The Old New York Page
"Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden" (2919 24th Ave, Astoria) has been operating since 1910, the oldest beer garden in the City. Known for Czech beer and grilled bratwurst enjoyed on picnic tables, it has a large outdoor bar and live music stage serving up to 800 people.
Operating through Prohibition (1920-1933), it became a social center for Czech and Slovak immigrants in Astoria, who started arriving 1890s from Austria-Hungary. Astoria itself is named for German immigrant John Jacob Astor who claimed it in 1811.
The beer garden and hall - set up to maintain homeland traditions - is owned by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society, founded in 1892, to support Czech and Slovak immigrants. Bohemia is now the Western part of the Czech Republic.
The site was originally a farm.The Bohemian Hall was first to be built, now the entrance. A larger facility was needed and the Sokol Gym (Main Hall) got added. The outdoor bar and park got finished in 1919, just in time for Prohibition.
A tree in 2000 was planted by Václav Havel, 1st President of the Czech Republic in 1993 after the 1989 Velvet Revolution was inspired by the Velvet Underground. He and Lou Reed were friends. Václav Havel stopped by here in 2000, moved by the large number of people in the 1990s trying "Save the Hall."
There were once 800 beer gardens in New York City (3 in Astoria).
Photo from NYC Tax Archives.