Greater Astoria Historical Society

Greater Astoria Historical Society Greater Astoria Historical Society is dedicated to preserving our past and using it to promote our future through walking tours, lectures, educational programming, community events, research, & more.
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Join us! The Greater Astoria Historical Society (GAHS) is a non-profit cultural and historical organization located in Astoria, Queens, New York, dedicated to preserving the past and promoting the future of the neighborhoods that are part of historic Long Island City, including; the Village of Astoria, Blissville, Bowery Bay, Dutch Kills, Hunters Point, Ravenswood, Steinway Village and Sunnyside.

Operating as usual

Well, this was a lot of fun! Bob Singleton-NewYork
05/06/2021

Well, this was a lot of fun! Bob Singleton-NewYork

WATCH Queens Conversations: Neighborhood Notes-Astoria Thursday, May 6th @ 3 PM on QPTV.org, Facebook, Spectrum 34/1995, RCN 82, and Verizon Fios 34

This is the second edition of the podcast by Heather Quinlan on the 86 Mets.https://soundcloud.com/heather-quinlan/86d-a...
04/11/2021
86'd: A Podcast About the '86 Mets Film that Didn't Get Made - Episode Two: Did We Talk About P***y?

This is the second edition of the podcast by Heather Quinlan on the 86 Mets.

https://soundcloud.com/heather-quinlan/86d-a-podcast-about-the-86-mets-film-that-didnt-get-made-episode-two-did-we-talk-about-py

Lenny Dykstra talks about being Nails, how the '86 Mets didn't party like the '90s Phillies, and how he had better drugs than Tony Gwynn. Dykstra ended up being one of the most open and approachable M

Happy Birthday to the Father of Astoria This week we celebrate the birthday of a New York merchant who changed a communi...
04/06/2021

Happy Birthday to the Father of Astoria

This week we celebrate the birthday of a New York merchant who changed a community, Stephen Alling Halsey.

Stephen Alling Halsey was born in New York on April 7, 1798, the son of a carpenter and lumber dealer. The Halseys had come originally from England and then moved via Massachusetts and Southampton, L.I. and New Jersey to New York City. Stephen became involved in the fur business in New York with his older brother John and in the 1830's the two were in business together under the name of John C. Halsey & Co. at 185 Water Street. In 1834 Stephen Halsey purchased a residence in Flushing and in commuting back and forth to New York by steamboat daily, he could not help noticing the green Astoria peninsula at Hell Gate and how rural and attractive it looked despite its close proximity to the city. Within a year's time he gave up his Flushing residence and removed to Hell Gate.

How much of a village was already present in Astoria when Halsey settled there in 1835? We have no reliable information, for the census of 1830 and 1840 lists persons by townships only (Newtown) and gives no specific addresses. We do know that the ferry landing was a busy enough spot to account for a few houses and taverns; there were several farms and enough of a local population to encourage the founding of St. George's Protestant Episcopal Church in 1828.

Halsey, on settling at Astoria, conceived the idea of founding a new village complete with dwellings, stores, factories, schools churches, etc. Being by now a man of means, Halsey was able to indulge his whim and this soon turned into a consuming passion and lifelong commitment. He was fortunate in securing the help and cooperation of his elder brother, John C. Halsey who negotiated his first purchase, the Perrot Farm, on 4th Street and the Blackwell Farm up to 8th Street, embracing nearly all the land lying between Pot Cove and Hallett's Cove. Between 1835 and 1840 Halsey energetically developed his land into the nucleus of a village, laying out streets and erecting houses and stores. He applied for and secured permission from the Legislature to build new wharves at the ferry slip and bought out the rights to Hell Gate ferry itself in order to modernize and improve it.

The rise of Astoria as a population center induced Captain Peck of Flushing to stop his fast little steamer, the "Washington Irving" at Astoria several times a day on its run between Flushing and New York.
From: “300 Years of Long Island City History” by Vincent Seyfried

Happy Birthday to the Father of Astoria

This week we celebrate the birthday of a New York merchant who changed a community, Stephen Alling Halsey.

Stephen Alling Halsey was born in New York on April 7, 1798, the son of a carpenter and lumber dealer. The Halseys had come originally from England and then moved via Massachusetts and Southampton, L.I. and New Jersey to New York City. Stephen became involved in the fur business in New York with his older brother John and in the 1830's the two were in business together under the name of John C. Halsey & Co. at 185 Water Street. In 1834 Stephen Halsey purchased a residence in Flushing and in commuting back and forth to New York by steamboat daily, he could not help noticing the green Astoria peninsula at Hell Gate and how rural and attractive it looked despite its close proximity to the city. Within a year's time he gave up his Flushing residence and removed to Hell Gate.

