Another perfect example of this ancient street layout is located at the corner of 20th Avenue and 41st Street in the Steinway section of Astoria. In 1843, Henry Steinweg, a German piano manufacturer, emigrated to New York City from Seesen, Germany. His sons Henry Jr. and Theodore set about making pianos renowned the world over as the finest ever made. Henry Jr.’s and Theodore’s younger brother, William, continued the family tradition and moved the operations of Steinway Pianos to Astoria. Between 1870 and 1873, Steinway purchased 400 acres of land in Northern Astoria and not only built the spacious Steinway Piano Factory but a small town with a library, a church, a kindergarten, housing for factory workers and a public trolley line. From 1877 through 1879, Steinway constructed a group of row houses, rented to workers of the piano factory, on Winthrop Avenue (today’s 20th Avenue) and on Albert and Theodore (41st and 42nd) Streets. Albert and Theodore were sons of Henry Steinway and assisted in company operations.
Photo Jason D. Antos In one of the most constantly changing cities in the world, it’s a miracle how certain items of the past remain untouched by the passage of time.
On 33rd Street and Astoria Boulevard a sign advertisement high up on a lamppost still points the way to the Roy Rogers drive-thru now long extinct and since replaced by a Burger King. If one looks closely, the remains of an ancient signpost, storefront, street sign or advertisement becomes an unexpected treat for fans of history and nostalgia.
Here are some examples that still exist in present day Astoria.
Underneath the 31st Street subway elevated trestle, a blue and white porcelain sign still marks the road as 2nd Avenue. More than a century ago, each neighborhood in Queens had its own street numbering and naming system. As the area grew this caused much confusion and a standard street renaming program took place during World War I.