Once upon a time, this wasn’t the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks,” rather this was the center of town. 18th century residents would ask “What on earth could have happened to Maspeth Creek?” were they able, and “Where is the Town Dock which DeWitt Clinton himself used — where is it?”
19th Century residents and passerby would inquire what disaster occurred, that Haberman’s and Nichols Chemical and all of Berlin and Blissville have disappeared and been forgotten? What has happened to the great factories like Van Iderstine’s, and the mills, and the hustle and bustle? Where have all the railroads gone, and can one paltry freight line actually be charged with servicing all of Newtown Creek?
Such pondering plagues me while I’m out walking around Newtown Creek, and I find that I need to sit down. If I’m in West Maspeth, it’s going to be the Clinton or Goodfellas Diner that I park my derriere.
This little oasis has hosted full groups from bus and walking tours of the Creek which I’ve conducted, and it acts a central meeting point for all sorts of Newtown Creek and Maspeth oriented functions in Queens, and has provided a much needed cup of coffee and clean rest room to a half-frozen historian on more than one occasion.
The diner is also sitting pretty much on that colonial era shoreline which Maspeth Creek once flowed past.
It would be meaningless to offer you shots of its interior as it has been featured more than once in the cinema. Witness below the trademark dolly shot of Martin Scorcese in Goodfellas… the window booth that DeNiro and Liotta are sitting in is the one with the “Go Giants” signage in the shot above.
The central section of the diner dates to 1935, with additional sections added in 1955 and 1965. The current owners acquired the “space age” diner in 1985. As mentioned, it’s a celebrity, having appeared in over forty films and dozens of television productions. Also, the pancakes are very good.
The Clinton or Goodfellas Diner is found at 5626 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth, NY 11378-2248 (718) 894-3475.
Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.