2004-06-11 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Roche’s Private Beach –

Far Rockaway – Summer of 1927

While the finishing touches are being applied to the new Atlantic Beach Bridge, from Far Rockaway to Long Beach, patrons of Roche’s private bathing beach on the Far Rockaway side of East Rockaway Inlet, enjoy the day in 1927.

The Roche family operated this private beach from the 1880’s to 1931 when the last member, Edward Roche, passed away without an heir. The property then passed to the city. The city then rejoiced, because Edward Roche refused to let a boardwalk to be built over his property while he was alive and kicking. Roche was a firm believer in private property and the Riparian rights of beachfront owners.

Roche’s Beach stretched from Beach 17 Street to Beach 19 Street, on the shore of East Rockaway Inlet to Reynold’s Channel at Far Rockaway. The place was well attended by the same persons year after year, and they enjoyed the games, instruction for swimming, restaurants, and concessions where umbrellas could be rented and ice cream and other refreshments could be purchased. Roche’s had a reputation for being a first class establishment. To the east was Ostend Beach and Simmis/Coronado Beach. The Colony Club was an exclusive part of Roche’s part of the Far Rockaway beachfront.

The city leased out Roche’s beach as well as Ostend beach, but neither progressed as well as they did under private management. The new rules and regulations imposed by the new owner had a negative effect.

In 1963, the property was razed for the building of O’Donohue Park, and a concrete promenade was laid down by the Parks Department.

At present the rest of Roche’s property contains a condo, a hi-rise, a home, and the Hartman "Y" complex. The latter was built on land which once held four large cottages built by Roche in 1912. These were later to become part of the HILI Institute of Long Island. The four buildings were torn down in the late 1970’s, for the Hartman construction.

Check out the bathing attire of the late 1920’s. What a difference almost 80 years makes – ay!

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