A tailor hard at work. The middle class is hanging on in Astoria, perhaps more firmly than in any other neighborhood of New York.
Astoria, in Queens, feels like a change of pace for New York City. Looming skyscrapers and lumbering overhead trains are scarce here–you might even stumble upon a few trees, a free-standing home or two.
In many ways, Astoria is New York City’s exhale. The people move more slowly, and the neighborhoods are a good degree calmer. Queens is truly the last bastion of the middle class in New York City, and Astoria is at the heart of it.
If you’ve ever visited New York City, you’ll be familiar with the Astors. Socialites and tycoons of industry, the Astor family owns half of New York City, and this is where the sleepy neighborhood gets its name. Astoria was initially populated by waves of settlers from Germany, and went through many different demographic shifts, including being the primary headquarters of the Steinway Piano Company and a major destination for Greeks fleeing conflict at home. Today, Astoria is still one of the most vibrant and multicultural neighborhoods in NYC.
Not easily impressed by fancy architecture and neck-straining skyscrapers, Astorians are keen to work, relax, and eat with friends and loved ones. The landscape proves that-- there are plenty of low-to-the-ground warehouses and free-standing homes, but very few nightclubs and even fewer scrambling professionals in business suits.
The New York Times takes a look at Astoria.
The allure of the neighborhood isn't so much visual as it is gastronomic: Astoria is home to some of the most diverse (and the best!) food in all of New York. Greek tabernas sidle up next to Szechuan BBQ restaurants and Bosnian ćevabdžinicas touting sausages and steaks. Your stomach can travel across continents in the time it takes you to cross the street.
So, the next time you find yourself on the Q train to Astoria, wear dark colors and loose-waisted pants-- you're in for a feast!