Monday, September 1, 2008

Neighborhood: Astoria

City Guy and I had went to Astoria yesterday to visit with our friends, Book Babe and her boyfriend, Blog Boy. Having only been there a few times before (twice, when looking for places to live--both places were amazingly spacious and affordable--and once to go to infamous beer garden), it was nice to get out of Manhattan and walk around the neighborhood.

It was a gorgeous summer day, and people were sitting in their yards, watching us stroll by and you could almost here the birds chirping, as there was little street traffic to drown them out. The dwellings we saw were mostly these attached two-story single family dwellings. I was struck by how nicely kept the single family dwellings were, many with flower gardens and trees in the front yard--just having a front yard must be such a luxury!We passed this notice from the FX TV show "Damages" looking for a home in the neighborhood to use for filming. Must keep eyes peeled for that episode!Book Babe and Blog Boy have a great apartment right across from Astoria Park, where we and a number of neighborhood families with young kids enjoyed a picnic overlooking the East River at sunset. The park feels like a real park, not as big as Central Park, of course, but not one of these esplanade parks we're used to in Manhattan. This felt like the kind of park you grow up with outside the US--there is a playground, a running track but the highlight is this massive public pool originally built for the 1936 Olympic Swim & Diving Trials. It's the largest pool in NYC. This picture captures half the pool with the Triborough Bridge in the background:
...and this the other half:...and this area for kids to run through the sprinklers in the summer. Both seemed already closed for the season.
That's one nice park. The only unnerving thing is the occasional Amtrak train running on the rails above the park. On the way home, we walked to the Ditmars Station and noticed the great selection of restaurants and stores for the neighborhood--a fishmonger, produce stand, Greek restaurants. I've heard for a long time that Astoria is the new Williamsburg b/c so many artists and musicians have been attracted to the neighborhood's lower cost of living, but it also seems like a really nice place to live too--more tranquil than Manhattan, less tragically hip than Brooklyn.

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