian Night.
The A.R.R.O.W. Field House has a community garden and an outdoor basketball court. The Field House hosts numerous programs, including pre-school offerings, karate lessons and a variety of fitness
classes like yoga and Zumba.