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Known as Hallets Cove in the eighteenth century, the area was given its current name in honor of the elder John Jacob Astor, who had his summer home across the river (where Washington Irving wrote his great work "Astoria"). The residents changed the name in the hopes that Astor would donate money to the village's young ladies' seminary; he eventually sent $500. Astoria later became part of Long Island City.
The area is just a few minutes from Manhattan by subway and is primarily residential, except for a major industrial area along the East River. Apartments and two- and three-family homes predominate. It has a largely Greek influence, with the largest Greek population outside of Athens, but Italian, Asian and South American cultures also have influence. The major shopping streets -- including Steinway Street, Broadway, Ditmars Boulevard and 30th Avenue -- feature a variety of shops and cafes.
Astoria is also home to the Kaufmann-Astoria Studios, the
largest motion picture production facility on the east coast. This film,
television and radio production center, which opened in 1920, has hosted
productions featuring entertainers from the Marx Brothers to Bill Cosby. The
adjacent American Museum of the Moving Image celebrates this legacy.
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