From its mid-nineteenth century origins as a suburb of Manhattan to the 1898 consolidation of New York City to its modern incarnation, Astoria, Queens has always one of the city’s foremost and most multicultural commercial and residential centers.
The recently approved Astoria rezoning proposal aims to preserve the character of the neighborhood by employing “contextual zoning districts.” These revised designations are more limited than the districts that have been in place since the original zoning in 1961, and will more closely mirror the scale, density, and character of existing buildings.
In light of this rezoning, we searched our archives to find books and reports that highlight the housing and planning history of the neighborhood.
Plan for New York City: Queens
In 1969, the New York City Planning Commission published its plan for the city – its vision of the current state of the boroughs and what would be needed to make each neighborhood viable in the coming years. The Plan covers each district in the entire city individually, noting histories, populations, and resident industry, housing conditions, educational resources, and available shopping, transportation, recreational, and community facilities.
According to the Planning Commission’s write-up of the Astoria neighborhood, Community Planning District 1, “this district is both a pleasant residential community and a prospering industrial section.” However, the summary notes, “the unplanned mix of houses and industry has become a source of conflict and is detrimental to both.”
The report also identifies the potential for increased waterfront residential and recreational development, as well as the need for transportation improvements. The Commission discusses the significant traffic congestion in the area, and suggests that Astoria should both be better served by public mass transit and expand existing roads.