Steinway & Sons Piano Company History & Legacy
Exclusive Coverage Of The Steinways, Factory, Mansion, History & Legacy
Special Section Dedicated To Our Coverage Of The Steinway Mansion In Astoria.
Exclusive Coverage Of The Steinway Mansion Sale
Updated April 2017 / March 8, 2014 / NYC Neighborhoods & History NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
Queens Buzz didn't expect to become so engrossed in one issue so soon in its development. But the sale of the Steinway Mansion represents the preservation of perhaps the most important remaining remnant of 19th century Queens, and is attached to the legacy of a family that was influential in shaping the borough of Queens.
The more we dig, the more we find, so stay tuned as this section will likely double in size sometime in 2011. And in following the stories we write, you'll obtain greater insight into Queens history, the Steinway & Sons legacy and the emergence of the borough of Queens to become the largest borough in New York City. These stories are presented chronologically, starting with the most recent posting.
Steinway Mansion Contents Auctioned
Will The Historic Site In Astoria Be Next?
April 23, 2011 / NYC Neighborhoods & History NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended the Steinway Mansion contents auction on Saturday, March 27th, down at Capo Auction on Queens Blvd in Long Island City. It was the first of two auctions wherein the contents of the Steinway Mansion, collected over a lifetime by Michael Halberian, were to be auctioned off. The second auction is Saturday, April 30th starting at 11 am and going well into the afternoon.
On March 27th there were over 600 items auctioned, where bidding started in the hundreds to thousands of dollars. In addition to the hundred or so buyers who appeared at the auction house, bids were also taken over the internet.
The photo to your right is of the Indian statue that once stood on the grounds of the Steinway Mansion, with the bidders shown through the doors while the auction was in session in March.
The Steinway Mansion
All Talk & No Actions By City Officials
Steinway Piano & Sons / Smithsonian Diaries
The importance of William Steinway on New York City's and Queens development is quite remarkable. He was a Commissioner of the NYC Transit while it was working underground subway lines, he was the first to start digging tunnels underneath the East River, Steinway Hall preceded Carnegie Hall which was the forerunner to establishing New York City as a cultural center, he once owned the land that would one day become LaGuardia Airport, and he was politically connected as a good friend of president Grover Cleveland ... oh, and one of the founding family members of Steinway & Sons Piano Company which continues to operate a plant in Astoria over 150 years later.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC initiated a project spanning more than ten years during which more than 2,500 pages of William Steinway's Diary was put online. About 40 people came up to view the mansion in March of 2011. If the Smithsonian Institution thinks the Steinway Mansion is historically significant, shouldn't we at least explore options to aquiring the mansion?
The photo at right shows a page from the Steinway Diaries which are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The Greater Astoria Historical Society aided the Smithsonian in gathering information for the exhibit.
The Steinway Mansion was built by Benjamin Pike Jr. Benjamin Pike Jr. was a ingenious businessman and one of the first marketers in this country to sell scientific instruments by catalogue. He made a fortune selling the latest technology, much of which was imported from England and France, but through which pioneers could obtain telescopes, microscopes, surveying equipment and a whole range of other instruments, including batteries, projectors and magnetic instruments used for medical and health purposes. Look at the house in the photo to your right. The Steinway Mansion is the most significant and one of the last, if not the last of the 'country mansions' still standing in Queens. Do you really think we should allow this historic site to be gutted and turned into corporate offices?
The Steinway Mansion has the potential to become a magnet through which tourists might begin altering their vacation plans to explore NYC’s most diverse borough. From the Dutch Kills / Queens Plaza subways [the public transit connection for these hotels], the Steinway Mansion is about a seven minute subway ride and a 15 minute walk.
NYC & Queens officials could leverage the Steinway name, to lure tourists ever so briefly into the borough of Queens. And then let the residents, restaurants, shops and other cultural attractions of Queens work their charm on these intrepid travelers. Queens currently gets very little of the tourist dollars spent by a portion of the 48 million visitors who come to NYC. Isn't it time we begin to claim a small portion of our rightful share?
Steinway Mansion Contents Went To Auction
But at present there isn’t anything being done to acquire the Steinway Mansion. Everyone is for saving it, but nobody does anything.
The collection of historic artifacts collected through a lifetime by the late Steinway Mansion owner, Michael Halberian, began auction on March 26, 2011 and will be completed on April 23rd at the Capo Auction House on Queens Blvd in Long Island City.
Queens Tourist Attractions For 20 Hotels - Opinion
What’s interesting to me is that Queens has the opportunity to capture a share of the NYC tourism market by luring a portion of the tens of thousands of hotel guests who will stay overnight at these Queens hotels. One of the investments Queens and NYC government officials seem reluctant to explore, let alone actually do, is to develop a plan to transition the Steinway Mansion [and by association the Steinway Piano Factory, Steinway Street and the Ditmars area] into an important NYC tourist destination.
I’ve personally spoken to nearly all relevant government officials including the Mayor, Queens Borough President, City Council Members, and NYS and U.S. Representatives. So far there's been a lot of verbal support and no concrete action.
Vallone Urges City To Purchase Steinway Mansion
Van Bramer Supports The Measure With 2nd Letter
Updated October 2, 2010 / NYC Neighborhoods & History NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
On Friday, September 17th, City Councilman Peter Vallone visited owner Michael Halberian at the Steinway Mansion which is currently up for sale. According to Kim Parshley, one of the realtors handling the sale of the home, Peter was so impressed by the historic significance of the mansion and the countless historic artifacts pertaining to NYC collected by Halberian, that he has made a request to the city to purchase the site for posterity.
On September 30th City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents nearby Sunnyside publicly supported the measure and followed up by sending a letter of his own to the Mayor, urging the Steinway Mansion purchase.
Click here to read our first report on the history of the Steinway Mansion.
Help Save The Steinway Mansion
Fall 2010 / NYC Neighborhoods & History NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
The Steinway Mansion is up for sale. It was built in the 1850's, is made of granite, has 27 rooms on four floors [counting the crows nest or basement] and contains over 150 years of Queens and NYC history.
The Steinways of Steinway Piano & Sons were leading Queens citizens who at one time owned the property that is now LaGuardia Airport, began a tunnel under the East River that is now the tunnel for NYC subway lines, and essentially put the neighborhood of Astoria on the map via their piano factory company town. The Steinway Mansion is already a landmark. The Steinway piano factory already attracts hundreds, if not thousands of visitors annually.
Purchasing this landmark would not only preserve an important piece of our history, but also has the potential to increase tourism in Queens by enhancing its attractiveness as an historic and cultural center - all of which is also good for commerce. Click this link to read our report / view our photos of the Steinway Mansion For Sale in Astoria Queens. The photo above is of a skylight in the study of the Steinway Mansion.
Help Peter, Michael & Jimmy Save The Steinway Mansion For Queens NYC
Please email City Councilman Peter Vallone at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jimmy Van Bramer at email@example.com to let them know you support their efforts to Save The Steinway Mansion.
Please copy the following government officials on the email: Councilman Daniel Dromm at firstname.lastname@example.org; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at email@example.com and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also call 311 to register your interest in having the Steinway Mansion preserved by the city for the people of Queens and everyone else.
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