Oh, You Live in Astoria?
By Ilija Sekulovski
Astoria, home of the rising property prices, vast range of cultural diversity, influx of dining propagators, and unfaltering loyalty of its community.
But why are people flocking across Hell gate and sinking their teeth into our little nugget?
Well, in short, they’re not!
That is to say, they’re not just starting to flock now. People have always gravitated toward Astoria. This new trend on the heel of the Hipster, in which Astoria is seen as an up and coming suburb may be more a generational revelation than a socially evolving one. New generations of young adults from across the bridge have taken notice of Astoria, just as their parents did before them, albeit perhaps for different reasons.
In fact, from the beginning, when Astoria went by the name Hallets’s Cove –after its first land owner, William Hallet – it was seen as a place that Manhattanites could go to for a relaxing weekend. With time, came influx of workers and immigrants, as America entered the land of opportunity phase. Soon it was renamed after America’s richest man at the time, John Jacob Astor, in order to ensure an investment of $2000, of which he only gave $500.
And so the growth with or without the aid of John Jacob Astor – who never actually set foot in our great bite of NY – began. The Dutch and the Germans came first throughout the 17th century, with the Irish following suit in the 19th century, as in most of NY at that period.
Soon after came the Italians, bringing with them an array of cuisines and ingredients, along with Jews who also saw the potential of this small part of land.
In the 60’s the Greeks were next to board the ships, flooding the boulevards with Greek flare and Feta cheese as far as the eye could see. Restaurants, cafes, bakeries, all began popping up, and Astoria soon turned into a bustling, entrepreneur of a city with the markings of NY’s very own, little Europe.
Today, the city is a raving multicultural spectrum of diversity, from Moroccans to Croatians, from Egyptian to Lebanese, from Italian to Jew, from all race and religions.
It is a testimonial to New York’s unique ability to bring people together, and an amalgamation of cultural traits which don’t just work well together, but infuse into their own undeniably localized character, sprinkled throughout the city.
The first settlers saw the potential of Astoria, and flocked. The second waves came to the land of opportunity and each dug their own cultural flags.
And now, with the ever increasing globalization of youthful thought – the philosophies of humanity instead of prejudice – the youth of the future are seeing Astoria as the multi-layered cake that it is.
Art, music, culture, cuisine, and identity. And at the heart of it all, that is what Astoria stands for, and always has.
A look into the days to come. The new identity of youth.
So why do people love Astoria? Just go for a walk down Ditmars or Broadway, and see……