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Author Topic: Vanished Astoria  (Read 81880 times)

Offline Chris

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Vanished Astoria
« on: June 18, 2007, 12:01:24 AM »
I've been here for 20 years and the pace of development has picked up rapidly in recent years.   There is construction literally on every block and the demographics are rapidly changing.   

Here are some of the places (before I forget) I went to or remember.

I'll start with a few restaurants.

I remember way, way back my mother was visiting from out of town and we went to a little Italian neighborhood restaurant (much like the recently closed Rizzo's) that was on 30th Avenue just west of Crescent Street.   The one-story building that housed the place was demolished and a slim office building, housing mostly medical offices, went up in its stead.  The restaurant was called The Lanterna.

On the west side of 21st Street, just north of Broadway, was a steak house that I never did get a chance to patronize.   The building was demolished and an apartment building was put up on the site.   A block further north was the restaurant's parking lot, which is now where McDonald's is located.

On my corner (or one of my corners) 30th Avenue & 34th Street three of the four businesses are new since I moved to this location in Astoria in '01.   That shows you how fast things change.  The southwest corner is a Spanish restaurant that I believe was there when I moved in.   I can't remember what was on the southeast corner where that Japanese restaurant that was recently closed by the NYC Health Dept. now is, but when I moved in it was "European style" restaurant that was open 24 hours.  It had just opened or was about to open.   It served crepes and the owner parked his car, which boldy advertised the business, in front of the place.   The "European style" must have bombed because it wasn't open long before closing. The storefront didn't say empty for long because the Japanese place opened immediately.

On the northeast corner a hardware store (which I wish was still there; lord to we need more of these in Astoria) was going just as I was coming.   A restaurant opened that I patronized and liked.  They had great burgers and had a terrific breakfast.   They had a backroom that opened onto 34th Street that was a bar I think and they tried to make a go of the bar by featuring belly dancers for a brief period.   I must have been one of the few who liked the place because there was never anyone in the restaurant and I wasn't surprised to see it closed.   I was actually going there to eat and found it closed.   Surprise.  Surprise.  Surprise.  A new restaurant, with al fresco dining, appears to be doing real well.

On the northeast corner was a convenience store catering to an Indian or South Asian clientele.  It closed and a cell phone store, which was located across the street, moved in.   Next to the cell phone store, on the north side of 30th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets, for a brief period was an Indian desert or sweets shop that lasted about a minute.  I can't remember what was in that space before the sweets shop.    It was kind of pathetic because no one ever went in there and the store display featured cans of soda lined up in a semi-circle surrounded by a big bag of potato chips.   It was kind of cute it was so low budget.   The place quickly closed and since then an Internet access place has opened and appears to be doing well.

And on the west side of 34th Street just north of 30th Avenue are four small storefronts that have completely turned over since I moved in six years ago.   The first store, closest to 30th Avenue, was a cell phone store that was on its last legs when I moved in.   Then, to demonstrate our neighborhood's changing demographics, was a sari shop that actually was featured in the "New York Times" in a feature article.   The place used the same display cases as the defunct cell phone store.   The woman who owned the place was a familiar sight on the street, but earlier this year the place closed and it is now vacant, though it was just renovated so I assume I new business is moving in.  I was surprised the sari shop lasted as long as it did.

Next to the cell phone store/sari shop was a shoe repair place.   I don't think the guy was too busy because every time I walked by he would be watching TV.   His was the second business to close after the cell phone place and the site is now a travel agency that appears to cater to South Asians.

Then the building remodeled and two businesses closed, a barber shop and a women's hair salon.   I would go to the barber, an old guy name Gerry who had been there for 30 years.   He was a great guy and a real character.   His shop had real character as well, with much of the clutter looking like it had been there since the 1970s.    Gerry was getting up there in years and couldn't see so well.   I get my what remains of my hair cut real short, almost down to the skin, and after Gerry got through with me I would go home and check the mirror where I would see this long stalks of hair that Gerry missed.   He worked hard, though, and he wasn't a young man.   Gerry would be in there before 8 six days a week and wouldn't leave until 7.  I'd see him waiting for his son (I presume it was his son) to pick him up.   The irony is that when the renovation was complete a new barbershop opened.   Trouble is he charges $13 and some of the South Asian barbers a few blocks further east charge $8 so you know where I go.

