2005-02-18 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

First Seawalls And Jetties
by Emil Lucev


After World War One, conditions were such at the point of Rockaway – west of Beach 169 Street – that the fear of beach erosion prompted authorities to construct a seawall and jetties.

When Jamaica Bay chart #542 for 1922 was published, only half of the Fort Tilden section was drawn with a seawall and jetties. The chart for the following year showed that the job was complete to the physical end or point of the Rockaway Peninsula – and that end or point directly below the west end of Manhattan Beach, Coney Island – on the north side of the Rockaway Inlet.

Today’s Historical View shows one of the new jetties at the ocean end of Reid Avenue (Reed Avenue on the photo) shown on a postcard from 1926.

The view shows how different the times were in the roaring ‘20’s!

The jetty has been plank-topped so bathers could walk out on it, and they are shown diving off the end into the surf.

During the 23-skiddo days with the hoy! palloy!, no one cared or worried about who did what on the beach – and if you did something that caused injury to yourself that was your tough luck.

On the right, a raft can be seen used by swimmers as well as bathing lines strung between poles driven into the hard beach sand. Two lifeguards in a canoe are standing by, at the ready for a rescue – if need be.

The seawall, which in fact was a bulkhead installed parallel with the surf, is behind the bathers. This type of seawall is under the Rockaway Boardwalk (although you’d never know it or see it!) From the present Rockaway Park to Far Rockaway. Some recent washouts under the boards expose the buried seawall, and the Parks Department has broken through it in spots to move heavy equipment and vehicles onto the beach in Arverne. In the old days the walk, was on average, 8’ to 10’ above the beach.

Since the installation of the rock jetty at the point in 1933, much sand has been collected by it (from the rest of the peninsula) and acres of dry beach have grown to the south and east of the stone structure. As a result, most of the old bulkheads and jetties, built at the point, are buried under the accumulations of sand.

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