“Humans will be tired of Long Island City when they are tired of life,” is a paraphrased comment on London attributed to 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson.

Find out this modern quote’s accuracy during What’s New in Western Queens? on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 11 a.m.

Greater Astoria Historical Society Executive Director Bob Singleton will lead a walking tour of LIC with an emphasis on history, industry, architecture, demographics, and art.

Singleton, who has written several books on local history, describes LIC as the “Cradle of Creativity.” He’s impressed by the way the district constantly updates, repairs and transforms itself. Over the past two centuries, it has gone from colonial tide mills to an industrial hub to a residential area known for luxury apartments, hotels, and fine restaurants. (Expect more changes in the near future with the improved ferry service from 33rd Street in Manhattan to LIC Landing via the East River.)

Tickets cost $30. Participants will learn the meet-up location upon registration.

Before the 17th century, Algonquin-speaking Native Americans lived in what is now LIC. They mostly survived by fishing in East River, but created a few paths, such as the roadway where 20th Street is today. Dutch colonists started settling there in the 1640s and cleared land to built farms. William Hallet Sr., an immigrant from England, actually purchased much of the land from the Native Americans in 1652.

The area remained rural until the early 1800s, when wealthy Manhattan people started to settle there, nudged by the establishment of ferry service. LIC was officially chartered in 1870 when residents voted to consolidate Astoria, Ravenswood, Hunters Point, and Steinway. LIC then incorporated into New York City in 1898.

The area became industrial in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the opening of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and several subway lines. Local manufacturing declined significantly in the 1960s and 1970s, leading to a period of low growth, high crime and abandonment. The downturn didn’t last long, as the Citylights Building kicked off a boom in residential construction that continues today.

The tour is scheduled to last about two hours. It is organized via a partnership between Singleton and the Municipal Arts Society.

Images: Greater Astoria Historical Society


Join The Discussion

Skip to toolbar