Astoria, Queens, is home to “Little Egypt” on Steinway Street, between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard. Arabic restaurants and other shops began to open in the area in the 1980s and 1990s. The nickname “Little Egypt” has been cited in print since at least 1998 and 1999.
The same area of Astoria is also sometimes called “Little Morocco,” mostly because of the restaurant by that name at 24-39 Steinway Street.
Wikipedia: Astoria, Queens
Astoria is a neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the borough of Queens in New York City. Located in Community Board 1, Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside (bordering at Northern Boulevard), and Woodside (bordering at 50th Street).
Astoria is a diverse neighborhood with many immigrants from places such as Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, the neighborhood’s Arab population grew from earlier Lebanese immigrants to include people from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco. In the 1990s, Steinway Street between 28th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard saw the establishment of many Arabic shops, restaurants and cafes.
31 July 1998, Newsday (New York, NY), “Food Day” by Sylvia Carter, Weekend, pt. 2, pg. B23:
EVER SINCE MY FRIEND Allan went to Egypt last year, he has been enamored of all things Egyptian. He has gravitated toward fragrant mint tea and toward a part of Astoria that could easily be called Little Egypt.
Elwady is a mainstay of that section, just south of the BQE on Steinway Street. Across from Elwady there’s a mosque. Also across the street and a few doors south, you’ll find the esteemed Kabab Cafe. On the same side of Steinway Street, across from Kabab Cafe, there’s a coffeehouse frequented mostly by Egyptian men.
17 November 1999, Newsday (New York, NY), “The New New Yorkers: Little Egypt is Growing; Astoria immigrants drawn to similar cultures” by Annia Ciezadlo, pg. A41:
Back home in Egypt, Ali El Sayed lived in a building full of Greeks and Italians. In the ancient port city of Alexandria, there were so many immigrants that he grew up calling all the Italian waiters “Mario,” and the Greek bartenders all answered to “Kosta.” “The Greeks have been involved with Egyptians for almost 2,200 years!” he said last week in his own coffee shop on Steinway Street. While serving honey cakes dusted with cinnamon at his Astoria shop, he described ancient spice routes among Egypt, Greece and Rome. “Cleopatra, what was she? Greek! And Mark Antony? Italian!” In the not-so-ancient borough of Queens, the trade routes of Middle Eastern antiquity seem to run in reverse, re-creating the old world in miniature.
New York (NY) Times
A Cultural History Faces Stringent Smoking Laws
By COREY KILGANNON
Published: March 9, 2004
Of the roughly 20 hookah bars in New York City, about half are clustered along a short stretch of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, known as Little Egypt. Here in the hazy cafes, owned mostly by Egyptian immigrants, men smoke fruit-flavored tobacco called shisha through water pipes called hookahs as they banter in Arabic, play chess or backgammon, or simply pass the day in a fragrant fog.
New York (NY) Times
Astoria Journal; Where Tea Doesn’t Mix With Political Sympathies
By ABEER ALLAM
Published: August 28, 2005
At El Khaiam cafe on Steinway Street in the middle of what is known as Little Egypt in Astoria, Queens, Arab immigrants sit around imitation marble tables and chat animatedly as they play backgammon or cards. They sip ink-black Egyptian tea or tart lemonade and smoke fruit-flavored tobacco from stained-glass water pipes.
New York (NY) Times
Local Stop | Astoria
A Mediterranean Village on the East River
By FLORA ZHANG
Published: May 20, 2010
Astoria, perhaps best known as the Mediterranean hub of Queens, brims with life on warm evenings, as the cafes flicker with lights and laughter fills the streets. There are pockets of Greeks and Arabs in the area, women rustle by wearing hijabs, and some of the buildings are painted white and turquoise, just like the island houses of the Aegean. But hurry. The neighborhood — just 15 minutes from Midtown on the N or W line — is changing as other ethnic groups arrive and chain stores supplant little shops.
Two overhead televisions cycle through Arabic music videos, camel statues watch you from wall insets and, for a moment, you will feel like you are in Cairo and not Astoria’s Little Egypt.
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Is there a “Little Morocco” neighborhood in NYC somewhere?
Actually, there is. It’s the section of Steinway Street from Astoria Blvd down towards Northern Blvd. Take the R or V local to Steinway Street. The stop is about in the middle.
There is an actual restaurant called Little Morocco on this street.
I found this by accident looking for a specialty shoe shop that was supposed to be on Steinway.
Oh and my Astoria expert (a friend who grew up there and goes back almost monthly) says the area is also know as Little Egypt, Little North Africa and has the greatest density of 99 cent shops she’s ever seen.
I never found the shoe shop.
New York (NY) Daily News
Little Egypt in Astoria, Queens turns from joy to anger after Hosni Mubarak refuses to leave office
BY Erica Pearson and Corky Siemaszko
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Originally Published:Thursday, February 10th 2011, 2:35 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 10th 2011, 6:12 PM
New York’s “Little Egypt” erupted with anger Thursday after hated President Hosni Mubarak refused to step down.
Swearing at Mubarak’s flickering image on the TV in both English and Arabic, furious emigres in Astoria, Queens, heaped abuse at the hated despot.
New York City • Neighborhoods • (0) Comments • Friday, February 11, 2011 • Permalink