2005-01-14 / Community

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From A Needle To An Elephant

This was the motto on the storefront sign of Gedalia Rabinowitz’s store (old store in Seaside once known as Burchell’s General Store) on the boulevard between Beach 102 and Beach 103 Street on the south side. I believe the needle, but an elephant – eh!

An atlas of 1894 showed Burchell’s General Store marked on the south or beach side of the boulevard, and a photo taken from a block away showed a rather extensive store on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Richard Bush Burchell was a pioneer in Seaside who owned extensive property between the streets above mentioned, from boulevard to beach. A George F. Burchell purchased land from the Remsen founding family in Seaside during 1876. A Richard Burchell was with George F. in another real estate purchase during 1883. Later notes revealed that George F. was the son of Richard B. Burchell.

The Burchell property wound up in a partition suit after Richard Bush Burchell died in 1908, and old records show that he had a partner named Morris. Many well-known Seaside names were on the list of heirs of Richard Bush Burchell.

I did not find out the year when Rabinowitz succeeded Burchell at the general store, but Rabinowitz was a veteran of World War One. The store was lost in the 1902 Seaside Fire and was listed as Gottlieb’s Department Store. In 1905 Burchell’s store was again mentioned, and then the Heer Brothers hardware establishment. I learned long ago not go crazy over these things, as the information will show up at a later date. That was ten years ago and counting. I did, however, pick up a Rabinowitz Apparel Store in Arverne as a one-liner.

Anyway, the Rabinowitz Seaside store was called Seaside Bazaar and was located on the boulevard’s south side. In this year, Gedalia Rabinowitz and his two sons, David and Wille, opened their new Seaside Pavilion on the northeast corner of Beach 100 Street and the Boulevard. David and Wille were World War Two veterans and served in the Marine Corps and Air Force, respectively. Their father was described as a longtime Seaside businessman, former head of the Rockaway Beach Businessman’s Association and active in local veteran’s affairs.

Griepenkerl’s Market had been on the Seaside Pavilion site since 1906, and major structural alterations were necessary for the transformation into Seaside’s newest Pavilion.

Contained within the Pavilion was an up-to-date ice cream parlor and soda fountain with booth seating, a provision for hot and cold meals along with a seafood bar, and an outdoor seating area. Up to 150 patrons could be accommodated at one time, and four doorways gave ingress and egress.

A stationary and cosmetic section was also available, as well as gifts and toys for sale. The crowning section of the pavilion was a pharmacy to fill prescriptions, with well-stocked shelves with other counter items and sundry products.

Years later, the Seaside Hardware Store was located in the building, then came Western Auto Parts and at present Bryan’s Auto Repair Shop occupies the site, which is across the boulevard from St. Camillus Roman Catholic Church.

Can someone out there in Waveland fill in the rest of the Rabinowitz business history? Drop me a line at The Wave, and if possible, pictures. I thank you in advance.

Addenda: Remember I said that information would turn up eventually - well it just so happens that some did. In 1948 it was announced that the old Rabinowitz Burchell Bazaar, now a hardware store, was being run by nephews Joseph and Adolph.

And as a matter of note for thought, was it the nephews who opened the Seaside Hardware Store on Beach 100 Street – after Robert Moses demolished Seaside from Beach 102 to Beach 108 Streets – for Title 1 hi-rise construction – the death bell for seaside fun spots.

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