In northern Long Island City, between Bowery Bay and the Grand Central Parkway, the Steinway area boasts a proud tradition of craftsmanship and community that goes back more than 130 years.
As the name suggests, the neighborhood is home to Steinway & Sons, the legendary piano maker. In 1870, William Steinway, son of the company founder, purchased a large tract of land in northwest Queens and moved the cramped operations to a new home along the East River. Along with the factory, he built Steinway Village, a company town with its own post office, church, library and housing for employees.
The company also provided a park for recreation. Further east along the river, Steinway established North Beach, an amusement park and beer garden for his mostly German employees. But Queens’ version of Coney Island did not prove as resilient, finally closing with Prohibition. Today the North Beach land is occupied by La Guardia airport.
The Steinway & Sons factory continues its production in the same location today. And using the original, hand-made processes, it is the leading manufacturer of pianos in the world.
While Steinway and neighboring areas have grown and merged, vestiges of the original workers’ village are still easily found. The Steinway Reformed Church is still active at 41 Street and Ditmars. The Steinway Library, which was started from William Steinway’s private collection, is now part of the Queens Library system. The Steinway branch on 31 Street still displays a painting of William Steinway.
The Steinway Mansion, built by Benjamin Pike in 1858 and later purchased by the Steinway, is located on 41 Street, originally Albert Street, named for one of his sons. (Current 42 Street was named Theodore Street, also for one of his sons.)