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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Astoria, Queens

Yesterday I went to Long Island City to visit my son. I thought it would be important for those who are not familiar with this area to include some facts about this wonderful and colorful neighborhood adjacent to Manhattan.
In 1870, Astoria and other sorrounding villages, were integrated into Long Island City, which remained as an independent municipality until it was incorporated into New York City in 1898.
Astoria, has turned into one of the best places to live in Long Island City and  into the home of many professionals who prefer to reside near, but not inside Manhattan; and as a consequence, the appraisal of its real estate market is improving.  From a neighborhood which was basically Greek during the second half of the nineteenth century, it has transformed into a multiethnic space.  Now we can find, a great variety of people from different nationalities living together and sharing their languages and cultures. We can find along the neighborhod immigrants from Arabic countries,Italy, France, Brazil Ireland, Mexico, Colombia, and many countries of Central America.
Astoria was originally called Hallet's Cove, after his first landowner, William Hallet, who settled there in the 1700's.  It was also home to many wealthy New Yorkers, who built large residences in this area.
Its actual name comes after John Jacob Astor, a very wealthy man who invested in the neighborhood.The Steinway section of Astoria was named after Heinrich Steinweg, who in 1853 established Steinway Village for the workers of his famous piano company, Steinway and Sons.
In Astoria you can fin the best variety of international food I have ever seen.  As you travel through Ditmars St., Broadway or 31st Street and Steinway Street, you cannot decide easily which restaurant are you going to visit.  Mostly young people invade the bars and eateries, especially during the evenings and well into the early morning hours. Whether you choose a french restaurant like Pomme, a Brazilian like Cafe Brasil, a Colombian like the colorful collector's eatery "El Basurero" or an Italian Pizza Place, you can be sure that you are being treated to the best food for much less than what you can spend in a trendy Manhattan restaurant.  The ambiance is superb, and you can be sure that you will dine out in an elegant and welcoming place.
Astoria is also home to the Museum of the Moving Image, which possesses the nation's largest collection of artifacts relating to the art, history and techology of the moving image.
Also, Astoria Park, built by the East River, is the neighborhood's largest park and contains the biggest New York City Public Pool, former site of the 1936 and 1964US Olympic trials.
The Isamu Noguchi Museum exhibits the work of this Japanese-American Sculptor and has an outdoor sculpture garden. It is open year round.
Astoria can also boast of having the oldest beer garden in New York City, the Bohemian Hall, founded in 1910.
The Hell Gate Bridge,originally the East River Arch Bridge, opened in 1916 as a way to connect railroad traffic from Pennsyvania Railroad routes in New Jersey, into New York and New England. It was also going to tie with Long Island Railroad routes, in which the Pennsylvania Railroad had a controlling interest. The architect who designed the bridge was Gustav Lindenthal. When it opened, it was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world; until the construction of the Bayonne Bridge in 1931. It was called like that because it crossed a portion of the East River that had treacherous currents separating Queens from Ward's Island, an Island which housed a large mental hospital. One of the four tracks in the bridge is no longer in use. Its restoration and painting in "Hell Red Color"was completed in 1996. In 2009, another project to refurbish its concrete walls and  painting of the arch span, was completed.
Lets go to Astoria, Queens, a diverse neighborhood with multicultural features and wonderful, wonderful, food!!!



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