he Feb. 1, 1983 edition of the Gazette reported on a landmark act initiating the modernization and renovation of the Astoria Studio complex. With the help of local, Federal and private funds, the $50 million program put Astoria and Queens on the path to becoming the new Hollywood of the East Coast.
Construction called for the installation of two new sound studios with half of the total funds coming from government grants. The remaining cash came from the dedicated efforts of real estate developer George S. Kaufman who organized the Astoria Studios Limited Partnership that included such investors as Johnny Carson, Neil Simon, Alan King and James Nederlander.
Queens Borough President Donald Manes and City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the improved complex several weeks before on December 13, 1982.
This marked the beginning of what is now called Hollywood East.
Six years later the American Museum of the Moving Image opened its doors next door to the studios that now bear Kaufman’s name. To date it is the only museum in the United States dedicated to exploring the art, history and technology of the moving image. The museum occupies one of the thirteen buildings that comprised the former Astoria Studio complex.
In January 2011, residents and visitors to Western Queens were treated to an updated version of the museum that features additional space and movie theater and performance space all built at a cost of $65 million.
Today, Western Queens is the motion picture and television production capital of the East Coast with film crews seen on the streets, in local businesses and homes on an almost weekly basis.
–Jason D. Antos