of the Rockaways
Oldest Known Photograph Of The Seaside Beach – 1887
Appearing in Historical Views today is the oldest known picture of the beach area of the Seaside section of Rockaway Beach. The image was shot from the ocean pier on Beach 105 Street, and shows the Atlantic Ocean Shore between Beach 102 Street and Beach 103 Street on the left. The year is 1887.
Going left to right, we have Sanford Murray’s Grand Ocean Pavilion at the southwest corner of Beach 103 Street and Ocean Avenue – the Bowery of the Seaside amusement area. On the southeast corner is the Wainright and Smith Hotel, and their bath house on the beach below the hotel. In between are the small amusements and concessions of all kinds.
Curley’s Atlas Hotel is second from the left on the northeast corner of Beach 102 Street and Ocean Avenue, and to its right is the Atlantic Hotel and Beachmere Cottage near Beach 101 Street. Behind the bathhouse of Wainright and Smith on the north side of Ocean Avenue is Edgar Morrison’s Great Republic Hotel and Pavilion (peaked and flat roof) and in going up Beach 103 Street or Seaside Avenue we find the Gem of The Sea Hotel, The Southside House, Meissner’s Central Hotel and Carousel, Healy’s Hotel and The Curtis Hotel.
With the exception of the two small hotels shown on the extreme right, all that is visible was reduced to ashes, as was the entire Seaside area from 102 Street to Beach 106 Street, Ocean to Bay, with the railroad station still standing, but burned – due to its use by trains bringing in fire departments from near and far. The fire was beyond control at this point, so a concentrated effort was made to save the station.
Like the legendary Phoenix, Seaside rose from its own ashes to become bigger and better than ever. Rebuilding started before the ashes had cooled.
For the 1888 season, two early rollercasters, called ‘switchbacks,’ were built in Seaside. The first at Beach 105 Street near the boulevard, which was moved to the beachfront thereat later, and the second on the beach near Beach 102 Street (where the canvas covered amusements are on the right.) Both were lost in the fire of 1892, but were rebuilt for the following season too.