Historical Views of the Rockaways
More On The History Of Broad Channel
From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
After the first two installments of the history of Broad Channel, which appeared in Historical Views in February of 1997, I promised more in depth research – and now I bring it out as promised for all to enjoy! I used up quite a few shovels digging out the information relayed to you in this installment of Historical Views. I have tried to be as accurate as possible, so at times you might get bored of facts and figures and educated guesstimates. But, that is what history is all about…if it’s done right! And like Detective Sergeant Joe Friday said, “Just the facts.”
In our last two Historical Views on Broad Channel it was stated that Garrett V.W. Eldert of Rockaway Beach leased Goose Pond Marsh (today’s Broad Channel) in the year 1881 from the town of Jamaica for 10 years.
The Eldert lease was issued a short time after the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad had opened its line over Jamaica Bay, which crossed this particular marsh section. The railroad’s right of way crossing Jamaica Bay was 150 feet wide. A two-track trestle on wood pilings was constructed on this right of way and each group of pile supports, called a bent, was assigned a number for identification and location by the railroad. There were 1719 bents from Howard Beach to Rockaway Beach, and the first Broad Channel Station was built between bents 135 and 450. The bent numbers ran south to north with number one at Rockaway Beach.
Eldert had realized the potential of Goose Pond Marsh as a destination for the many fisherman practicing their sport in Jamaica Bay and in 1881 he issued a 10-year lease to Frederick A. Parsons, for the northeast corner of Goose Pond Marsh beside the railroad trestle. Parson’s lease stipulated that he build a first class hotel and fishing station on his piece of marsh, with a wooden walkway to the trestle station.
In the following year (1882), the railroad leased the southeast side of the trestle on Goose Pond Marsh to Charles A. Denton, with the same type of deal as stipulated in the Eldert lease to Parsons. But Denton was to build a railroad station, platform, waiting room, and supply a ticket agent for the station (at his expense) as well as having to build a first class hotel and fishing station. The lease issued by the railroad ran for five years.
Also in 1882, Eldert leased the southwest corner of Goose Pond Marsh to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Carpenter. The Carpenters built a 15 room hotel with a bar, pool table, piano and a float with seven boats for rent. Their establishment was connected to the station by wooden walkways.
Several years later, Garrett V.W. Eldert rented the entire west side of the trestle from the railroad (421’ x 50’) and constructed a platform for the entire length. Also built was a new hotel and fishing station to accommodate the ever increasing number of fishermen coming to Broad Channel. It is not known at this time if Eldert constructed a wooden walk (Sixth Road) westward toward Shad Creek, or if he constructed any buildings along this walk. A crude map of Broad Channel drawn in 1886 showed only four main structures beside the trestle section crossing Goose Pond Marsh. At the northwest corner was Eldert’s Hotel and Fishing Station, at the northeast corner was Parson’s Hotel and Fishing Station, at the southwest corner was Carpenter’s Hotel and Fishing Station and at the southeast corner was the Denton Hotel and Fishing Station and the Broad Channel Station. The New York Times published a one-liner in 1886 stating that a boat race was held at Miller’s Fishing Station in Broad Channel. It is possible that any one of the four entrepreneurs on the Channel did rent out their facilities for others to run, simply for profit. Nothing was found in the record about Mr. Miller or any of the names that I have come across during my research. Many leases were not recorded in the days of old, or they are buried somewhere in old courthouse files, or have been lost to flood or fire, or simply thrown away as garbage.
Garry Eldert, as he was commonly known, died in 1890, just before his leases were about to expire. The record shows that in 1892, Parson’s lease from Eldert was re-leased to William J. Dorman for ten years – by the town of Jamaica. Dorman operated the old Parson’s Place as the Atlantic Hotel and Fishing Station. It is not known if Eldert’s family continued the lease from the railroad for the west side of the trestle and the facilities built there by Eldert. Nothing was found in the record. The Carpenters carried on at their place near Shad Creek Flats and nothing in the record tells of how they accomplished this. (An 1899 Wave ad had the complex for rent with 24 boats for hire.) The station area passed from Denton to the Fuller and Buhl brothers to Foetler to Edward Schleuter, whom many still remember in Broad Channel today.
The premier event of 1892 was the leasing of the west side of Goose Pond Marsh to a William B. Dooley, who was a town of Jamaica trustee from the common lands in Jamaica Bay. With an ironclad lease, Dooley was the supreme being at Shad Creek, Barnes Creek and Goose Pond Marsh. He could build, allow building, lease and do so as he desired. Was it he who built the walk with buildings alongside Shad Creek, and the building at Shad Creek?
To be continued in next week’s Wave.
Twice a year, in May and Nov-ember of each year, an international antique postcard bourse (show) is held in Manhattan. Dealers come from all areas of the states, and from all over the world. No matter what your favorite subject or category…there are postcards to cover it! Rockaway history is my bag and my tag whenever I do attend….and I do all the time!
In November of 2002, nationwide dealers came from VT, NJ, MD, NY MA, OH, MI, CT, ME, FL, WA, and NYC, plus Las Vegas, NV!
World dealers came from Herenth-out in Belgium; Herzilla in Israel; York in England; Budapest in Hungary; Gentilly and Frejus in France; and Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
Dealers were set up by the Metro-politan Postcard Club in the New Yorker Hotel on 34 Street in Manhat-tan. For the event, the Grand Ball-room, The Crystal Ballroom, and the large foyer between the two, were filled with 50 dealers in antique postcards. Visitors to the show kept the hotel’s Eighth Avenue entrance revolving doors spinning during the Vet-eran’s Day weekend.
The club was founded in 1946 by a handful of people and has grown and prospered since. Meetings are held monthly in the hotel and a mini-show is held in March to help shed the winter blahs! Club auctions and album competitions are also held during the year. Once an album of postcards about the Ole! Night Party won a prize. See, I told you there were cards for all subjects!
Today’s Historical Views presents photos of the international bourse of November 2002, and one postcard I found in the patriotic category. The card is white with a light blue border, and Old Glory is in the great red/white /blue colors with green leaf florals at the gold flagpole crossing God Bless America!
As all Wave newspaper readers already know, the history of the Rock-aways and Broad Channel has been well documented through the picture postcard, since they were first issued in the 1890’s. Artists’ drawings were gravured at first, followed by the black & white halftone printed photos, followed by color gravure photos, and then sepia-tone real photos; black & white real photos; and real color photos.
Yours truly got married, so to speak, to postcards at a small flea market style table in the second floor hallway of King’s Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn.
It was run by a fellow from Coney Island, Alex Stein, who happened to be a collector of Coney Island memorabilia! And a rabid one at that!
During a conversation I mentioned that I was into bottle collecting, especially Rock-away Beach and Far Rockaway. Alex then said that he wished he had a Coney Island bottle. I said that I had one… And at that…he grabbed my hand and filled it with Rockaway postcards, stating that if I brought him the Coney Island bottle, he would give me all he had of Rockaway postals.
I did, he did, and a friend at work told me about the metropolitan Post-card Club, which I joined as soon as possible.
My research on the old Rockaway bottles was well underway at the time, but the postcards showed me, and followers of my Historical Views column in The Wave, what old-timers talked about, but had no pictures of! The rest is history!