2004-10-29 / Community

Historical Views of the Rockaways

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

The Golden Days Of The Rockaway Beach Peninsula

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

This 1931 aerial oblique photo of the Rockaway Beach Peninsula, published today in Historical Views – will answer the main question asked by the many new residents of the Rockaways, and that is, “what did the peninsula look like in its prime?”

The area of the photo covers from Beach 107 Street in Seaside, eastward towards Far Rockaway, showing the old areas of Seaside, Holland, Hammels, Arverne, Edgemere, Bayswater, Wavecrest and Far Rockaway.

At top right is the Atlantic/Long Beach Bar and the Atlantic Beach Bridge. The construction of the Rock Hook Jetty at Atlantic Beach was done in the very early 1930’s, and completed in 1933.

Much of what is shown in this vintage photograph survey is long gone – the victim of change, neglect, and improvement(s) made in the post World War Two years. After the war the habit of vacationing at the beach in the summer changed, due to air travel and bigger and better automobiles broadening the plans of people. As time passed the “steadys” to the beach waned.

I have endeavored to identify many structures, roads, walks, railroads, bridges, etc.

#1 – At bottom left is Bay Avenue, now Beach Channel Drive, leading to the Crossbay Bridge. Above the bridge is the Long Island Railroad trestle over the Jamaica Bay heading towards Broad Channel.

#2 – At bottom is the Long Island Railroad right of way and tracks, on the ground, heading towards Far Rockaway with stops along the way.

#3 - At bottom is the eastern portion of old Washington Avenue (now a part of the Rockaway Beach Boulevard) ending at Beach 102 Street.

#4 – At bottom is Rockaway Beach Boulevard, which in this photo, ran from Beach 110 Street and Washington Avenue, east to Beach 32 Street and Norton Basin.

#5 – At bottom is the old Seaside Bowery that once ran through the heart of the old Seaside amusement season, from Beach 106 Street to Beach 100 Street, and a ramp which connected the bowery and the boardwalk at Steeplechase Park.

#6 – At bottom is the boardwalk and beach to Far Rockaway.

#7 – Far Rockaway High School.

#8 – Edgemere Land Fill Area.

#9 – The site of Rockaway Airport.

#10 – Conch hole or Dubos Point.

#11 – The north side of Arverne.

#12 – Scheer’s Island or Terrapin Point.

#13 – Bungalows on the bay from Beach 84 Street to Beach 87 Street.

#14 – The Monte Carlo Nigh Club (site of present day Pier 92).

#15 – Seaside House Hotel on Seaside Avenue.

#16 – The 100 NYPD Precinct and Fire House, Beach 94 Street and the Boulevard.

#17 – The American Legion Hall on Beach 92 Street and the railroad.

#18 – Public School 42.

#19 – The old Beach 88 Street garbage incinerator.

#20 – Rockaway Beach Hospital, Beach 85 Street on the bay side.

#21 – Rockaway’s Playland and Steeplechase Park on Beach 98 Street.

#22 – The Jack and Jill Rug Slide at Beach 101 Street.

#23 – The Thunderbolt Roller Coaster at Beach 102 Street and the Seaside Bowery.

#24 – The famous Nunley Carousel at Beach 103 Street and the Seaside Bowery.

#25 – The Seaside Autodrome, a 1400’ car ride amusement, at Beach 104 Street and the Seaside Bowery.

#26 – Old Irishtown is the lower third of this picture.

#27 – Marsell’s Bungalow Colony at Beach 98 Street and Bay Road.

#28 – Long Beach.

#29 – Atlantic Beach.

#30 – Brant Point Avenue, Arverne.

Can you find the following:

* Crossbay Bridge

* The LIRR trestle

* The Far Rockaway Gas House

* Amstel Boulevard

* Edgemere Avenue

* Holland Avenue

* P.S. 44 (Beach 94 Street)

* The Irish Circle

* The giant Arverne Hotel (Beach 69 Street)

* The giant Edgemere Hotel (Beach 35 Street)

* Bayswater

* The Telephone Building (Beach 80 Street)

As you will notice, there are many bungalows visible in the photo, and it would be a great accomplishment to count them all. At present there only a handful still around, with some used only for the summers and many converted into year-round occupancy. Before bungalows came there were many tents along the oceanfront. At one place in Seaside there were more than 400 tents for rent in the summer. Did you, by chance, notice the straight lines of the entire bay front from Rockaway Beach to Far Rockaway? Take a look with a magnifying glass, and you will see a good rot free bulkhead. Go down to the bay front and compare! In case you are asking what happened to the Rockaways, go to your local bookstore and order a copy of a book called “The Power Broker” by Robert Moses. Read it carefully and you will know…the rest is history.

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