How much of a village was already present in Astoria when Halsey settled there in 1835? We have no reliable information, for the census of 1830 and 1840 lists persons by townships only (Newtown) and gives no specific addresses. We do know that the ferry landing was a busy enough spot to account for a few houses and taverns; there were several farms and enough of a local population to encourage the founding of St. George's Protestant Episcopal Church in 1828.

Halsey, on settling at Astoria, conceived the idea of founding a new village complete with dwellings, stores, factories, schools churches, etc. Being by now a man of means, Halsey was able to indulge his whim and this soon turned into a consuming passion and lifelong commitment. He was fortunate in securing the help and cooperation of his elder brother, John C. Halsey who negotiated his first purchase, the Perrot Farm, on 4th Street and the Blackwell Farm up to 8th Street, embracing nearly all the land lying between Pot Cove and Hallett's Cove. Between 1835 and 1840 Halsey energetically developed his land into the nucleus of a village, laying out streets and erecting houses and stores. He applied for and secured permission from the Legislature to build new wharves at the ferry slip and bought out the rights to Hell Gate ferry itself in order to modernize and improve it.

The rise of Astoria as a population center induced Captain Peck of Flushing to stop his fast little steamer, the "Washington Irving" at Astoria several times a day on its run between Flushing and New York.
From: “300 Years of Long Island City History” by Vincent Seyfried

Easter is a joyous celebration in the Czech and Slovak culture. The tradition of the art of Kraslice, or embellished egg...
04/04/2021

Easter is a joyous celebration in the Czech and Slovak culture. The tradition of the art of Kraslice, or embellished egg, is a custom still practiced today. Eggs are given as a symbol of new beginnings, love and friendship. A few years ago @helenkarhan gave a workshop on making the eggs at the society. #HappyEaster #tradition #eggs #czech #slovak #kraslice #astorialic #astoria #lic

Easter is a joyous celebration in the Czech and Slovak culture. The tradition of the art of Kraslice, or embellished egg, is a custom still practiced today. Eggs are given as a symbol of new beginnings, love and friendship. A few years ago @helenkarhan gave a workshop on making the eggs at the society. #HappyEaster #tradition #eggs #czech #slovak #kraslice #astorialic #astoria #lic

This post is by Dr. Anne Vuagniaux, professor of art history at Bronx Community College. Greater Astoria Historical Soci...
04/02/2021
Steinway Walking Tour

This post is by Dr. Anne Vuagniaux, professor of art history at Bronx Community College. Greater Astoria Historical Society worked with Prof Vuagniaux on a research project of the Steinway Settlement published under the name 'Settlement in a Salt Meadow' in Art Inquiries Magazine, Nov 2019.

https://www.urbanarchive.org/stories/eQskUTEi5xg

This post is by Dr. Anne Vuagniaux, professor of art history at Bronx Community College. The northeast corner of Astoria has a distinct character that visitors can experience as they walk up Ditmars Boulevard to the area around Steinway Street. Originally a tidal swamp with scattered farmhouses, the...

Greater Astoria Historical Society shared podcast post from Heather Quinlan celebrates Opening Day with a podcast about ...
04/01/2021
86'd: A Podcast About the '86 Mets Film that Didn't Get Made - Episode One: You Gotta Believe

Greater Astoria Historical Society shared podcast post from Heather Quinlan celebrates Opening Day with a podcast about the 86 Mets. Episode One.
https://soundcloud.com/heather-quinlan/86d-a-podcast-about-the-86-mets-film-that-didnt-get-made-episode-one

Who are the '86 Mets and what happens when you try to make a film about them? Episode One is part Doc, Darryl, and Mex, and part filmmaking, bureaucracy, and shakedowns.

03/30/2021

Who knew that March 29 was World Piano Day? We thought every day is World Piano Day.

(Via Steinway & Sons)

https://fb.watch/4zfV4ko6Uu/

On March 30, 1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened to traffic. Thousands of people packed onto the bridge roadway to experi...
03/30/2021

On March 30, 1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened to traffic. Thousands of people packed onto the bridge roadway to experience the novelty of walking across the East River. #queensborobridge #59Streetbridge #queens #astoria #longislandcity #astorialic

On March 30, 1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened to traffic. Thousands of people packed onto the bridge roadway to experience the novelty of walking across the East River. #queensborobridge #59Streetbridge #queens #astoria #longislandcity #astorialic

Easter outfit shopping on the avenue, Steinway Avenue, o.k., STREET. With apologies to Irving Berlin. (Although it used ...
03/30/2021

Easter outfit shopping on the avenue, Steinway Avenue, o.k., STREET. With apologies to Irving Berlin. (Although it used to be avenue way back when.)

