2003-10-03 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Volunteer Firemen
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Volunteer Firemen’s Parade – Rockaway, 1916


In 1816, the New York State Volunteer Firemen’s Association held their convention in the Rockaways. Gala events and contests ran for days, and a grand parade exhibited all the "vollies" whom attended.

Today’s Historical View is of that 1916 parade on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

The camera is perched in a window of William Rogers’ hardware store (The Wave building today). In this photo The Wave building is below the sign, which denotes printing. A candy store and the post office is next store (laugh).

The entire boulevard trolley line had just completed installation of the new grooved girder rails, complete with Belgian block paving.

Beach 85 Street (Thomas Avenue) is at left center and Beach 87 Street is at the top of the photo.

Trolley poles and overhead wires can be clearly seen, and along with utility poles and wires form a perfect web for Spiderman!

And very, very noticeable along the boulevard are stores of every kind and description.

William Emer had the distinction (in 1916) of being the only and oldest jeweler from the Point to Far Rockaway.

Directly below the camera is the governor’s military band, Tommy Tucker Club, Brooklyn. Marching behind the band is Rockaway’s own Remsen Engine Company, pulling on an old hand-drawn steam engine.

Rockaway’s Volunteer Fireman’s Association had its headquarters on Beach 86 Street in the old firehouse of Atlantic Engine #1. The building was the Fireman’s Hall (in 1916). Volunteer firefighters served the Rockaways from 1886 until 1905, when city-paid fireman were assigned here. The vollies came back for a short time during the manpower shortage during World War One.

Other events of 1916 are as follows:

• E. Hoffman and G. Jennings built a plane on Beach 87 Street. The wingspan was 30 feet, the length was 38 feet, and the engine was 50 horsepower (there was no follow-up).

• Residents wanted a paved boulevard.

• The Rockaway Park Yacht Club was built on the bay at Beach 116 Street.

• Studebaker cars sold for $845 to $2500.

• Lots at Edgemere sold for $200.

• The Rockaway City bid was full steam ahead!

• The government cut back on help to build Jamaica Bay port. Claimed that the city was not doing its part, and has lagged from the start, and maybe the city will wake up! Corporation counsel denies lagging. Blames property owners litigation on riparian rights.

• Real estate interests on Long Island want a state appropriation to build a canal from Jamaica Bay to Woodmere Bay, and then thru Great South Bay to Shinnecock, Long Island (an Indian channel).

• Neponsit opposes a fort at the Point.

• Children under 12 not admitted to theatres.

• Rockaway City bill dies. Insurgency sweeps peninsula.

• Explosion at Black Tom Island in Jersey City breaks windows here.

• War with Mexico feared.

• Want a militia to patrol the beach in case of war(s).

• City pollutes the bay. Ruins oyster beds. Owners sue. Get nowhere.

• Fire Department horses phased out for motorized equipment.

• Rockaway Point finally gets a post office. Mail is brought in by boat daily; is a branch of the Brooklyn post office.


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