Vintage Photos Show What Astoria Looked Like More Than 75 Years Ago

Image via NYCMA

If you live in Astoria, then you know that one of everyone’s favorite topics of conversation is change:  how the neighborhood is changing, how it’s changed, and how it might change in the future.  But if you want to know how much it’s really changed, as well as how much it hasn’t, check out these vintage photos of Astoria, released for the public’s viewing by the New York City Department of Records & Information Services and the New York City Municipal Archives Collection. This past December, they made some 720,000 tax record images from the early 1940s available to the public, showing all the neighborhoods of New York.

The images were taken for tax reasons (that’s why you see the plaque with the lot number at the bottom of each photo), but now they serve another purpose: as a time capsule showing what all your local haunts used to look like — if they had been built. Below is a very small fraction of the collection. Can you recognize where the photos were taken?

vintage astoria, kaufman studios

Image via NCYMA

Recognize this stately structure on 35th Avenue? It’s Kaufman Astoria Studios, way back before 36th street was gated off as a backlot — that wouldn’t happen until 2014.


How about these two establishments? You might recognize the one on the right as Crescent & Vine, while the one on the right is the new location of its sister hangout, Fatty’s. C&V used to be a hairdresser, and the old Fatty’s was O’Leary’s pub. The new location’s former occupant is a little hard to make out, but looks like a shop. (If you remember it, tell us!)


Ditmars Boulevard was always a center of business, full of shops and services for everyday life, like this laundromat at 36-12 (left) and the stationary store at 28-13 (right). Also check out those cars!

Of course, Ditmars wasn’t the only business hotspot; you could find businesses all over the neighborhood. Do you recognize these? The shop on the left became HiFi Records on Steinway, and the barbershop on the right became Lockwood on 33rd Street.


Many of the prewar-style homes haven’t changed much, and many even sport the same accents and decorative elements. One thing you might notice, though, is the lack of trees!


And some homes were downright swanky. These large houses on 19th Street, across from the park, were quite stately. The house with the columns, on the left side of the photo, can still be seen much unchanged today.

Want to find what your home or your favorite spot looked like in the 1940s, or just to browse some great vintage photos of Astoria? Check out the New York City Department of Records & Information site. There are instructions at the bottom for exactly how to enter in the address you’re looking for, or you can just browse. The other four boroughs have their own sections, and there are also more tax photos from the 1980s which are worth checking out. Share your favorite image with us!