NYC tax photos c.1940 of Steinway Street between Broadway and Grand (30th) Avenue

The bank, the bling and the toys of Astoria’s main shopping district, Steinway Street, in 1940 NYC tax photos and 2021 G...
03/24/2021

The bank, the bling and the toys of Astoria’s main shopping district, Steinway Street, in 1940 NYC tax photos and 2021 Google Street Views.

The Bank of the Manhattan Company needs a tenant but the street clock in front of Wagner’s is still ticking (check out the word “Jewelers” above the middle window in the old/new photos).

Sokol’s Greeting Cards and Toys was at 30-16 before moving to larger quarters across the street which famously caught fire in the ‘60s. Yes, they held a fire sale in the charred toy store spookily lit by temporary bare bulb drop lights. Today the original Sokol’s is now “Sol”, a remnant of “Sokol’s?”

Martin’s, McClellan’s, Sunshine Party Shop and M. Neisner were some of the other stores selling toys at the ”World’s Longest Department Store.”

Oh, and check out those cars!

Do you like crime stories? Join retired NYPD Detective Ike Ilkiw discussing “Infamous NYC Crime Scenes: a Modern Perspec...
03/23/2021

Do you like crime stories? Join retired NYPD Detective Ike Ilkiw discussing “Infamous NYC Crime Scenes: a Modern Perspective” A look behind the headlines. Thursday March 25 at 7 pm. RSVP to [email protected] with the subject line CRIME. You will get a link on Thursday to join in the talk. #astoria #nyc #astorialic #truecrimes #mystery #crime

Do you like crime stories? Join retired NYPD Detective Ike Ilkiw discussing “Infamous NYC Crime Scenes: a Modern Perspective” A look behind the headlines. Thursday March 25 at 7 pm. RSVP to [email protected] with the subject line CRIME. You will get a link on Thursday to join in the talk. #astoria #nyc #astorialic #truecrimes #mystery #crime

The Legendary Trav S.D. mentions his upcoming gig at Greater Astoria Historical Society in the Queens Gazette - check ou...
03/20/2021
I’m in the Queens Gazette this Week

The Legendary Trav S.D. mentions his upcoming gig at Greater Astoria Historical Society in the Queens Gazette - check out his WordPress with a fun selection of articles and insights in the world of entertainment:
https://travsd.wordpress.com/2021/03/12/im-in-the-queens-gazette-this-week/

Hey Queens fans, boosters, and inhabitants! This weeks’ Queens Gazette features an interview with yours truly. Queens is the closest NYC borough to me these days geographically, so naturally …

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2348 - Astoria NY Rocco Moretto Post needs your help - they have raised $8700 of a $20,000...
03/16/2021
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2348 - Astoria NY, organized by Rigoberto Villalvir

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2348 - Astoria NY Rocco Moretto Post needs your help - they have raised $8700 of a $20,000 goal.

For nearly a Century the VFW Post 2348 has been helping Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans, and involved in the community by holding many events both big and small. They have opened their doors to the Community of Queens for private events, organized gatherings, fun tournaments and just the opportunity to relax and enjoy the company and friendship of others.

Due to Covid-19, they have had to close their doors more than once this year. Their plumbing is in dire need of repair.

They have hosted various Queen's nonprofits such as local Boy Scouts Troops, NYPD Explorers, Queens Craft Brigade, Astoria Historical Society, AA Groups, Astoria Dungeons and Dragons, Yoga for veterans, Team RWB, TMC NYC chapters, NYCID program, Mothers of Astoria, Free youth counseling and family counseling to members of Queens.

Losing this institution would be a loss to all of these programs and these organizations would lose a home to host.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/veterans-of-foreign-wars-post-2348-astoria-ny?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet

For nearly a Century the VFW Post 2348 has been helping Veterans o… Rigoberto Villalvir needs your support for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2348 - Astoria NY

“It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on”. Thomas Wilder...
03/14/2021

“It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on”. Thomas Wilder # COVIDMemorial #nyc #neverforgotten #astorialic

“It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on”. Thomas Wilder # COVIDMemorial #nyc #neverforgotten #astorialic

03/13/2021

Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada was the first city in the world to enact DST, on July 1, 1908. This was followed by Orillia, Ontario, introduced by William Sword Frost while mayor from 1911 to 1912.

