Making Pianos: a look inside Steinway & Sons in Astoria

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Back in the late 1990’s, I lived in Astoria, Queens, in a nice residential neighborhood with only a short subway ride to Manhattan. One afternoon, while exploring the fringes of the neighborhood, I happened upon the Steinway & Sons factory, on a remote northern stretch of Queens just west of LaGuardia Airport. I remember thinking it was pretty desolate, very industrial (near a water treatment plant), and as I looked through Google Street View this morning to try to jar my memory, I came up with this image of the building and the area.

Steinway piano factory in Astoria Queens

I still remember from that time, standing there and thinking what a crappy area it was for the home base of a company that makes the world’s most beautiful and prestigious pianos. I was always curious what it might look like on the inside, but I never really pursued it, and that was pretty much the end result of one afternoon’s exploration almost 20 years ago. But for some reason, the memory of being in that area and thinking of the contrast between the plight of the neighborhood and the luxuriousness of the pianos always stuck with me. So today, when I accidentally happened upon some photographs of the interior of the Steinway factory, it brought back these memories.

The photographs I found were these, taken by Christopher Payne, who has published a book titled “Making Steinway.” His pictures show that indeed there is plenty of beauty on the inside of this factory, as evidenced by these images below:

photo by Christopher Payne of Steinway & Sons

Details of Steinway pianos by Christopher Payne

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