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.

Mission: The mission of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, founded in 1985, is to discover, procure and preserve the history of Long Island City, which was incorporated into the City of Greater New York in 1898. In a borough well-known for its diverse population (some 138 languages are spoken in Queens), the Long Island City / Astoria area is home to more than 350,000 people. A primary goal of the GAHS is to foster a positive sense of community pride and identity through an understanding of history for all residents, both newly arrived immigrants and long-time residents.

Operating as usual

01/29/2021

Almost 90 attendees for our ForgottenNY Virtual Tour of Astoria, Queens which just ended! THANKS all who attended & donated during! Please spread the word & stay tuned for more of our upcoming events this new year!

The stunning beauty of a Steinway Piano is limited only by the boundless creativity of our imagination.
01/22/2021

The stunning beauty of a Steinway Piano is limited only by the boundless creativity of our imagination.

This Steinway Model D is wrapped in a stunning floral vinyl film, designed by Tricia Paoluccio for her show in New York City.

"Back in March we left NYC to quarantine in my parents’ little log cabin. I was surrounded by acres of incredible wildflowers. I spent many months pressing thousands of weeds and flowers and made about a dozen works of art. Never before had I the space or time to do so this intensely...enabling me to be able to blow up the flowers in scale tenfold and beyond." - Tricia Paoluccio
PC: @universersphotos
Vinyl wrap: @nvsvisuals

Whatever your politics may be, you have to appreciate this image by @vintagequeensnyc of Bernie visiting the Steinway Ma...
01/22/2021

Whatever your politics may be, you have to appreciate this image by @vintagequeensnyc of Bernie visiting the Steinway Mansion! Top hat and all!

#timetraveler #astoria #queenshistory #queensnyc #nychistory #astorianyc

“In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late......this is a time for vigoro...
01/18/2021

“In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late......this is a time for vigorous and positive action”. #martinlutherking #peace #socialactivism #civilrights #astorialic

Greater Astoria Historical Society Annual Holiday Party... this year, online!
01/10/2021

Greater Astoria Historical Society Annual Holiday Party... this year, online!

The Berger Jorisson Tidemill was at Northern Blvd and 41st Ave. and built at some point in the 1640s. The Tidemill was t...
01/03/2021

The Berger Jorisson Tidemill was at Northern Blvd and 41st Ave. and built at some point in the 1640s. The Tidemill was torn down about 1860 and the millstones were displayed in the yard of the Payntar Farmhouse until it was torn down about 1910, at which time the stones were moved to the front sidewalk of the Clocktower Building.

A few years ago during the restoration of Queens Plaza, they have moved a few feet away, had holes drilled into them, and were bolted to a base making them seats or tables. The new location is a few feet from a bus lane on an active street. They have been documented as being tagged with graffiti. Pieces are falling off.

Some records claim they are among the earliest surviving artifacts in Queens from the colonial era. Flour barrels are on the NYC Coat of Arms signifying the importance of milling in launching the city's success.

Photo by  Mitch Waxman
01/01/2021

Photo by Mitch Waxman

Thank you for listing us along with a number of extraordinary organizations deserving support as 31st Ave Open Street As...
12/31/2020
Organizations to Contribute to and Support - BOAST: Best of Astoria

Thank you for listing us along with a number of extraordinary organizations deserving support as 31st Ave Open Street Astoria, Astoria Food Pantry, Astoria Fridge, Astoria Mutual Aid Network, Citymeals on Wheels, Oxfam America, Queens Together, Rocky Thepug (#saveourcompost), & The Actors Fund

- all great company - who together are building our city and making our Astoria (Astoria, New York) community a special place!

Here's to 2021! 😄

https://boast.nyc/organizations-contribute-support/

Before the end of the year, we wanted to share what our readers said were their favorite organizations to contribute to and support. Here they are, in alphabetical order: 31st Ave Open Street The Open Street is implementing a Fall/Winter schedule and the new hours will be from 8am to 6pm on weekends...

Greater Astoria Historical Society
12/31/2020

Greater Astoria Historical Society

Thank you for all the continued support on here and across all our social media platforms during this last year while we adapted. We look forward to even more ways to connect next year!

