Astoria – New York

 

Astoria is a neighbourhood in the New York Borough of Queens. It is the westernmost part of the borough of Queens and is just across the East River from Manhattan’s exclusive Upper East Side. Is considered “Suburban”, even if it’s actually very close to Manhattan. It’s only a 20-minute subway ride  from Manhattan and this makes it popular with people who work in Manhattan but who can’t afford to live there. Here you can find single-room apartments larger than the “shoeboxes”that are available for rent in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, Astoria is enjoying a boom. Properties have doubled in value in the last five years.

Astoria is on the western shore , or the western coast of Queens, which means that it touches the East River, and the East River is what separates Queens from Manhattan, so there are some properties , some of them are residential, there are some factories, there are some parks that have great views of Manhattan, and in some cases it´s really spectacular, especially at night when all the lights are on from the Midtown . You’re usually looking at Midtown Manhattan up to the north, to the Upper East Side. There’s a place called Astoria Park where people like to gather  during hot summer nights just to hang out  because the views is spectacular; you have the river right there and then you have Manhattan in the background; oh, and you’re sitting in a nice park with trees and whatnot .

Astoria is named in honour of John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant who, in the nineteenth century, became the wealthiest  man in America. By using the name Astoria, developers hoped that Astor would invest in the place. In actual fact he invested very little and he never even  went there, but the name stuck .

In the 1950s, there was a huge economic problems in Greece and a lot of Greeks moved to the United States and settled  in Astoria. So it’s sort of  traditionally people think Astoria, they think Greek. There’s a lot of truth of that, there are all kinds of Greek restaurants, Greek night clubs, of course Greek people. Whenever  there’s an independence day, a Greek independence day or a Greek soccer  teams wins, people are always in the street, partying  and having fun. Needless to say, there are some wonderful Greek restaurants where the fish is delicious. In many cases there isn’t even a menu: you choose the fish on display and they grill it for you. And whereas Manhattan residents live in large apartment buildings, Astoria has many two-and three- story houses.

Along with the Greeks there’s always been a large Italian population, or Italian-American population. You can always tell the Italian Americans because they grow  grapes in their front yards. When you walk by a street and you see grapes growing in a front yard , it usually means that it’s an Italian person who’s making wine. They have tiny  front yards that often feature statues of the Virgin Mary. For this we have to thank Astoria’s Italian community.

But Astoria’s population has changed in recent years. Some of the Greeks and Italians have moved out, I mean their children, they’re more American and they’re moving to other neighbourhoods in the suburbs and whatnot but there’s been a tremendous  influx of, really, people from everywhere in the world. If I would just start on the south part of Astoria there’s a Bangladeshi street where there are a row of Bangladesh stores where you can buy all their spices and their saris and their clothes. There’s a Brazilian section where you can get Brazilian food, again buy clothes and stuff from Brazil. There is a part that they call Little Egypt, there’s a Cairo Steakhouse , there a couple of Egyptian restaurants and there are hookah bars . Hookah is very popular throughout  the Arab world and there are a whole bunch of hookah bars in the northern part of Astoria where people sit around and they smoke hookahs and they play chess  a lot and drink tea. There’s a great Chilean restaurant, we have Japanese, Korean, there’s a Lebanese place, so there’s a tremendous mix of really just about everywhere, every continent you could ask for.

 

Licencia Creative Commons Contenido Web de Yolanda Muriel está sujeto bajo Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 3.0 Unported.

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Acerca de Yolanda Muriel
Arquitecta, ingeniera de edificación y Arquitecta técnica Barcelona, España

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