by Adam Kuban, 10/22/2014
Astoria Park. Photo: Marley White
One of the neighborhood's gems is leafy 60-acre Astoria Park. Perched partially on a gently sloping hill that affords sweeping views up and down the East River, the park is home to the City's oldest and largest swimming pool—which was used for qualifying events for the 1936 and 1964 Olympics—as well as bocce courts, playgrounds, a running track and a skate park. Another of the neighborhood's beloved outdoor spaces is Athens Square Park, which the park association revamped in 1990 to "create a little bit of Athens in Astoria" (and which was just refreshed in fall 2014, highlighted by a renovation of its plaza). Sculptures of Socrates, Aristotle and Athena surround an amphitheater that in July and August plays host to Greek Night (Tuesdays, 7:30–9pm) as well as Italian Night (Wednesdays); both events entail music and dancing. Rainey Park, on Vernon Boulevard and 34th Avenue, is also popular (and packed on weekends) and has a riverfront promenade with views of Roosevelt Island.