Population Density: 41,423 people per square mile (Brooklyn: 34,817 people per square mile; Manhattan: 67,355)
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Ravenswood, Steinway, Astoria Heights
Public Transit: N/Q (30th Ave, Astoria Blvd, Astoria-Ditmars Blvd)
What’s it like?: Astoria is a quiet, relaxed neighborhood nestled between the East River and LaGuardia Airport. The main commercial drags run East-West and offer mostly mom-and-pop businesses and local chains, though there is at least one sleek storefront with low-wattage vintage light bulbs every few blocks.
Like in Brooklyn, hipsters and families can both feel at home here but Astoria lacks the obvious pockets of industry that give parts of Brooklyn its gritty feel. Astoria Park, in the shadows of both the RFK and Hell Gate bridges, is small by Central Park standards, but boasts a track, tennis courts, and the oldest and largest pool in the city.
For an unusual picnic, wander out onto the “feet” of the Hell Gate bridge: you’ll be rewarded with an unconventional view of Randalls Island and Manhattan… and a queasiness in your stomach, if heights are not your thing. Greek restaurants abound (don’t miss the grape leaves and baby shark at Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna) but you’ll find as many cuisines as you have taste buds.
Touches of Old New York The Elevated, an occasional lamppost, pull-down fire alarm call boxes remind you that life meanders, that not everything is an emergency, and that while you may live in the city that never sleeps, Astoria always gets its eight hours.
Flat or Tall?: Most of Astoria is three stories or lower; townhouses and row houses are the norm, though there are a few high-rise condo developments and more are in the works.
History: Like Manhattan’s Astor Place, Astoria is named for John Jacob Astor, the very first multi-millionaire in the United States. Steinway Street (which runs North-South on the East side of Astoria) is named for the piano company and is now home to Astoria’s Lebanese restaurants. The melting pot of cultures is largely due to a housing boom in the early 20th century.
Activities: Lots of mom-and-pop eateries await your inquisitive palate, and the park is always a good place to lounge around and contemplate your existence. Visit the Candy Bar near the North end of the park to satisfy a sugar craving. Soccer clubs abound there’s almost one on every block. Incorporate the Museum of the Moving Image into your routine; they always have screenings, live events, exhibitions, and workshops.