Astoria felt a bit like my grandma’s house, a little old and dusty, but still charming and exciting to explore. It’s an area of Queens that seems to be filled with more old people than young, quiet and tucked away, although not far from Manhattan. The ride out there on the subway is half outside, and when you emerge from the tunnel, you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful skyline of Manhattan fall away behind the sturdy brick facade of Queens.
I spent the last couple of weekends wandering around, zig-zagging the streets, checking out the nooks and crannies of a place I didn’t know much about. The first thing I noticed was how bright it was, now that I had left the towers of Manhattan the sun found my shoulders much easier. Astoria looked a little like I would imagine the neighborhoods looked in the 1950s, colored aluminum awnings, white wrought iron front gates, porches with American Flags, old Buicks in the driveways, plastic flowers in flower pots. And although the neighborhood seemed to be stuck in a time that was not the present, the decay that the years had brought with them was evident. There were numerous homes that looked to be abandoned, but the imprint of a once thriving habitat remained.
The businesses and stores were modest and functional. Bakeries, laundry mats, delis, butchers, and produce markets as well as a few small clothing stores that seemed to sell simple things which were practical and necessary and carried not an ounce of self-importance. The streets away from the main avenue were very quiet, I passed a few people here and there, mostly older ladies carrying or carting their groceries home, but each one generous with their smiles.
Incredible smelling smoke was wafting through the air on one of the main intersections in town, and locals were lined up for skewers of meats topped with a piece of lemon bread. I was inclined to taste one but I had just eaten some pastry from a small little bakery down the road, and I wasn’t ready to give up the sugary flavor that still lingered in my mouth.
Up the road from that was a trio of old men, sitting in the sun in front of a laundry mat, and I stopped to take their picture and started chatting with them. They were so proud to share stories of their history in Astoria. One man used to coach the local school’s basketball team, another used to photograph for the local paper, and they all loved Astoria but felt like it was different than it used to be.
When I ascended from the subway back in Manhattan, I felt a comfortable warmth accompanied by a feeling of melancholy. It was like I had spent the day with my grandma, and then I had to say goodbye. For some reason I felt bad for Astoria, like it was lonely. It’s an interesting and wonderful thing when your surroundings have an affect on you like that. Thank you for the visit Astoria, I’ll be back soon.









































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Comments ( 4 ) I quite like this; amoment of reflection perhaps.

James added these pithy words on Mar 21 09 at 4:13 pm

Loving the photo of the cat quietly relaxing and watching the world go by. They have such a wonderful life not having to have a care in the world. I love them.

Great blog!

Daniel Dytrych added these pithy words on Mar 26 09 at 6:20 am

Astoria, my home. Loving it for over 30 years now. Hey, I know that lady (the blonde) she lives on my block. Thank you, you captured the old neighborhood spirit that is quickly slipping away.

Marianne added these pithy words on Apr 02 09 at 9:34 pm

Awesome!!! What beautiful stories, and the pictures. Thank you!!!

Janice added these pithy words on Apr 03 09 at 11:29 am

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