For as long as Queens has been around, it’s been a landing ground for people coming to America. Germans, Greeks, Dutch, Bengali, Chinese, Arabic, Russians, Italians, Jews…Queens has more languages than anywhere in the world, with over 800 languages spoken throughout the borough.
Equal parts old school New Yawk, equal parts fresh to death gentrification, Astoria is one of the neighborhoods where the hipster hasn’t strangled the culture out of..yet. Instead, Astoria is a hybrid where you can still get old school Greek food from a grandma who still forces you to finish your plate, and grab an adult slushie from a tatted chick just a few blocks over. Astoria is truly old world meets new and definitely worth a visit from you this weekend!
How Astoria got it’s name
- The area was formerly known as Hallet’s Point and renamed Astoria after John Jacob Astor (then the wealthiest man in America worth $40 million) in the hopes that he would invest in the land. In the end he only invested $500 and never stepped foot on the place. Dang, Queens got played
Sing us a song Piano Man
- Steinway Street is one of Queens’ most famous streets but did you know it was named after the infamous family behind Steinway and Sons pianos? The streets were alive with the sound of music when Astoria was nothing but a commune for it’s workers of mainly German descent.
Stepping inside Agnanti feels like walking into your grandma’s kitchen, where she dotes over you with homemade pita and white wine. Start off with an order of zucchini and cheese croquettes, coupled with a fresh greek salad, an off-the-menu moussaka, and a side of the best lemon potatoes in the borough. End with a tasty and tart greek yogurt for dessert. You’ll feel as stuffed as dolmades, but oh so happy once you’re done.
Madame Sou Sou
Whether you’re craving a Greek-style frappe, a triple chocolate donut or a fresh homemade chorizo quiche, Madame Sousou has something to satisfy any craving. They’re the perfect spot when you’re working from home, craving space to get in a good read, or for post-yoga pick me up. They’ve also recently expanded, so now you don’t have to feel guilty for hanging around for a few hours sampling all their delicious treats.
Ditmar’s Thrift Store
Digging through this donation based thrift store is the perfect way to spend an afternoon for any bibliophile. Grab a matcha or coffee to go from the nearby Queens Room and wander through stacks on stacks on stacks of $1 books and records. You may have to dig, but that’s half the fun. You’ll find everything from this amazing Barbra Streisand vinyl to a 1986 romance novel about the torrid love affair between a British Naval Officer and a Polynesian princess.
Socrates Sculpture Park
Transformed by a group of artists and local community members in 1986, what was once a landfill and illegal dumpsite is now an internationally renowned outdoor museum and exhibition space. Just a hop, skip, bike or quick cab ride away from the Broadway stop, the park is open from 9 am to sundown, 365 days a year. Socrates features groundbreaking contemporary artists who create large-scale beautiful installations using a mix of glass, concrete, paint, plaster, vinyl and more. The best part? It’s completely free – unless like me, you can’t resist the allure of the Mr. Softee truck nearby, a rainbow sprinkles vanilla cone is the perfect companion…trust me.