Finally, the fourth shop that never reopened after the renovation was a hair salon that looked like it had been there for years.    What was odd was that a music store opened in its stead called "Enisa" music or something like that.   It featured videos and CDs catering to people I presume from countries that were part of Yugoslavia.    I was kind of surprised that a store catering to such a narrow slice of the market would open, but it didn't stay open long and closed this year.   I'd walk by never see anyone in there and see the woman who worked there playing on her computer.

More to come.

Offline daisy

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 09:23:44 AM »
Chris, you could write a book about Astoria.  I'm amazed at your wealth of information.   :-)

BigBryan

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2007, 09:52:12 AM »
Does anyone remember Murray's Bicycle Shop? It was like an instituion here. Every kid with a bike went to Murray. He was on 31 Ave and 42 ST (?)

He was the best and was really a character.
A real old time NYer, the kind they don't make any more.

Offline Chris

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2007, 02:14:24 PM »
A couple of quickies for the newbies:

The PC Richards electronic superstore next to the Regal movie megaplex was a very good King Cullen supermarket.   There was parking lot on the block before the movie 'plex opened.

The bank on the northwest corner of Steinway & Broadway was for years a Wiz store, the electronics store that went under.

The Duane Reade at the corner of 30th Avenue & Steinway was, until '01, a six-plex movie theatre and was the only theatre in Astoria until the Regal 'plex opened.   They went head-to-head for awhile but then Regal and United Artists, the respective owners of the two 'plexes, merged and the older UA 'plex closed its doors.  There is a great web site called Cinema Treasures where you can read all about all the old movie theatres in Astoria.   There were eight or nine of them, but all but the UA theatre were long closed by the time I moved here.  You will be surprised to find what buildings at one time were movie theatres.

Another corner near and dear to my heart is Broadway & 32nd Street, near where I lived from '87 to '01.    The bank at the northwest corner has been there since I've been here, but it is one of those buildings that was originally a movie theatre.

The northeast corner, which houses Gibneys bar, has always been a bar, but its name when I moved in was "The Clover."    Gibney's is much nicer, though I only went into the Clover once.   I think you needed an AARP card to get served there.   Next to Gibney's on Broadway where there is now a bar was a 99 cents store.

The southeast corner which now houses a cafe was a Greek gift shop before the cafe opened.

The most interesting corner is the southwest corner that now houses a convenience store and a Subway shop last time I looked.   When I moved in there was a clothing store in that space that closed and merged with the clothing store on the same side of Broadway between 32nd and 33rd.   The clothing store on the corner went very deep and the landlord carved up the space so there three stores that fronted on 32nd Street.   There was a tiny Brazilian Restaurant, which has since expanded to have seating, a barber shop and a video store that catered to Indians or South Asians.   I think the latter business is gone.   And when I moved in, on the second floor, was a tailor, but that has been closed.   Then some sort of leather goods store moved into the space, but that is long gone as well.

Offline Chris

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2007, 02:42:23 PM »
A couple of other quickies.

I remember when the Blockbuster, now closed, opened on the southeast corner of 34th Street & Steinway.   I am pretty sure the Blockbuster opened in '89.    Before BB a clothing store, Theo's, had the space.   Theo's moved next door to smaller digs and is still open.    One impact of Blockbuster's coming was the demise of the local, mom 'n pop video stores.   There were three of them on Broadway between 32nd Street & 36th/37th Streets in Astoria and two of them went under shortly after BB opened and the other, between 32 and 33 streets, lasted longer than the other two, but that is gone too.   And there was a small, independent video store on 34th Street on the same block as AMMI and that went under soon after BB opened.

Finally, I don't know if people know this, but the building on the northeast corner of Broadway & 40th Street (or whatever the street is just east of Steinway) was originally a Moose Lodge.   I think the building is a furniture store now, but it has a unique design and I learned from an old timer that the site was originally the lodge.   
« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 02:56:17 PM by Chris »

Offline NYCMacUser

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2007, 02:50:21 PM »
The PC Richards electronic superstore next to the Regal movie megaplex was a very good King Cullen supermarket.
Before King Kullen and it's 3 predecessors the site was a Borden's milk farm. Not just milk production, but cows and all. The entire area was farmland when I was a little girl in the late 40s. When they diversified into other dairy production, they parceled the land and moved out of state.
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Offline mcdirk

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2007, 02:56:27 PM »
I miss the King Cullen.  It was nicer than C Town and I still haven't warmed to Bravo.

