3-Steinway Street IIISteinway Street in Astoria, Queens

The history of Steinway Street, running through Astoria, Queens, is deeply intertwined with the history of the piano maker Steinway and Sons. The street is also a central part of what is historically known as Steinway Village. Today, Steinway Street is a major shopping street with a vast array of stores. A stretch is also home to a micro-neighborhood dubbed Little Egypt.

Steinway and Sons was originally founded by German immigrant and cabinet maker Henry Engelhard Steinway in 1853 on Varick Street in the West Village. After the company began to gain recognition in the late 19th century, it moved to its current location in Astoria, Queens. During this time, Astoria saw a large influx of German immigrants to the area, with Steinway following suit. The influx of his company had a great economic impact and changed the landscape of Astoria–and eventually Steinway Street.

1-Steinway Street ISteinway Street in Astoria Queens

As the company began to expand and provide pianos world-wide, the number of employees began to vastly increase. To provide enjoyment and entertainment for the employees, Steinway’s son, now head of the company, set up Steinway Village on 400 acres of farmland that he purchased. It was a complete company town, and, according to Steinway and Sons, “had its own foundries, factory, post office, parks and housing for employees.” You can take a look into the Steinway Factory through the beautiful images by photographer Christopher Payne.

Inside Steinway Village is also an elaborate Italianiate villa, now known as Steinway mansion built in the mid 19th century. Originally constructed by the Pike family, it was purchased by the Steinway brothers in 1870, along with the land around it. Curbed has a great in-depth piece on the history of the mansion and its current search for a buyer.

At the center of this village, and named after the company that provided so much economic advancement to the neighborhood, was Steinway Street. The neighborhood today fully takes advantage of Steinway’s name, with Steinway Place (location of the factory today) and countless other stores bearing the name.

1-Steinway Street QueensSteinway Street in Astoria Queens

Though the area is indeed home to much production–spurred on by Steinway and Sons–it also is home to a vast array of immigrant populations. Perhaps the most prominently featured group centered on Steinway Street is that of an Arab population. Called Little Egypt, a stretch of the street began to develop a large population of Arab immigrants in the 1970s. The specific area of Little Egypt stretches from Astoria Boulevard to 28th Avenue, and covers just a small portion of land in this diverse street.

Due to the vast range of stores on the street, Steinway Street is a central part of the Steinway Astoria Partnership. The partnership was developed in 1991 to foster and secure the neighborhood’s economic growth. There are a total of 300 businesses involved, with all located from 28th Avenue to 35th Avenue on Steinway Street.

1-Steinway Street VSteinway Street in Astoria Queens

Queens can be hard to navigate the first time, so next time you are in Queens and visiting Steinway Street be sure to read our Cities 101: How to Navigate Queens’ Street Grid!

Read more from our History of Streets column.

Get in touch with the author @spencercnyc