Astoria's western border is the East River. The southern border is just north of Queens Plaza, though the Post Office marks it along Broadway and 31st Avenue. The eastern border with Woodside is 50th Street.
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 famous for Greeks, Italians-Americans were more numerous until recently.
Long Island City lies in western Queens across the East River from Manhattan. The history of Long Island City spans more than 360 years from its humble beginning as Dutch farmland in the 1640s to its growth into a residential and commercial hub. On the western shore of Queens, Long Island City borders the East River to the north and west (spanning the length of midtown Manhattan to Harlem), Newtown creek to the south, and 51st/Hobart Street to the east. Although it has always been an integral part of the history of New York City, Long Island City has its own unique past.
Chartered in 1870, Long Island City was the merging of the village of Astoria and several hamlets such as Steinway, Ravenswood, and Hunters Point. Long Island City existed independently from New York City for 28 years until it was incorporated by the City of New York in the consolidation of 1898.
During the late 1800's, there was an increase in the commercial and industrial life of New York City, bringing about an increase in European immigration and a greater demand for real estate in Astoria. This era marked the beginning of the German settlement of Astoria by German cabinet makers. Few people have done so much to transform a country village into a community as the German immigrant Henry Steinway, patriarch of the Steinway Piano factory. After building a piano factory in 1853, Steinway and his family erected both a sawmill and a foundry. They carved out streets and opened a streetcar line; they built what was known as Steinway Village, complete with Victorian row houses, a church, and a school where German was taught as a second language. They also provided workers with one of the first free kindergartens in the United States.
The Long Island Rail Road terminal was built on Hunters Point in 1861, which helped the district become an industrial center during the Civil War. After the villages were consolidated into Long Island City, the new city government encouraged developing industry; gas plants, chemical and glass factories soon lined the East River waterfront.
The status of Astoria was changed in 1898, when it became part of greater New York City. Large farms and country estates were transformed into housing tracts for single family homes and apartment complexes. The largest gasworks in New York State and a railroad trestle for the Pennsylvania Railroad were constructed. By the end of the 19th century, the city had the highest concentration of industry in the United States.
In 1909, the biggest transformation began with the opening of the Queensboro Bridge, immediately changing the community from a remote suburb to a destination minutes from Manhattan. Continuing this expansion, the Second Avenue elevated train opened in 1917, connecting Long Island City even more closely to Manhattan. The Queensboro Bridge and the Second Avenue train proved only to be the beginning of the routes in and out of Long Island City. The Triboro Bridge, linking Manhattan, Bronx & Queens, was finished on July 11th, 1936. Today, Long Island City is connected with the rest of New York City by six tunnels and five bridges. The development of bridges, tunnels and roads helped make Long Island City an accessible and vital industrial area for New York City.
Astoria Pool opened with much fanfare on the fourth of July in the scorching summer of 1936 on the first day of the Olympic trials. It was the best of 10 pools that opened within a 10-week span in what was dubbed as “the swimming pool year”. It is still the city's largest pool (54,450 sq. ft.). Tens of thousands have enjoyed the warm water of Astoria Pool since its opening.
The Astoria branch is located at the corner Astoria Boulevard and 14th Street in Astoria. The branch opened on November 19th 1904. The total construction cost was $47,208.09. An addition was added to the original building in 1936. WPA artist Max Spivak’s circus mural graces the wall of the Adult room. The branch is 8600 square feet. The orange brick building stands one story high.
More information about the community of Astoria is available from the following sources:
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one of two American men and one of three American women will have some type of cancer at some point during their lifetime. Queens Library HealthLink seeks to increase access to cancer screening and cancer treatment among medically underserved communities in Queens. Queens Library HealthLink is a partnership between Queens Library, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital and the American Cancer Society.