The area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallet’s Cove, after its first landowner William Hallet, who settled there in 1659 with his wife Elizabeth Fones. Beginning in the early 19th century, affluent New Yorkers constructed large residences around 12th and 14th streets, an area that later became known as Astoria Village (now Old Astoria). Hallet's Cove, founded in 1839 by fur merchant Steven Halsey, was a noted recreational destination and resort for Manhattan’s wealthy.

The area was renamed after John Jacob Astor, then the wealthiest man in America, with a net worth of over $40 million, in order to persuade him to invest just $2,000 in the neighborhood. He only invested $500, but the name stayed nonetheless, as a bitter battle over naming the village was finally won by Astor’s supporters and friends. From Astor’s summer home in Hell Gate, Manhattan - on what is now East 87th Street near York Avenue – he could see across the East River the new Long Island village named in his honor; however, Astor never actually set foot in Astoria.

During the second half of the 19th century, economic and commercial growth brought increased immigration from German settlers, mostly furniture and cabinet makers. One such settler was Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, patriarch of the Steinway family who founded the piano company Steinway & Sons in 1853, which today is a worldwide piano company. Afterwards, the Steinways built a sawmill and foundry, as well as a streetcar line. The family eventually established Steinway Village for their workers, a company town that provided school instruction in German as well as English.

In 1870, Astoria and several other surrounding villages, including Steinway, were incorporated into Long Island City. Long Island City remained an independent municipality until it was incorporated into New York City in 1898. The area’s farms were turned into housing tracts and street grids to accommodate the growing number of residents.

Astoria also figured prominently in early American filmmaking as one of its initial centers, a heritage preserved today by the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufmann Studios.

Source: Wikipedia