In the late 1800's, as many Czech and Slovaks fled the
oppression of Austria-Hungary, they made their way to America. Many such people
found a home in Astoria, Queens.
In 1892, the Bohemian Citizens' Benevolent Society was formed, named after the medieval Kingdom of Bohemia in the Holy Roman Empire.
Eighteen years later, in 1910, the Society began raising funds for a home for the Czech people in our community. It was to be a haven where the traditions of the homeland would be maintained.
Two adjacent lots, part of a farm, were purchase and on October 1, 1910 the cornerstone of Bohemian Hall was laid.
Older people of the Society remember hearing stories of raising funds - at a penny a brick! Members who were masons, plumbers' and electricians volunteered their services to build Bohemian Hall. These men transformed a patch of Long Island farmland in to an authentic European Beer Garden.
Bohemian Hall was actually built in three sections. What is today the entrance was the first Hall, but it soon became obvious more space is needed. The Sokol Gym or Main Hall was added, and in 1919 the outside Bar and Park were finished - just in time for prohibition which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in America for over a decade!
But Bohemian Hall and Park survived. At one time, over
800 beer gardens were in New York City - three in Astoria alone. Only Bohemian
Hall and Park survives to carry this proud tradition into the new millennium!