What It’s Like to Live in Astoria, Queens


Catherine and Tom Metzger lived in a six-floor walkup apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, in 2022. They decided that Tom Metzger would need more room to be able to work from home comfortably. Seaman, a 31-year-old gynecologist who works at Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, needed to be able to commute easily. Seaman, a 31-year-old gynecologist from Queens needed a place that was easy to commute to Mount Sinai Hospital in the Upper East Side. They found it across the East River in Astoria Queens. Dr. Seaman commutes in half an hour by ferry and CitiBike. “When you walk around, there aren’t a million people,” said Dr. Seaman added.

With two-story brick houses, new multifamily development and an easy commute to Manhattan Astoria is attracting renters, buyers and investors who are looking for more space at a lower price than Manhattan or Brooklyn. That influx of young residents and new construction has resulted in “a mix of traditional and trendy,” said Adrienne Onofri, a journalist and the author of “Walking Queens,” which maps out walking tours of Astoria and surrounding neighborhoods.

John LaPolla III and Brittany Barb have lived in Astoria since 2014, first in rental apartments and now in a two-family house they bought for $1.09 million in 2021. “It was definitely the most affordable option for what we were looking for,” said Mr. LaPolla, 35, who owns a Long Island-based flooring business that takes him around the tristate area, making Astoria’s location near highways and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge an asset.

But they also appreciate that “the sense of community is really strong,” said Ms. Barb, 33, a photographer.

The couple bought their home from a family that had owned it for half a century. Mr. LaPolla noted that “everyone around us is a local resident and has a sense of pride in the neighborhood.” “It still feels like a working-class area; it feels like people are making the sauce on Sunday.”

Stephen LoRusso, 33, a video editor, likes the leafy streets and homey atmosphere of the area, where he has rented since 2015. “I wave to my barber every day when I walk past,” he said.

And Queens, he added, is “still relatively affordable compared to Brooklyn.”

What You’ll Find

Astoria is bounded by the East River to the north and west; Long Island City, Sunnyside Gardens and Woodside to the south; and Jackson Heights to the east.

The Ditmars-Steinway section of Astoria, north of Ditmars Boulevard, tends to be quieter, with one- and two-family houses. New multifamily buildings are rising in other parts of Astoria, including the East River waterfront.

Being on the water sets Astoria apart from many New York City neighborhoods, said Craig Wood, the founder and chief executive of Cape Advisors, the developer of the new 534-unit Astoria West apartment complex overlooking the East River. The location, he said, was “a gem waiting to be found.”

New commercial developments include Wildflower Studios, a seven-story, 775,000-square-foot film production studio under construction on 19th Avenue, backed by the actor Robert De Niro, among other investors.

What You’ll Pay

Kenny Lee, an economist for StreetEasy, said online searches for rentals in Astoria have increased by 32 percent in the past year, attributing that to people who have returned to work in Manhattan offices and are looking for easy commutes.

According to information provided by StreetEasy, in the 12 months ending July 31, 2023, the median asking rent increased to $2,600, from $2,290 during the previous 12 months.

The number of home sales recorded by StreetEasy declined in the past year: In the 12 months ending on July 31, 2023, 78 co-ops sold, down from 88 during the preceding 12 months; 129 condos sold, down from 215; and 248 single-family homes and townhouses sold, down from 387. According to Mr. Lee, this is likely because rising mortgage interest rates have put many buyers off. There are many options for serious foodies, such as Mexican, Egyptian, Moroccan, and Italian in the Little Egypt section of Steinway Street. Bohemian Hall, a social club and beer garden founded more than a century ago, is a legacy of an earlier wave of Czech and Slovak immigrants.

“We made a promise to ourselves when we moved here that we’d go back to Manhattan for dinner once a week,” Dr. “But most weeks we don’t — there are so many fun restaurants and bars here.” “But most weeks we don’t — there are so many fun restaurants and bars here.”

While some national retail and restaurant chains are venturing into Astoria, including a Target that’s coming to 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard, many of the businesses are mom-and-pop operations where proprietors get to know their customers, said Sonia Mylonas, who covers the neighborhood with a website and a magazine called Give Me Astoria.

The oldest and largest city pool in New York City is in Astoria Park, which stretches along the East River, under the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) and the Hell Gate railroad bridge.

The Schools

Astoria has 13 public elementary schools, including a charter school, and three intermediate schools. The Baccalaureate Global School, which is a rigorous International Baccalaureate school, caters to students from seventh through twelveth grades. Public high schools near Astoria are William Cullen Bryant High School (also known as Long Island City High School), Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and Long Island City High School. Private options include St. John’s Prep, a coed Roman Catholic school for students in ninth through 12th grade.

The Commute

Traveling to Astoria from Midtown Manhattan by subway usually takes less than half an hour on the N, W, R or M lines.

The N.Y.C. The Ferry opened in 2017 and zigzags along the East River connecting Astoria with East 90th Street Manhattan, Roosevelt Island in Long Island City, East 34th Street near Wall Street, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Pier 11 in Brooklyn. The fare is $4 one way, or $27.50 for 10 trips.

The History

The worlds of music and film both have legacies in Astoria. Henry Engelhard Steinway founded Steinway & Sons in Manhattan in 1853. His son William moved operations to Queens early in the 1870s. Around 300 people work at the Astoria location, which houses Steinway’s American HQ and a piano factory that produces over 1,200 pianos per year. During World War II the studio was used for military training films. The studio is still used for commercial, TV and movie productions.