Just a reminder that our fundraiser goes through the end of the year, which is fast approaching! We got over 8,200 likes this year!! Can you imagine if each of those was a dollar?? 😲 Also, don't forget to renew your membership - or you can join for as little as $25!

You can donate on Facebook, or our website at https://www.astorialic.org/support/! Swipe for more details

Thank you for all the continued support on here and across all our social media platforms during this last year while we...
12/31/2020

Thank you for all the continued support on here and across all our social media platforms during this last year while we adapted. We look forward to even more ways to connect next year!

Just a reminder that our fundraiser goes through the end of the year, which is fast approaching! We got over 8,200 likes this year!! Can you imagine if each of those was a dollar?? 😲 Also, don't forget to renew your membership - or you can join for as little as $25!

You can donate on Facebook, or our website at https://www.astorialic.org/support/! Swipe for more details

Thank you for all the continued support on here and across all our social media platforms during this last year while we...
12/30/2020

Thank you for all the continued support on here and across all our social media platforms during this last year while we adapted. We look forward to even more ways to connect next year!

Just a reminder that our fundraiser goes through the end of the year, which is fast approaching! We got over 8,200 likes this year!! Can you imagine if each of those was a dollar?? 😲 Also, don't forget to renew your membership - or you can join for as little as $25!

You can donate on Facebook, or our website at https://www.astorialic.org/support/! Swipe for more details

New York City elevated railroads proposed in Scientific American article of 1846.We have heretofore alluded to the const...
12/30/2020

New York City elevated railroads proposed in Scientific American article of 1846.

We have heretofore alluded to the construction of elevated railroads over the centers of some of the principal streets of New York City; since which we have more attentively examined the subject, and are fully convinced of the practicability not only of constructing such roads, but of rendering them unobjectionable to the citizens resident on those streets, and those who have occasion to ride, promenade, or pursue the ordinary branches of business they’re in.

The road must consist of a single track – which would not be objectionable, as a train each way, every half hour, would furnish ample accommodation – elevated about 18 feet up from the ground, and supported by a series of stone columns, 8 feet in diameter, and 60 feet apart.

A framework of substantial timber is elevated over each column, and about 20 feet high; and from the heads of these frames, several iron wire braces extend in each direction, to several points or sections, thus supporting the road between the columns, as shown in the engraving.

This railroad may just be made sufficiently permanent and safe, without discommoding the travel or business of the street, or obscuring the light of the houses or shops: for being understood that this road has no flooring, but consists of an open framework of timber, on which rails are laid. The cars, and especially the engines, used on this road will be of light construction, the latter being operated by either a rotary, or other silent engine, that it may work without noise, and also without smoke.

Convenient facilities for ascending to, or descending from the railroad, will be erected at every principal crossing.

Platforms will be erected at such places, on either side of the road, and surrounded by a railing: and a narrow walk will extend from each platform, to the side of the street, where it may be connected with a flight of stairs, descending to the sidewalk; or the columns may be built hollow and contain a flight of spiral stairs, and one or more doors at the bottom thereof.

We are confident that any objection brought up against this plan of directing and constructing railroads over our principal streets, will be imaginary rather than real; and that by superseding, in a great measure, the noisy and dangerous omnibuses on those streets, these roads will render a residence on such streets, more pleasant and unobjectionable, and that consequently the value of property there in will be enhanced.

Engraving: proposed 1846 one-track elevated railroad, Scientific American, January 1, 1846

Photo: An overhead view of transit workers standing atop the Sixth Avenue elevated train tracks, working to dismantle the railway at Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street, Manhattan, New York City, circa 1945. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

MerryChristmas to all and peace to men of good will.  #christmas #peace #holiday #astorialic #wishes
12/25/2020

MerryChristmas to all and peace to men of good will. #christmas #peace #holiday #astorialic #wishes

Did you know today is #NationalPfeffernusseDay ? These Holiday cookies would have been very popular in the German Settle...
12/24/2020

Did you know today is #NationalPfeffernusseDay ? These Holiday cookies would have been very popular in the German Settlement of Astoria back in the 1800s. #holidaycookies #christmas #pfeffernusse #astorialic #german

Lights, Camera, Construction!New and expanded soundstages across the city will help reshape neighborhoods and turn New Y...
12/04/2020

Lights, Camera, Construction!
New and expanded soundstages across the city will help reshape neighborhoods and turn New York into a Hollywood of the east.

