2004-04-30 / Columnists

Historical Views

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
of the Rockaways
Sanford R. Murray

by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
of the Rockaways
Sanford R. Murray’s Grand Ocean Pavilion


and Dancehall, Seaside, 1908

Sanford R. Murray opened his Seaside Pavilion in 1888, at the Beach End of Seaside Avenue (now Beach 103 Street). This first endeavor by Murray was lost in the great Seaside fire of 1892, when outside of a few structures, the whole section – from Beach 102 to Beach 106 Street – was reduced to ashes!

Like the fabled Phoenix, Seaside anew was raised on its own ashes, and better than ever.

Murray rebuilt and opened for the 1893 season, and his Pavilion had a larger hotel, a giant drinking bar for gentlemen, a restaurant to rival the best, and a dance hall two-thirds the size of a football field.

A wraparound porch on three sides contained tables and chairs for those who wished to dine, or just to sit down for a little liquid libation or a plain soda or lemonade. Small stands for refreshment were on the beach areas around the Grand Ocean Pavilion. Chairs and umbrellas were available for those who wished to sit on the beach and relax for a while.

Cast iron colonnades were added to the frontage of Murray’s along the Ocean Avenue midway through the Seaside amusement area.

The Grand Ocean Pavilion once again was lost to the ravages of fire in 1923. This time, the property was taken over by the Wainright and Smith group at Seaside, and they built smaller concessions there.

In the photo today, Beach 103 Street runs from the bottom left to center right.

The Seaside midway (Ocean Avenue) runs from the cast iron decorative frontage, to the left and behind the Pavilion. A small stand for hot dogs and lemonade is at right center. Hoster’s Columbus, Ohio beer was on draught at Murray’s at this time and was later replaced by Anheuser Busch beer.

The beach is crowded with relaxing visitors, and no bathing suits are visible. It might have been sunny on this Fourth of July in 1908, but not a good day for bathing.

•Answer to last week’s Historical Views question:

First known as the Pippin Coaster, the name was changed later to the Thunderbolt.

The fantastic coaster was torn down in 1938 for Shorefront Parkway.


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