A neighborhood in northwest Queens, Astoria is bordered by Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside. Originally, Astoria was known as Sunswick, a term deriving from an Algonquin word meaning "woman chief." In 1839, the area was incorporated and renamed for John Jacob Astor, the prominent fur trader and landowner. Today, many see the area as an up-and-coming part of New York City. The N and W subway lines service the neighborhood, and it takes about 20 minutes to get to midtown Manhattan.
Originally populated by Dutch and German immigrants, today the area is a melting pot of different cultures. It is known as the Greek part of New York City and has one of the largest Greek populations outside of Greece. Italians also make up a large portion of the neighborhood, as do Arabs and Hispanics. Many young people of all nationalities live in Astoria because of its affordable housing.
The beautiful Hell Gate Bridge connects Astoria with Randall's Island and Ward's Island. The steel-arch bridge spans the East River and is 1,017 feet long. Amtrak trains use the bridge daily.
Astoria runs approximately from Queens Plaza, the gritty transportation hub that's beginning to undergo a renewal with office and condo development, northeast to the Ditmars-Steinway neighborhood, a traditionally Greek and multi-ethnic area that's attracting a new influx of Manhattan real estate refugees. The 56-acre Astoria Park on the East River from south of the Triborough Bridge to north of the Hell Gate Bridge is a great neighborhood resource, with panoramic views of the river and Manhattan and the biggest swimming pool in the New York City.
The neighborhood has a strong economy, with several shopping areas, an industrial enclave, an active movie studio, and several power plants.
The main retail areas are Steinway Street, which is the longest continuous strip of retail stores in Queens, and Ditmars Boulevard, which extends from beneath the elevated N and W trains along 31st Street to both the east and west. Steinway Street features many Middle Eastern markets, shops, and cafes, while Ditmars Boulevard has many Greek and Cypriot shops.
At the northern end of Steinway Street, Astoria's industrial enclave is home to more than 50 businesses, including warehouses, manufacturers, and distributors.
NYC Musical Saw Festival: Featuring live music that focuses on a unique instrument, the saw, the festival brings together musicians and music lovers from all over the world each July. Musicians educate the public on how the tool-cum-musical instrument works.
Astoria is home to Drake Business School, which has a student body of approximately 400. It offers one- and two-year undergraduate degrees in several areas, including accounting and information processing. In addition, the Learning Institute for Beauty Sciences is located in Astoria.
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