In 1839, a fur merchant by the name of Steven Halsey founded a village in Hallet’s Cove. It became a famous recreational spot for the rich and famous in New York that time (Jackson, 2003).
Halsey then petitioned the legislators to rename the place after John Jacob Astor, his personal friend and also a famed and rich fur merchant, hoping that Astor would contribute a lot of money ($2,000) for the newly-found place if it were named after him. Unfortunately, he only contributed $500 and never even set foot in the village. Still, the village was named Astoria (Jackson, 2003).
In the early 19th century, many wealthy New Yorkers built large mansions on the 12th and 14th street. And then on the middle 19th century, immigration increased due to the place’s commercial and industrial success, largely of German descent. Most of which are artisans, namely cabinet makers and furniture makers. Probably the most famous of them is Heinrich Steinweg, the patriarch of the Steinway family who are the makers of the pianos, Steinway and Sons. Eventually, their company grew and found a Steinway village for their workers (Jackson, 2003).
Astoria is also famous for filmmaking. Before the film industry discovered the reliable weather in Hollywood, California, much filmmaking was done in Astoria. The Astoria Studio was opened on September 20, 1920 on 36th street, by Famous Players – Lasky. During World War II, the studios were then converted into the US Army Pictorial Center. In 1982, the studios were rejuvenated, thanks to the developer George Kaufman. It was also renamed Kaufman Astoria Studios and it produced many quality films like the Cotton Club, Marvin’s Room and Scent of a Woman. It is also the preferred studio of many advertising agencies and continues to make at least four hundred commercials per year. The Museum of Moving Pictures, a museum dedicated to the movies, is also found in Astoria, just beside the Kaufman Astoria Studios (Jackson,