BigBryan

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 03:07:44 PM »
Before it was the Wiz - It was Stevens - which also had a branch on Queens Blvd. The Stevens  neon sign flashed its letters in sequence like this

S e e
Stevens
  t v

Stevens was a general store type place that had appliances and electronics, especially TV's and a decent record dept. It was a fun place to shop with good salesmen (sales people).

Offline Chris

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 03:12:38 PM »
Stevens was gone in Astoria anyway by '87.   I do remember that Stevens Store on Queens Blvd., though I only drove by it; I never went in.   It lasted well into the 1990s before going under.

Offline mcdirk

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2007, 03:14:57 PM »
What ever happened to the Wiz?  I think they all went out of business - and they used to have decent music bargains (not to mention cheap computer games).  It was nice to have them at the Steinway/Broadway intersection.

Offline Chris

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2007, 03:30:20 PM »
What ever happened to the Wiz?  I think they all went out of business - and they used to have decent music bargains (not to mention cheap computer games).  It was nice to have them at the Steinway/Broadway intersection.

Cablevision of all people bought them when the original or previous owners got into financial trouble.   Cablevision couldn't make a go of it either so the Wiz chain went out of business.

Offline Chris

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2007, 12:09:58 PM »
The 31st Street/Newtown Avenue intersection has changed a lot.   

The the southwest corner has been and remains Finkelstein's a Goodyear tire place.   

The northwest corner is now the Zodiac lounge/restaurant/cafe. I'm not 100% sure about this but that building I think was part of Finkelstein's tire dealer and looked underused/unused until the building was renovated and the Zodiac opened in the 1990s.    There are actually apartments about the Zodiac that are supposed to be quite nice, at least that is what the "New York Times" said when they wrote about them when the building was remodeled and the Zodiac opened.

The northeast corner now features a candy shop, not yet open, that replaces an Internet cafe that seemed to open and close in about a New York minute.   When I walked by a week or two ago the Internet cafe had closed and the food was still in there mouldering.   The place had been a print shop that had been there since I moved to Astoria in '87.    There is another little convenience store on the block called "The Himalaya" and that just closed and I think they are moving operations to the corner where the print shop/short-lived internet cafe was.

The southeast corner is currently under renovation and, according to this board anyway, a bank is moving in.   When I first moved here the place was a Volvo dealer or a Saab dealer or a repair place for a European auto manufacturer.   I can no longer remember if it was even open when I moved here or opened and then closed.   In any event, a cafe opened (I forget the name) -- roughly at the same time as the Zodiac opened -- and I thought it did well, at least in the warm weather months when the tables were moved to the sidewalk.    At one point the cafe closed and renovated and reopened but the renovation didn't work and the place went under.   

There are a number of residential developments are Newtown between 31st and 21st.   There are at least six under various stages of construction or completed that I can think of off the top of my head.

There is an Italian restaurant on Newtown, two blocks east of 31st on the north side of the street that I don't think was open when I moved here.   Right next door was a steak house that I assume was owned and run by the folks who run the Italian place.   That has closed fairly recently and the Italian place took over the space.    I've never been to the Italian place and never went to the steak house.  I would like to go to the Italian place, though.     


Offline mcdirk

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2007, 12:42:55 PM »
I think the club across the street (diagonally) from Zodiac was Byzantium, but I could be wrong.

Offline DomNation

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2007, 02:43:50 PM »

On the west side of 21st Street, just north of Broadway, was a steak house that I never did get a chance to patronize.   The building was demolished and an apartment building was put up on the site.   A block further north was the restaurant's parking lot, which is now where McDonald's is located.



That used to be "Charcoal Grill " steak house for many years and later in the '90's it changed it's name to "Ranch steak house"

Offline NYCMacUser

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Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2007, 03:23:10 PM »
That used to be "Charcoal Grill " steak house for many years and later in the '90's it changed it's name to "Ranch steak house"
Oh! How I miss this place. I thought they were trying to find another location. But it seems not. Great food, terrific prices, excellent service.
Women are like teabags.
We don't know our true strength
until we are in hot water! â€”Eleanor Roosevelt

Astorians

Re: Vanished Astoria
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2007, 03:23:10 PM »

 

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