We will discuss "Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin" by Jill Lepore, a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother’s fame and wealth.
The area of Queens comprising Steinway and Astoria was formerly known by the Algonquian name of Sunswick, derived from the word Sunkisq, meaning "woman chief." In 1839 developer Stephen A. Halsey incorporated the village of Astoria, which he named in honor of fur trader and landowner John Jacob Astor. Within a few decades, the area was home to a number of wealthy merchants, a substantial German-American community, and the Steinway piano company. As the name of the neighborhood suggests, it began as home to Steinway & Sons, the legendary piano maker and transit magnate in the early days of the trolley car. In 1870 William Steinway, son of the original company founder Henry Steinway, (nee Steinweg) bought 400 acres of land in northwest Queens and moved the operations from their original headquarters in Manhattan, to their new home, which continues its production in the same area today. Along with the factory, he also built Steinway Village, a company town with its own post office, park for recreation, housing for employees, and with a church, library, kindergarten school, and public trolley line. Unlike many other factory towns of the time, Steinway Village was not built exclusively for workers (employees only accounted for about one third of the inhabitants) since they treated the property as a real- estate investment, selling land and houses. On May 4, 1870, Astoria, Hunter’s Point, Steinway, and Ravenswood consolidated to become Long Island City.
Even though the ease of a commute from Steinway into Manhattan has transformed the neighborhood into a bustling mix of ethnicities and styles, vestiges of old Steinway still survive even today. Two-story brick houses continue to stand on 20th Avenue and 41st Street. They boast stone window lintels and recessed entrances. Built before 1880 as housing for factory employees, they are Landmark quality homes. And the Steinway mansion built by William Steinway is still a private residence on 41 Street, originally Albert Street, named for one of his sons. 42 Street was also formerly named Theodore Street, for another one of William Steinway’s sons.
Near the library on 37th street there is meter parking along with 2 pay-to-park parking lots. (One parking lot is located at 30th Avenue and 38th Street, just West of Steinway Street and the other one is at Steinway Street between 31 Avenue and Broadway). Street parking is also available.