On January 18, 2022, the Department of Design and Construction announced the reopening of the Steinway Library at 21-45 31st Street in Astoria. Steinway Library is one of the three original branches from 125 years ago that became the Long Island City Public Library system, later known as the Queens Borough Public Library. Prior to the pandemic, Steinway Library served almost 200,000 customers and circulated over 225,000 materials annually.
The historic branch’s current building was constructed in 1956. The renovations include an ADA-accessible ramped entrance and an elevator reaching all three levels of the library. The elevator shaft was built externally on the back of the building to preserve the interior of the library. The other upgrades included a new book returns machine by the main entrance, three new bathrooms in the cellar including an all gender, single occupant restroom, and the construction of new staff and managing offices. The second floor children’s area, multipurpose room and teen area were renovated to have new ceilings, floors, lighting and furniture. A new security system, expanded Wi-Fi capability and an audio visual system were also installed.
The project cost $4.9 million. Funding was provided by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, former Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and former Council Member Costa Costantinides.
The project was managed by DDC and designed by Huff + Gooden Architects. The architect was selected through the Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 program, which pre-selects and pre-qualifies design firms to work with on DDC projects with budgets of up to $50 million. The program aims to reduce the selection process time. The construction was done was XBR, Inc., an Astoria contractor.
DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley stated, “The renovations at Steinway Library improve and update a vital community resource for Astoria; a new elevator also opens the library to more New Yorkers, including persons with disabilities. This project is an example of the great work we are able to perform on behalf of Queens Public Library to create and enhance educational spaces for communities throughout Queens.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. stated, “The historic Steinway Library has been a critical anchor of this community for the generations of families who have passed through its doors. With this multimillion dollar renovation effort complete, all Astoria families, regardless of ability, finally have equitable access to the educational and enrichment opportunities this library provides. Thank you to the Queens Public Library and the NYC Department of Design and Construction for making this project a reality and providing the readers and residents of Astoria with a state-of-the-art facility to learn and grow — they deserve nothing less.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)