Real Estate History: Astoria

Though many may not be aware of it, Astoria—one of the fastest-growing and best residential sections of New York City—has a fascinating origin story deeply steeped in real estate history.

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Initially called Hallet’s Cove, what is now known as Astoria was founded by a fur merchant named Stephen A. Halsey in 1839. It was named after the area’s first prime landowner William Hallet, who settled there in 1659 with his wife. Locals began constructing large homes throughout the area in the early 1800s.

In an effort to persuade John Jacob Astor—then the richest man in America—to invest $2,000 in local real estate developments, Halsey petitioned the state legislature to rename the area Astoria in his honor. As the legend goes, Astor never set foot in the neighborhood that bears his name, though he did send $500 to Halsey.

Not long afterwards, a German settler named Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg—one of many immigrants who moved to Astoria in the 19th century—founded the piano company Steinway & Sons in 1853. Though many of his German-immigrant brethren were furniture and cabinetmakers, Steinweg’s company would go on to become one of the most revered piano manufacturers in the world. The Steinway mansion, where the family lived beginning in 1870, was landmarked by New York City in 1966 and the top-of-the-line pianos are still made in Astoria.

The town has also been the birthplace of some of the best in American filmmaking since the early days of the art form, primarily at Kaufman Astoria Studios. Founded in 1920, Kaufman Astoria planted the seeds of what would become Paramount Pictures, and was the location for many celebrated early films, including the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers.” The studio, still in operation today, currently contains the only studio backlot in New York City as well as the recently renovated Museum of the Moving Image.

Always known for its diversity, safety and middle-class residents, Astoria has become a development hub, with several new buildings sure to impress once they open their doors in the coming years. Buyers and renters priced out of portions of Brooklyn have flooded the Queens enclave, making the local market one of the most active around.

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Town Residential’s official website currently features a handful of wonderful exclusives, representing the best of the Astoria market. Here are some listings you should see for yourself:

1 . 30-11 21st Street #PE

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This corner unit with southern and western exposures offers beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. The apartment measures approximately 1,525 square feet, not including a balcony and a terrace with a gas grill. The generously sized living/dining area makes this space very unique, and additional apartment features include: a washer/dryer, java-stained birch wood floors, Marvin windows, recessed lighting, two full-sized bathrooms with a tub and shower stall, walk-in closets and a gourmet kitchen.

Asking Price: $1.475 million

2. 11-41 30th Road

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A detached, two-family brick house located on a beautiful and quiet tree-lined street, this building represents an excellent opportunity to procure an income-generating property in a rapidly developing neighborhood. The house is approximately seven blocks from the N/R trains, just a few blocks from Socrates Sculpture Park to the south and Astoria Park to the north, and there’s a planned water taxi pickup site one block away. A finished basement, which includes a kitchen and a washer/dryer unit, adds an additional 745 square feet to the house.

Asking Price: $1.298 million

3. 25-40 38th Street #PH
Constructed in 2014 in prime Astoria, this boutique condominium’s penthouse residence has two private terraces collectively measuring 1,500 square feet. The night views of Manhattan from the first terrace are spectacular, while the second, on the eastern end of the home, offers exceptional Astoria views. The unit features white oak flooring throughout, a chef’s kitchen with a luxurious island that’s topped with Caesarstone counters, and an alcove in front of the island which may be used as dining area or even a home office. The living room is spacious and great for entertaining, and there’s a convenient washer-dryer unit as well. A private garage and a spacious storage unit are offered along with this penthouse. The apartment is located a block from the lively 30th Avenue cafes, bars and restaurants.

Asking Price: $889,000

For more listings, visit Town Residential’s official website