The first states to adopt DST (German: Sommerzeit) nationally were those of the German Empire and its World War I ally Austria-Hungary commencing April 30, 1916, as a way to conserve coal during wartime.

Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year, and the United States adopted daylight saving in 1918. Most jurisdictions abandoned DST in the years after the war ended in 1918, with exceptions including Canada, the UK, France, Ireland, and the United States.

It became common during World War II, and was widely adopted in America and Europe from the 1970s as a result of the 1970s energy crisis. Since then, the world has seen many enactments, adjustments, and repeals.

-Wikipedia

Posters and United Cigar stores postcards from 1918

03/13/2021
LIC is a Galaxy | Long Island City Partnership

This unique and evolving installation on view this spring celebrates the idea that Long Island City is a galaxy ...

https://www.longislandcityqueens.com/do-business/community-development/lic-arts-connection/lic-galaxy/

This unique and evolving installation on view this spring celebrates the idea that Long Island City is a galaxy, both diverse and unified. Whether you live and work in LIC, or are just visiting our galaxy, we encourage you to bundle up and travel to all twenty “planets” placed in tree pits throu...

03/13/2021
Preserve Sunnyside Gardens!

This note is from our sister organization Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance. The opinions expressed are their opinions. This is shared for informational purposes only. The Greater Astoria Historical Society does not support any candidate for office.

"We hope to see leadership from Mayor Bill de Blasio on this issue, we have received impressive support from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, from New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, and from Queens Borough President candidate Elizabeth Crowley, who has even posted a YouTube video (watch it, below). They all raise our spirits and our expectations for the practical, green solution we are seeking."

Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMNGjGgS_54

A special message by Elizabeth Crowley to express her personal support to have the Sunnyside Gardens National Register Historic District designated as our Bo...

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44-02 23rd Street, Studio 219
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11101

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Preserving our past, promoting our future

Chartered in 1985, the Greater Astoria Historical Society is a non-profit organization supported by the Greater Astoria/Long Island City communities, dedicated to preserving our past and using it to promote our future. Our work to procure, preserve and present relates to the natural, civil, literary and ecclesiastical history of the United States and State of New York in general, and the Astoria/Long Island City, Queens, area in particular. From 1990-2018, the Society had an onsite museum of its permanent collection and rotating exhibits; since, programming for the public and to local organizations and schools has been held at various community venues, in addition to our many walking tours in all five boroughs of New York City. Due to the current global health crisis and for the foreseeable future, we are working to move programming to all-virtual.

