QNS: Astoria street named after founder of local Kaufman Art Studios

Originally published in QNS on September 29, 2021.

A portion of 35th Avenue in Astoria is now named after a prominent figure in the neighborhood’s art scene.

The road between 35th and 36th streets on 35th Avenue will now be known as George S. Kaufman Way as of Saturday, Sept. 25, honoring the life and legacy of the real estate developer.

The co-naming ceremony began on the northwest corner of 35th Avenue and 36th Street. Among those in attendance were Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards as well as family and friends of George S. Kaufman and community leaders.

Kaufman, a playwright and satirist, was a Pulitzer Prize winner for drama and won a Tony award for best director. In his lifetime, he was an avid worker for the growth of art and museums, which feature art from across the city, prominently in Queens. In Astoria, he is best known for transforming a rundown movie studio.

(Photo by Emil Cohen for the New York City Council)

Astoria community members celebrated the street co-naming for “George S. Kaufman Way.” (Photo by Emil Cohen for the New York City Council)

This restored studio, now named Kaufman Astoria Studios, rose to prominence and revived film and television production in western Queens.

“It’s only appropriate that the man who brought feature film production to [Astoria] has a street named after him,” Van Bramer said. “Happy to join friends, family and other elected leaders in unveiling George S. Kaufman Way on 36th Street and 35th Avenue.”

Kaufman Astoria Studio now is the home for a range of media production, from major motion pictures to commercials, with seven column-free stages, including a 26,000-square-foot stage, the largest “east of Hollywood,” according to their website.

Major actors such as Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and Tom Hanks have acted there. Shows such as “Sesame Street” and “Orange is the New Black” have been filmed there, as well as award-winning films such as “The Irishman.”

Among the achievements of Kaufman includes the establishment of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in Astoria. He also served on the boards of The Whitney Museum, Fashion Institute of Technology, Exploring the Arts and the Museum of the Moving Image.