I have a lot of fond memories of this place. Almost 60 acres, the park has open lawns, slightly wooded areas, playgrounds, a running track, a skate park, bocce courts, fourteen tennis courts; and the center attraction for many residents of the area: the Astoria Pool. Opened in 1936, it’s New York City’s oldest and largest swimming pool, measuring 54,540 square feet. It was used for qualifying events for the 1936 and 1964 Summer Olympics. That big.
The park borders the East River, adjacent to the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. The backdrop of Manhattan provides magnificent evening and nighttime views. “‘Hell Gate’ you say. Why is it called that?” Well the waters in this section of the River, especially under the bridge, form incredibly dangerous whirlpools. Back in 1904 they were infamous for dragging the PS General Slocum, a passenger steamboat, down to its watery grave. One of the playgrounds, Charybdis Playground, is across the very same waters and is properly named after one of the two sea monsters of the Odyssey. It used to be my favorite playground growing up.
These days you’re more likely to find me simply strolling along the park’s paths with my dog, or laying on one of the lawns reading. Astoria Park provides the surrounding residents a perfect place to recreate, to relax, to have fun. Even with all the changes happening in this area, the park has remained a sturdy rock in this area of the City.