Nestled in the northern reaches of Astoria lies the Steinway & Sons piano factory – yes, that’s right, the Steinway & Sons, makers of some of the most glorious pianos in the world. And did you know that you can take a tour of the factory itself? Indeed you can – Forbes has rated this factory tour one of the top 3 factory tours in the country, and we agree that is is pretty awesome.
So here’s how to tour the factory. These guidelines are the most up-to-date ones, as of October 2012.
Factory tours are offered from September through the end of June; factory tours are not available in July and August. They occur once a week on a Tuesday, and go from 9:30am until noon, for a group of 15 people, max. The factory has a limited schedule, so therefore the tours must be booked in advance. To schedule a tour email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-721-2600.
The Steinway Factory Tour is a visit to a working factory, and because work is being done constantly and everywhere, there are conditions and restrictions for tour participants, so please note that:
- The factory is large and the tour covers a significant area. You must be able to stand and walk for one and a half to two hours. The tour includes 3-4 flights of stairs.
- There is neither seating nor rest areas available, and there are no restrooms available on the shop floor.
- Open shoes, sandals, flip flops, etc. are not permitted on the tour.
- Canes, walkers and wheelchairs are not permitted on the tour.
- Individuals with pacemakers or similar devices will not be allowed on the tour. (Factory equipment may interfere with the device.)
- Children under the age of 16 are not permitted on the factory tour.
- Note that tour participants will be exposed to dust and chemical odors.
- Photos or videos in the factory are prohibited.
Visitor parking is extremely limited near the factory. Street parking is an option, though it may be limited, too. The factory is about a 15-20 minute walk from the Ditmars N/Q line (the factory is a little over a mile from the subway).
During the factory tour, you’ll witness the entire process of creating a piano, starting with the raw wood (walnut, pear, spruce), to the various veneers (mahogany, rosewood, pommele), to the final tuning, and end with viewing a display of multiple Steinway pianos in an acoustically sensitive setting.
Here are some images from the factory. All photos are courtesy of Steinway & Sons, by photographer Chris Payne.
Bending the rim.
Belly bridge notching.
Working on the hammers as part of the piano action.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since its original publication in 2012.