The long lists of shows displayed on streaming sites, which seem to grow exponentially by the day, serve to tell you what’s on. But in New York City, they also might reveal a bit about the future of your block.

Many of the studios that produced the television series, which have turned New York into a small-screen production hub, are now planning to open new facilities or expand what’s already here, some in parts of the city that have been unfamiliar with such large-scale investment.

Fueled by a pandemic-era demand for stay-at-home entertainment, and generous tax breaks, the studios are targeting a range of locations in Queens and Brooklyn, including historic red brick enclaves, working-class sections of the waterfront, and industrial precincts known not for celebrities, but concrete plants.

These areas may not look the same for long. Previous developments of soundstages, as these facilities are known because they are designed to be soundproof, have had transformative effects. The creation of Silvercup Studios in a former bread factory in Long Island City in the 1980s, for example, helped turn that part of Queens into a trendy destination. More:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/04/realestate/soundstage-nyc-tv-film.html?searchResultPosition=1

Due to your #givingtuesday donations we raised almost $600! Our fundraiser goes until the end of the year, so there's st...
12/02/2020

Due to your #givingtuesday donations we raised almost $600! Our fundraiser goes until the end of the year, so there's still time to make a tax deductible donation or join for as low as $20! See comments for all the ways to donate!

#queenslove #queenshistory #queenssupportingqueens #nyc #nychistory #astorianyc #astoriany #astoria #queens #weheartastoria

Queens realty opportunities opened by new transit routes in 1933. Operation of the new municipal subway to Roosevelt Ave...
12/01/2020

Queens realty opportunities opened by new transit routes in 1933.

Operation of the new municipal subway to Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway is the first step toward rapid transit connection between the north and south sides of Queensborough. When completed to Jamaica it will open up a territory now largely undeveloped, and which, it is estimated, will provide homes for 1 million people.

Back in the last century, the late Theodore Steinway, who had moved his piano factory to Queens, conceived the idea of an under-river connection with Manhattan. He secured a franchise and began the construction of the “Steinway“
tunnel, later to be known as “Belmont“ tunnel, from Lexington Avenue and 42nd St. to Long Island City.

There was an explosion when the boring reached Blackwell‘s island and work ceased for many years until the franchise was purchased by August Belmont, then head of the Interboro Company. The tunnel was completed in October 1907, and then arose a question as to the validity of the franchise.

For seven years the case was fought through the courts and Mr. Belmont finally won. In the meantime the situation was changed and it was decided to make this a feeder for the subway system in Manhattan. The first train ran to Fifth Street, Long Island City, on June 22, 1915.

When the Queens Boulevard line is completed to 178th St., Jamaica, it will not only connect the north and south sides of the borough, an important point in the development of Queens, but it will also give a large part of the borough through service to downtown Manhattan. The north side of queens will then have the benefit of the services of three lines – the Independent, Interboro and Brooklyn-Manhattan, as the lines cross at Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway.

From the present temporary terminus at Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway, the line will be extended as rapidly as possible to 178th St. in Hillside Avenue, Jamaica. Actual construction including tunnel work, station finish and tracking is practically complete, and all that remains to be done is the installation of the necessary operating equipment, such as power, lighting, ventilation and drainage.

New York Times excerpt, August 20, 1933

Sepia photos: Aerial view of the route of the Queens Boulevard line and the Triangle Building subway entrance at Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue: NY Times, August 20, 1933

Color photo: The same location from 2020 Google Maps Street View

The Victor Moore Arcade bus terminal adjacent to the subway entrance from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man,” 1956, filmed on location in Jackson Heights and on the Independent line.

Mott Haven, the southernmost Bronx neighborhood, is a fascinating amalgamation of factories including NYC’s foremost iro...
11/28/2020

Mott Haven, the southernmost Bronx neighborhood, is a fascinating amalgamation of factories including NYC’s foremost ironworks; monuments; and interesting residential architecture. NYC’s colonial past stands side by side here with Robert Moses’ expressways. Take a one-hour tour of this fascinating neighborhood with narration by FNY’s Kevin Walsh and Bob Singleton of Greater Astoria Historical Society.

