In the News: Historical Society Promotes Preservation and Awareness

By Jason D. Antos

Photos Jason D. Antos“Northern Boulevard in the Footsteps of Gatsby”, an exhibit of photos at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. The Greater Astoria Historical Society (GAHS), located on the 4th floor of the Quinn Memorial building on Broadway and 36th Street, has been a leading element in the historical preservation of Western Queens since 1985.

The GAHS holds numerous exhibits year-round and contains an archive of photographs and records in their research library named after the late Vincent F. Seyfried, one of the most respected figures of Queens research.

The society also helps to broaden the awareness of the borough’s importance in the annals of not only Greater New York City but in American and world culture as well.

One example was the recent exhibit, “Northern Boulevard in the Footsteps of Gatsby”, which was on display until July, and was inspired by the fact that the GAHS was asked to be a leading consultant on the remake of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.

As a major historical and technical consultant, the GAHS supplied the filmmakers with hundreds of archival photographs to help them accurately capture Queens in the 1920s.

Several Queens locations appeared in the film, including the famous “Valley of Ashes”. This area refers to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the Brooklyn Ash removal company which used the area as a dumping ground for ash and refuse from 1919 until 1938.

GAHS is also currently involved in the preservation of the Steinway Mansion, once home to piano manufacturer William Steinway and his family. The group, Friends of Steinway Mansion, is a program launched by the society that invites business people, historians and the average citizen to contribute and help purchase and restore the mansion so that it could be used as a public showplace.

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