Astoria was first settled in the 17th century. This diverse neighborhood is home to many national cultures from all over the world. Walking down the streets of Astoria may lead you to believe that you are in Greece, due to the large population of Greek-Americans in this community. It consists of many other cultures that make Astoria an energetic and a pleasant place to live.
It is said that the first white man to discover Astoria was Adrien Block. The first people to dwell in Astoria were the Algonquin Indians. Astoria was also known as Hallet's Cove, until the nineteenth century when it was named for John Jacob Astor. It was named after this well-known fur trader and millionaire because another fur trader named Stephen A. Halsey petitioned to the state legislature. He believed that Astor could be an invaluable economic supporter of Astoria. Although named in his honor, the expectations of financial success proved to be false. However, the name remained.
Astoria was also home to the filmmaking industry because it had the largest production company of motion pictures on the east coast. It was called Kaufmann-Astoria Studios, opened in 1920. Along with the studio, Astoria is also famous for Steinway, who built a piano factory.
Astoria is a true example of a melting pot. Its population is mainly made up of Greeks, but also has the influence of other cultures such as Asians, South Americans and Italians. Because of the Second World War, Astoria was initially made up of Italians. After 1965, Greek residents quickly started to inhabit Astoria. Traditional neighborhoods in the area include Dominican, Indian, Ecuadorian, Korean, Romanian, Chinese, Filipino, and Columbian immigrants. Many of them came to Astoria because this community offered a low cost of living.
One place you must visit in Astoria is the Museum of the Moving Image. It is a fascinating museum of the art, history, and technology of media in America. There are other museums that you can visit as well, like the Socrates Sculpture Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum. If you don't want to spend money, you can just take a stroll through Astoria Park. You can learn about many cultures just going to one of these museums or the park.
There are many ethnic shops in Astoria. Most residents like the locality of Astoria, so instead of going to the big Costco located on 32-50 Vernon, they go to the vegetables stands. The residents in Astoria don't eat in their homes as much as they eat out. You can go to restaurants like Telly's Taverna located on 28-12 23rd Avenue, which serves delicious Greek seafood. If you want to taste a little bit of Colombia, you can go to Pollo a la Brasa Mario located on 40-19 Broadway.
Astoria is a very diverse community. If you plan on going there someday, one can expect an adventure in food, culture, and entertainment. So go ahead and explore this neighborhood community. You will be surprised at how much you can learn.
by Elishabeth Kim