While wandering around the neighborhood one day, I happened across the famous Jackson Hole “Airline Diner.” The restaurant had a brief appearance in the classic 1990 film “Goodfellas,” and those of us who live here amongst the blessed hills of Astoria make it a point of acknowledging when one of our own gets famous and you don’t get more famous than appearing in a Scorcese film.
It’s a magnificent bit of neon signage, on this diner found on Astoria Boulevard.
The ‘Idlewild Airport’ scenes used the cargo buildings of Kennedy Airport. Idlewild became Kennedy Airport in 1963, but it’s near to New York’s other main airport, LaGuardia, that you’ll find the ‘Airline Diner’, where the grown-up Hill (Ray Liotta) and pal Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) steal a truck. It’s now part of the Jackson Hole franchise. Confusingly, but thankfully, it keeps the famous old neon ‘Airline’ sign. You can grab a burger in the classic pink and chrome interior of the Jackson Hole Diner, 69-35 Astoria Boulevard at 70th Street in Queens (tel: 718.204.7070).
I’ve only eaten here once, and that was a burger after a funeral 20 years ago, so I can’t really comment on the food. I have heard good things about the establishment from area wags and local informants.
For me, the star of the show in this place remains the neon signage and its supremely modern design. “Modern” is a bizarre thing to call something that was in fashion 40 to 50 years ago, I think, but this diner just exudes “jet set” and an era in Queens upon which the sun has set. How dynamic the culture of urban and industrial design once was, around these parts, continually astounds and excites.
For a shot of Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci at the location in the Goodfellas movie, click here.
Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.