Not far from Long Island City  is Astoria, one of the oldest settlements in Queens . It was developed in 1839 by John Jacob Astor, who built it up into a thriving shipping port. Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the neighborhood was the center of the movie-making business on the East Coast; Astoria Movie Studios produced such legendary stars as Rudolf Valentino and Gloria Swanson.
Astoria today is a stable and well-kept working- and middle-class community with the largest concentration of Greeks outside of Greece. Greek shops can be found along 30th Avenue between 31st and Steinway Streets, while Broadway is home to numerous Greek bakeries and butcher shops, the latter advertising baby pigs, baby lambs, and baby goats for sale. To reach the Greek community directly from Manhattan , take the N train to 30th Avenue.
The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave., at 37th St., 718/784-4520 www.movingimage.us , 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Tues.–Fri., suggested admission adults $7, children under 8 free) houses over 70,000 artifacts covering all aspects of the film industry—from make-up to fan magazines. On hand are hands-on exhibits in which visitors can create their own animated films, design soundtracks, and the like. The museum also boasts an excellent screening program; call for schedule.
In the fall of 2005, the Museum of the Moving Image began a $25 million expansion that will double its exhibition space. Plans include a new outdoor theater and garden, more gallery space, and a new virtual space, the VR room, where computer programs will simulate three-dimensional alternative realities.
The museum is housed in a section of the old Astoria Movie Studios (34-12 36th St.), other parts of which were reopened as the Kaufman-Astoria Studios in the late 1970s. Among the many movies and television shows that have been completely or partially produced here are The Wiz, The Verdict, The World According to Garp, and The Cosby Show.
To reach the Museum of the Moving Image directly from Manhattan , take the R or G train to Steinway Street and walk south to 35th Avenue.
Among Astoria’s many Greek restaurants, bright, 24-hour Uncle George’s (33-19 Broadway, at 34th St., 718/626-0593, $9) is an inexpensive neighborhood favorite.
Informal Telly’s Taverna (28-13 23rd Ave., between 28th and 29th Sts., 718/728-9056, $16) offers especially delicious grilled lamb dishes and an outdoor garden in summer.
Another beloved spot that’s busy in summer, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (29-19 24th Ave., 718/274-4925), a huge Czech beer garden, serves amazing kielbasa and potato pancakes.
To make your own meal, Titan Supermarket (25-56 31st St., between 25th and 30th Aves., 718/626-7771) is an especially popular stop for Greek groceries.