GRAND AVENUE PIZZA, Astoria

by Kevin Walsh

Grand Avenue Pizza is not on Grand Avenue but it is on an avenue that used to be Grand. I’ll explain in a minute.

Today I got out of the cage for my first extended walk west of the Flushing River since March 2020, when the Covid Crisis struck. I’m at the stage where I’ll take a Long Island Rail Road train from home base in Little Neck to Woodside and strike out from there, while still avoiding the subway, which I’m not quite ready for yet. This means I won’t be in Norwood, Eltingville, Georgetown, or Inwood any time soon, but Astoria, Jackson Heights, Maspeth and Glendale are all attainable. We’ll see how far I can go as the weeks pass by.

I was skulking down 30th Avenue in Astoria, which, like most Astoria avenues, I’ve visited before. At 35th Street, I spied a Swiveling Corvington. New repro versions of the long-armed Corvington lamppost (first used in 1915 or so) come in two pieces, with the base and the shaft and then another piece holding the upper shaft and the arm above that. In windy weather, the breeze can catch the upper section and swivel it around, so the light fixture isn’t over the street anymore. I call these the Swiveling Corvingtons. I hope a cover band adopts the name someday.

Anyway there’s something else in the picture that interested me, Grand Avenue Pizza. Now kids, we’re nowhere near Grand Avenue, which is a good 3 or 4 miles away, running from the Grand Street Bridge over the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek generally northeast through Maspeth and Elmhurst to where Queens Boulevard meets Broadway.

So why is this pizza palace named Grand Avenue Pizza? It’s all about history. As explained on the above link, all Queens numbered streets had names until the 1920s, when the Queens Topographical Bureau united all Queens neighborhoods with a single house and street numbering system. And 30th Avenue in Astoria had been Grand Avenue, duplicating the street name in Maspeth. The pizzeria owner knows his Queens history, it seems.

I’d like to go in for a slice and a coke, but let’s not go crazy, now.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

6/8/20

14 comments

Nunzio June 8, 2020 - 9:49 pm

A lot of old-timers still use the old street nomenclature. My 95 year-old mother, who lived in Astoria in the 1940’s still refers to it as Grand Avenue (Though we live 1000 miles away now, and for the last 20 years- Thank God!)- as do a few of my relatives, young and old who still live in Queens. I’m guessing that these days, if you were to say Grand Ave. many locals wouldn’t have a clue- but when I lived there in the late 70’s/early 80’s the name was still widely used (Sheesh, I don’t think I ever heard any locals refer to it as “30th Ave” even in the 80’s). It’s funny how the avenues retained their previous names for so long, while the names of the “streets” were long forgotten.

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tom June 9, 2020 - 8:24 pm

I grew up in Ravenswood but the only old name that kept on was Grand Ave. I knew of the others but they just didn’t hold the appeal. But at the end of 31st Ave at the East River there was a dilapidated pier and we all knew it as Jamaica Dock. Never knew how it got that name till years later when I found out 31st Ave was known at Jamaica ave at one point, why I don’t know and also Paterson Ave. But I knew a lot of oldtimers from the neighborhood and also in Astoria & down In Hunters Point who referred to the old names, in fact, I know someone who to this day still does it and he is younger than me. I”m 70.

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Nunzio June 11, 2020 - 12:49 am

Thanks for the info, Tom! I used to live on 31st. Ave. -and didn’t know that!

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William Mangahas June 9, 2020 - 6:27 am

I noticed that the corvington lamppost facing the wrong way.

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tomR June 9, 2020 - 6:46 am

All that walking deserves you a slice! Elmhurst is always good for a ramble through too.

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Ron S June 9, 2020 - 10:15 am

Even older residents will refer to the previous numbered street grid where the current 31st was 2nd Avenue. When they went shopping they went “down the avenue”. FNY has shown the 2nd avenue signs on a building on Broadway and 31st street.

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S. Saltzman June 9, 2020 - 10:28 am

The NYCTA signage at the 30th , 36th and 39th Street N line stations retained their original names of Grand, Washington and
Bebee Avenue respectively until the last recent renovations.

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Kevin Walsh June 9, 2020 - 5:30 pm

Looks like Victory at Watchogue…

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Ferryboi June 15, 2020 - 12:03 pm

You are correct sir! The triangle where Victory Blvd, Watchogue Rd and Jewett Ave meet in Meiers Corners, Staten Island. Except for the addition of sidewalks, wider streets and no trolleys, the intersection hasn’t changed much. Pete Davidson’s new film “The King of Staten Island” filmed some scenes at the NYFD firehouse just down the block on Jewett Ave.

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Francisco Cividanes June 10, 2020 - 5:26 pm

this pizzeria was originally across the street where jujube tree is now. there was one table that was behind the pizza oven and in the winter was the best seat in the house!

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Andrew Sferrazza June 11, 2020 - 10:59 am

39 ave, used to be called BeBe ave, 36 ave used to be called Washington ave, 21 st. & Astoria boulevard was known as Astoria Square. Astoria boulevard ends at the East river, and there was the 92 street ferry that went 92 street, Manhattan. Only us old timers remember ‘back in the day’

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Anonymous June 11, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Spent so much time in Astoria! My grandparents lived on 35th St and 31st Avenue!

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John McKeon June 11, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Other avenues in Astoria
30th was Grand
28th was Vandeventer
25th was Wilson

Reply

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