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for your consideration
I hope someone can give me some guidance. I am researching my family history and recently have been told that my paternal grandparents met while working at a silk mill on a street called Van Alst in Astoria some time around 1908. The only information on this silk mill I have found online is that there was a silk mill named M C Migel & Co, on the corner of Van Alst & Woolsey Aves . Can anyone reading this help direct me to learn more about this silk mill? I have always wanted to know more about my grandparents' meeting and be able to write their life story. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!
This Brooklyn Eagle 1906 topographical view of Long Island shows why it is an ideal “Summer-land” resort destination. The most conspicuous topographical feature is a great moraine of glacial deposits one to two miles in width and 100 - 400 feet high that runs the length of the island. The influence of the great “terminal moraine” not only enhances the character of the area as a summer resort, but it is a dominant factor in determining its general development. The locations of railroads, public highways, permanent residential centers, farming communities and summer resorts are mainly guided by it. It’s glacial kettle lakes, hills, plains, bays, pine woods and great forests and seemingly interminable stretches of white sand beaches make the island especially adapted to summer resort purposes. It contains some of the most beautiful and picturesque villages and scenery that can be found anywhere in the country. Add to this its splendid supply of pure water, cooling breezes and excellent transportation and Long Island is well-nigh perfect for resort purposes. In 1906 there were three lines of the Long Island Railroad running east and west, beside a line connecting the central and the south shore or Montauk divisions between Bethpage Junction and Babylon; also a short line from the north shore line from Northport Junction to Northport Bay. In addition to these railroad lines, which spread themselves over the entire island, rendering accessible every village and country place, are several great, public highways running out from Brooklyn and extending to thc extreme easterly end of the island. These are the "old South road," a continuation of Fulton street, skirting the south shore and stringing together the beautiful villages from Woodhaven to Montauk Point; the "old country road,” running east from Jamaica bearing a few miles to the northward from tho bee-line longitudinal center, passing through Riverhead and joining the North Shore turnpike at Mattituck on the north side of the Great Peconic Bay and the North Shore or “Jericho " turnpike, winding in and out along the diversified north shore from Flushing to Orient Point, the extreme eastern end of the northern “fluke” of the island. (Click to magnify and click again to zoom)
Queens County Courthouse rendering of its reconstruction were published in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1906. The actual design of the courthouse seems to have changed before its completion in 1908. The building was erected in 1874 to a design by George Hathorne. The location was decided on as the Queens County Seat moved from Jamaica to Long Island City, due to access to nearby transportation. An article in Newsday, written by staff writer Geoffrey Mohan, writes of the relocation of the Queens County Courthouse from Garden City Park, Nassau County, to Long Island City. Mohan refers to this relocation as one of decades of controversy, and possible reasons contributing to Nassau County's secession from Queens. The courthouse was remodeled and enlarged by Peter M. Coco in 1904 after a fire destroyed a portion of it. In its remodeling the building was raised from two stories to four stories in order to accommodate the needs of the court. The courthouse is designed in what has been variously described as a Neo-English Renaissance, neoclassical, or Beaux Arts architectural style and is made of stone, ceramic tile, limestone, and metal. Two jails were formerly part of the complex, but were replaced by a parking garage in 1988. The parking structure was designed by Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. - Wikipedia
Happy Thanksgiving to all who make this website fun! Photo: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 23, 1902
New LIRR Powerhouse in L.I.C. is ready to power the Rockaway Beach Division in 1905. Its lofty engine room and great coal storage bins in the second story have been pronounced by visiting engineers from all over the world to be the best plant of its kind in existence. Power to 5 substations is carried by cables carried on hurricane and sleet-proof steel latticed towers set in substantial concrete foundations 150 feet apart. Road telephones every 2,000 feet connect to L.I.C. headquarters. The Hammels, Rockaway substation contains the largest single storage battery in the country and can provide power to the third rail for several hours in the event of turbine failure. ALL ABOARD!
Belgian sculptor and aeronaut Paul Norquet took off in his 35-foot diameter gas balloon from 138th Street and Walnut Avenue, Bronx at 5:30 PM Tuesday, April 3, 1906. He wanted to fly to Philadelphia but a change in wind direction carried him over Astoria, Queens and Nassau instead. Afraid he would drift out to sea he was last seen by two boys just 150’ over Garden City. “I have been trying to land,” he yelled to the boys, “but my anchor snagged in a tree.” A sudden updraft carried him to 400’. His inflated balloon was found 24 hours later on Jones Beach with no trace of its pilot. The next day his lifeless body was found by a bayman on Cott Island. Drag marks in the sand by the balloon’s ropes indicated that he had approached Jones Beach from the ocean. A revised map of his flight suggested that he had lost his mind after two hours over the ocean staring death in the face. So, when the wind shifted to the north he safely landed on Jones Beach opposite Seaford. The lights of a nearby life saver station were blocked by dunes, so the fear-crazed Nocquet tried to swim towards the lights of Amityville, some 5 miles away, in the chilly, early spring water of South Oyster Bay instead of remaining with his balloon car. The Suffolk County coroner said that there was no occasion for an autopsy as it was “a clear case of a man, robbed of his reason by fear, perishing from exhaustion and exposure in a effort to make a journey that no sane person would have dreamed of undertaking.” The 29-year-old Manhattanite’s will, found in his pocket along with $35, ended with these words: “I have taken out my first papers for citizenship in the United States. My only desire is to become an American and I consider myself an American.”
Astoria and Long Island City connections to Manhattan via the coming Belmont Tunnel (today’s #7 Train), the Pennsylvania Railroad Tunnels (LIRR and feeder to the Hell Gate Bridge and the U.S. mainland) and the Blackwell’s Island Bridge (Queensboro Bridge) are used to sell real estate in Massapequa to ‘Tom Home Seeker’ in 1906 Brooklyn Eagle ad.
A shout out to our good friend Rob McKay of QueensNY on promoting our walking tour of LIC for MAS today. We had 30 people attend and midway through the tour we opened a discussion - pro and con - on the development of Queens waterfront. Both sides stated their points, but more importantly, both sides walked away with a better understanding of each other - and that's what these M.A.S. tours are all about!
A class of students at LaGuardia Community College Urban Sociology class enjoy another tour of the LIC by the Greater Astoria Historical Society
The Greater Astoria Historical Society takes great pride in its award winning educational program. Each year a class of students from the community participate in a program uncover our rich history. This year we are pleased to be working with Muhtady Shammo, Israq Huda, and Moinak Das on our most ambitious project yet - a series of complete historic maps of Long Island City from prehistory to present! Do stay tuned!
We are giving at tour of Old Astoria Village this weekend for the Municipal Art Society. If you are interested registration is here: https://www.mas.org/events/astoria-village/