Astoria, named in honor of the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor, has as its showpiece one of the most outstanding parks in all of Queens County. Astoria Park, located on the East River around the bend from Pot Cove, has been around since long before our much-heralded Flushing Meadows Park.
In September 1916 a steel arch bridge was completed over the most wicked stretch of the East River and over the park, to carry freight and passengers for the Pennsylvania Railroad between Astoria and Manhattan. The architect was Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935). The Hell Gate Bridge is unique in that it would be the last New York City span to collapse if humans were to disappear. It would take at least 1,000 years to fall without the maintenance of mankind, compared to 300 years for the other bridges. It was proudly updated and painted red in 1996.
Among Queens green spaces, Astoria Park boasts valuable waterfront with a spectacular view second to none. It’s bounded by the East River, 25th Avenue, Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street. While the Hell Gate runs over its northern end, the RFK-Triborough Bridge runs over its southern. It is also one of Queens’ smaller major parks, with only a little less than 60 acres, compared to Flushing Meadows’ approximately 1,257 or Alley Pond’s roughly 464.
But it has the City of New York’s oldest pool, one 54,450 square feet in size, built under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses for the 1936 Olympics trials. The art deco pool was used again for the 1964 Olympic trials. Today neighborhood residents take full advantage of the park and its pool and are very proud of them. Many people squeezed by Manhattan rents who have come over to Queens are very happy living next to Astoria Park.