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A Storefront View: Northwestern nabe has something for everyone

With numerous movie theaters, museums, cafes, restaurants, retail stores and other attractions, Astoria has something for everyone. Some of the major attractions include the American Museum of the Moving Image, Kaufman-Astoria Studios and the renowned Steinway & Sons piano factory.

Since 1979, the mission of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition has been to promote neighborhood preservation through programs that stimulate private reinvestment and contribute to economic development, quality of life and housing preservation. Beginning with the commercial revitalization of Steinway Street, Central Astoria’s economic development efforts expanded over the years to include 30th Avenue, Broadway, 36th Avenue and interconnecting streets that now form a shopping district that satisfies consumer and service needs for much of northwestern Queens.

Central Astoria helped to establish the Steinway Street Business Improvement District in 1991 and provides administrative and technical assistance to the Steinway BID as well as the Broadway Merchants and Professionals Association, 30th Avenue Business Association and the Dutch Kills Civic Association. The success achieved from implementing a commercial revitalization program for Steinway Street resulted in an expansion of activities that included neighborhood-wide commercial revitalization and the implementation of a housing counseling service.

While the Steinway & Sons piano factory has been operating in Astoria for more than 130 years, many new businesses, such as Washington Mutual Bank, Duane Reade, Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret, have come to the area more recently. Construction is underway on a Commerce Bank on Steinway Street and Broadway, a Flushing Savings Bank on 30th Avenue and 32nd Street, as well as on retail and residential buildings at various locations in and around Astoria.

Steinway Street, with its 300-plus retail stores, is known as “the world’s longest department store.” Along with well-known chain stores, Steinway Street also offers a variety of smaller, family-owned businesses, some doing business in Astoria for 50 years and more. Broadway is known as Astoria’s “Restaurant Row” due to the large number of restaurants and cafes that have opened in recent years.

In addition to numerous small- and medium-sized service businesses and restaurants, 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue also afford an abundance of outdoor cafes and ethnic food establishments offering products from the world over.

Astoria hosts a number of annual neighborhood events attended by residents as well as people from surrounding neighborhoods. These include street fairs and festivals on Steinway Street, 30th Avenue, Broadway and 36th Avenue; the holiday street-lighting ceremony and Santa’s arrival; and Steinway sale days.

In 1980, Central Astoria presented the first of the Independence Day celebrations, which feature an outdoor concert in Astoria Park and a sensational fireworks display over the East River. Now in its 23rd year, the Independence Day celebration is attended by thousands from Astoria and other Queens neighborhoods.

Central Astoria also produces the Summer Fun Children’s Series, a series of free performances held in Athens Square Park and Dutch Kills Playground, and the Waterfront Concert Series, a number of free musical performances in Astoria Park.

One of Astoria’s greatest assets is the variety of attractions located within a short distance of each other. The area’s veritable plenitude of restaurants and cafes reflects the multi-ethnic character of the neighborhood by offering every imaginable cuisine.

Astoria also offers a huge selection of retail stores (more than 300 on Steinway Street alone), museums and other attractions. The famous Kaufman Astoria Studios, where many movies and popular television programs are filmed, is on 36th Avenue in Astoria. Just a block away is the American Museum of the Moving Image, which features an array of interesting exhibits, film screenings and artifacts.

Socrates Sculpture Park, the Institute for Contemporary Art and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum also are nearby. Additionally, the Museum of Modern Art is less than a mile from the Central Astoria area. Astoria can easily be reached by car or public transportation from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester, Long Island and surrounding Queens neighborhoods.

For more information, contact the Central Astoria LDC via mail at 28-27 Steinway St., Astoria, NY 11103; phone at 718-278-7820; fax at 718-728-7413; or e-mail at centralastoria@aol.com. Visit Central Astoria LDC at www.centralastorialdc79.org. This series is provided by the Queens Economic Development Corp.

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