2003-04-12 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
John H. Hanley
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views of the Rockaways From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke John H. Hanley’s Hotel and Baths - 1893

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
John H. Hanley’s Hotel and Baths - 1893


Early in 1886, Senator James B. Oakley, owner of the New York and Woodhaven and Rockaway Branch Railroad (over the bay to the big hotel in Rockaway Park), bought a strip of beach – ocean to bay – from Louis Hammel and Garrett V. W. Eldert.

The lot of land stretched from west of 85 Street to east of Beach 84 Street. Oakley named the land Oakley Park, and built the Ocean View House, a 3-story hotel on the west side of Fairview Avenue (now Beach 84 street). Also built was a pier 125 feet long with a circle-shaped pier head over the surf. Numerous bathhouses were built on the west side of the pier.

An atlas of 1894 has the place known as the Oakley Park Hotel, and, as can be seen in today’s 1893 photo – the place is called John H. Hanley’s Hotel and Bathhouse Pavilion. Postcards dated 1912 show the structure as the Ocean View Hotel. A 1919 atlas placed Hanley’s Baths on the east side of Beach 84 Street. 1924 photos (not related) showed the Ocean View Hotel offering furnished rooms for a day, week, or season. The hotel was kept well over the years, and always looked freshly painted in old photographs.

Diagonally across the street was St. Rose R.C. Church on the east side of Beach 84 Street, and nearby on the west side were the Sachsonia, Normandie, and East End Cottages.

Senator Oakley lost all of his Rockaway holdings when his railroad failed, placing him in great debt. This caused him to fall ill and pass away heartbroken. His dream of Oakley Park faded away, just as the big hotel also became a memory. However, his railroad lives on. It was taken over by the Long Island Railroad and renamed the New York and Rockaway Beach Railroad. Later on it received the Long Island Railroad name until the line was shut down by a disastrous bay trestle fire(s) in the early 1950’s. A few years later the line was reopened as the New York City IND Rapid Transit – a train to the Rockaways. R.I.P. Senator Oakley.

The hotel burned to the ground in 1931, and apartment houses replaced it. If the hotel, bathhouses, and pier were suddenly to reappear, Shorefront Parkway and the boardwalk would be blocked on the west side of Beach 84 Street.

Many thanks to Denise Brunner of Belle Harbor for this picture from an attic.


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