Astoria, Queens A Mixture of Diversity and Culture

 Astoria is a neighborhood in the northwestern corner of Queens that is as  diverse as the immigrants that settled there from places as far away as Greece,  Italy, Ireland, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.  

 A Famous Ancestry

 Originally named Hallet’s Cove after its first landowner William Hallet settled there in 1659 with his  wife Elizabeth Fones, New Yorkers can probably figure out that Astoria was  renamed after John Jacob Astor, then the richest man in America with a net  worth of over $40 million. Astor was asked by founding father and fellow fur  trader Stephen Halsey to invest $2,000 in the neighborhood in return for naming  the area after him. He only invested $500, but the name stayed nonetheless, as  a bitter battle over naming the village was finally won by Astor's supporters  and friends.  

 Beginning in the early 19th century, affluent New Yorkers constructed large  residences around 12th and 14th streets, an area that became known as Astoria  Village (now Old Astoria). This area was a noted recreational destination and  resort for Manhattan's wealthy elite. From Astor's summer home in Hell Gate,  Manhattan—on what is now East 87th Street near York Avenue—he could see across the East River to the new Long Island village named in his  honor. Astor, however, never actually set foot in Astoria.  

 Later History

 Astoria was first settled by the Dutch and Germans in the 17th century. Many  Irish settled in the area during the waves of Irish immigration into New York  City during the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the second half of the  19th century, economic and commercial growth also brought increased immigration  from German settlers, mostly furniture and cabinet makers.  

 One such settler was Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, patriarch of the Steinway  family who founded the worldwide piano company Steinway & Sons in 1853. Afterwards, the Steinways built a sawmill and a foundry, as well  as a streetcar line. The family eventually established Steinway Village for  their workers, a company town that provided school instruction in German as  well as English.  

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