The Common Council of Long Island City in 1873 adopted the Coat of Arms as "emblematical of the varied interest represented by Long Island City." It was designed by George H. Williams, of Ravenswood. The overall composition was inspired by New York City's Coat of Arms.
Long Island City, was created from the merger, in 1870, between the Village of Astoria, and the hamlets of Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills, Steinway, Bowery Bay and Middleton in Newtown Township, was a separate city until 1898. Its unique identity, from the rest of New York and Queens, remains alive today.
The shield is rich in historic allusion. Native-American, Dutch, and English symbols represent the strands of our past. The canoe, our key position in the network of transit byways that precedes European settlement. The tomahawk, crafted by Henrick Harmenson of Bowery Bay over 300 years ago, is the first manufactured item in our community. Both the windmill, symbolizing the innumerable wind and tidal mills that dotted our landscape, and the anchor, representing ship building, allude to the industries that launched our region to greatness.
Beehives are the traditional symbols of hard work and industry.
The selection of the figures flanking the shield, Minerva (Greek: Athena) and Neptune (Greek: Poseidon), was inspired.
Minerva, the Roman goddess of crafts and trade guilds, is perfect for our community. In her hand, a pole topped by a Phrygian Cap, was given to slaves as a symbol of their freedom. It is emblematic of the grassroots overthrow of the old political order by the creation of Long Island City. Like Minerva, it was born fully grown.
She is associated with spinning (silk weaving was important is in our community's early history).
She also invented musical instruments. Steinway & Sons essentially invented the modern piano at their Long Island City factory. They were joined in our community by Sohmer Pianos. The Gemunder Family of Astoria made some of the finest stringed instruments crafted in United States.
Bearded Neptune holds the symbol of his power, the trident (the three pointed spear) used to shatter stone. It was a powerful emblem of the city's efforts in blasting the rocks of the Hell Gate. Having created the horse of "brazen hoofs and golden manes," he was the patron of horse races. Much early commerce in Hunters Point, at both the ferries and the saloons, depended upon the (at the time) highly significant horseracing industry of Queens County.
There is a wonderful myth that Minerva (as Athena) and Neptune (as Poseidon) had a contest for the protection of Athens. Minerva produced the olive, and Neptune the horse. The gods decided that the olive was of greater benefit to mankind, and named the city Athens after her. In Long Island City, where highly profitable truck farms and gardens supplied Manhattan's voracious appetite, agriculture remained more important than "wagering on the ponies."
The bald eagle is from the Village of Astoria Coat of Arms.
On the far sides, the pristine shores of the East River/Newtown Creek and the picturesque retreat of Astoria Village fall into the background with the rise of industry and the railroads.