WHEN: Thursday, December 3, 7 PM

WHERE: Your device

HOW MUCH: Free of charge

HOW LONG: approximately 1 hour

TERRAIN: flat, depending on how well you have swept the floor

RSVP: by 5:30 pm the day of the event (Thursday 12/03) with the subject line “MOTTHAVEN” to [email protected]. You will then be sent a Zoom link for admittance.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my followers on this history page! Better times are ahead for sure! Stay safe, wear your mask:...
11/25/2020

Happy Thanksgiving to all my followers on this history page! Better times are ahead for sure! Stay safe, wear your mask: don’t be a jive turkey!

- Fred Hadley

Even after being a tour guide at the Steinway & Sons factory for a few decades, I never fail to marvel that people will ...
11/20/2020

Even after being a tour guide at the Steinway & Sons factory for a few decades, I never fail to marvel that people will often wait years to tour at the factory, often traveling across half the planet to see its magic.

How many people from the community are aware that name 'Astoria' is associated with an exquisite standard of beauty created every day - for the past 150 years - at the end of Steinway Street.

- Bob Singleton-NewYork Executive Director, Greater Astoria Historical Society

https://www.steinway.com/pianos/steinway/todays-steinway/?utm_source=vr&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=201120

The Blackwell Plantation was on Vernon Blvd., a few blocks north and south of 37th Avenue. It was torn down about 1900, ...
11/19/2020

The Blackwell Plantation was on Vernon Blvd., a few blocks north and south of 37th Avenue. It was torn down about 1900, but the Greater Astoria Historical Society has the door.

This house was built about 100 years and a few generations later by the Blackwell Family on what was then called Blackwells Island. It was closed for decades awaiting restoration, and finally opened a few days ago. This land was owned by the Blackwells until about 1840 when the city bought it for institutions.

FROM HISTORIC DISTRICTS COUNCIL - REMOVAL OF FOUNTAIN IN FRONT OF LIC COURTHOUSE.25-10 Court Square – New York State Sup...
11/12/2020

FROM HISTORIC DISTRICTS COUNCIL -
REMOVAL OF FOUNTAIN IN FRONT OF LIC COURTHOUSE.

25-10 Court Square – New York State Supreme Court House – Individual Landmark

ADVISORY REPORT, Docket #2102469

A neo-English Renaissance style courthouse designed by Peter M. Coco and built in 1904-05. Application is to re-design the plaza.

Architect: NYC Parks

The historic site plan of Court Square was compromised by the closure of Thomson Avenue in the 1990s, and the subsequent realignment of a formal square was created. At that time, HDC understands that a historic fountain was not present, but that a fountain resembling a historic condition was incorporated into the site, which is what currently exists today.

The present fountain is adorned in a classical vocabulary reflective of the courthouse, and it also has an axial relationship to the landmark. In examining historic photographs, this site had a similar fountain throughout most of its history, including a presence in front of the 1874 building. To this end, HDC asks that this historicized fountain remain on the site and in alignment with the formal axis with the landmark. Dry fountains evoke neglect and blight, so we ask that it be retained in a working order. The proposed spray fountain will require similar maintenance, so we don’t view the reincarnation of the existing fountain as a heavy lift. Removing this fountain is an aesthetic severance between the park and landmark, as they share a stylistic dialog—please keep it here.

In the existing park plan, there is a desire path that was paved over because of how heavily the east side of the park is traversed. Thomson Avenue originally ran diagonally through this section of the park, essentially on the same path. This is why it still makes sense for pedestrians to cut the corner in this location and reach Jackson Avenue more efficiently. HDC is unconvinced that the proposed park plan will do anything to fix this problem of the lost street, and we fear that its failure will result in more maintenance issues. Finally, HDC is concerned about the proposed lawn area’s maintenance, and we wish to ensure it will be and will remain real grass, not plastic.

Address

44-02 23rd Street, Studio 219
Long Island City, NY
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/