Astoria is a middle-class, commercial neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside (bordering at Northern Boulevard), and Woodside (bordering at 50th Street). As of 2019, Astoria has an estimated population of 95,446.
There is some debate as to what constitutes the geographic boundaries of Astoria. The neighborhood was part of Long Island City prior to the latter’s incorporation into the City of New York in 1898.
The area south of Astoria was called Ravenswood, and traditionally, Broadway was considered the border between the two. Today, however, many residents and businesses south of Broadway identify themselves as Astorians for convenience or status, since Long Island City has historically been considered an industrial area, and Ravenswood is now mostly a low-income neighborhood. Some of the thoroughfares have lent their names to unofficial terms for the areas they serve. For instance, the eastern end of Astoria, with Steinway Street as its main thoroughfare, is sometimes referred to simply as “Steinway”, and the northern end around Ditmars Boulevard is sometimes referred to as “Ditmars”, with their convergence point bearing the neighborhood name “Ditmars-Steinway”. Banners displayed on lamp posts along 30th Avenue refer to it as “the Heart of Astoria”.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Astoria was 78,793, a decrease of 10,329 (11.6%) from the 89,122 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 902.94 acres (365.41 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 87.3 inhabitants per acre (55,900/sq mi; 21,600/km).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 49.2% (38,749) Non-Hispanic White, 4.5% (3,553) African American, 0.2% (137) Native American, 16.2% (12,759) Asian, 0.0% (30) Pacific Islander, 1.2% (936) from other races, and 2.2% (1,714) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.5% (20,915) of the population.
The entirety of Community Board 1, which comprises Astoria and a small part of Long Island City, had 199,969 inhabitants as of NYC Health’s 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 83.4 years. This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 16% are between the ages of 0–17, 41% between 25–44, and 22% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 12% respectively.
As of 2017, the median household income in Community Board 1 was $66,382. In 2018, an estimated 18% of Astoria residents lived in poverty, compared to 19% in all of Queens and 20% in all of New York City. One in twelve residents (8%) were unemployed, compared to 8% in Queens and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 47% in Astoria, slightly lower than the boroughwide and citywide rates of 53% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, Astoria is considered to be gentrifying.
Astoria was first settled by the Dutch, English, 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.
Italians were the next significant immigrants in Astoria, and numerous Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries, and pizza shops are found throughout Astoria, particularly in the Ditmars Boulevard area.
Jews were also a significant ethnic and religious group. The Astoria Center of Israel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1925 after outgrowing the former Congregation Mishkan Israel, which was built in 1904.
The 1960s saw a large increase of Greek population from mainland Greece, and after 1974, there was an influx of Greeks from Cyprus. This cultural imprint can be seen in the numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries, tavernas, and cafes, as well as several Greek Orthodox churches. While the population of Greeks in Astoria was 22,579 in 1980, it dropped to 18,127 by 1990 due to decreased immigration and lower birth rates. Greek organizations in the area include the Hellenic American Action Committee (HANAC) and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. Recent economic issues in Greece have seen a resurgence of Greek immigration.
About 20,000 Maltese also live in Astoria, and although this population has steadily been emigrating from the area, there are still many Maltese, supported by the Maltese Center of New York.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood’s Muslim population grew from earlier immigrants from Lebanon to also include people from Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. In the 1990s, Steinway Street between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many Arabic shops, restaurants, and cafes, which is unofficially called “Little Egypt”, due to the number of Arabs residing there and the mostly Egyptian shops and lounges there.
Croatians from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have been numerous since the 1960s and their numbers continue to grow. New populations of South American and Balkan peoples have seen significant growth since the early 1990s, including a large population of Brazilians, who reside in the 36th Avenue area. Albanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Bosnians have also shown a rise in numbers. Many Spanish Americans live in Astoria, with most of them being of Galician heritage from Northwestern Spain; this community is supported by the Casa Galicia (Galicia House) and the Circulo Español (Spanish Circle).
At one time, many Bangladeshi Americans settled in Astoria, but by 2001, many of them had moved to Metro Detroit. A survey of an Astoria-area Bengali language newspaper estimated that, in an 18-month period until March 2001, 8,000 Bangladeshi people moved to the Detroit area. However, as of 2010, the Bangladeshi American community in Astoria has been increasing.
Population losses in Queens were particularly high in immigrant neighborhoods such as Astoria, which suffered the greatest population loss in the city, losing more than 10,000 residents between the years 2000 and 2010.