2005-02-25 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

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

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

1896 Map Of Jamaica Bay Area

This map was drawn to show a proposed monorail line from the area of Euclid and Atlantic Avenues in southeast Brooklyn, to the ocean shore at Far Rockaway, with Beach 19 Street and Seagirt Boulevard as the terminus directly at the shore of the bay of Far Rockaway and Far Rockaway’s outer beach (old Hog Island).

Fortunately, and with a giant “eureka” let out by yours truly, there were small black squares on the marsh areas upon which Goose Creek, the Raunt and Broad Channel bay colonies were built.

There were a grand total of 13 buildings at Shad Creek in 1901.

Among the people who occupied lots were James S. Williamson, Theodore Sperling, Otto J. Sporck, Charles Hasloecher, Lane, Alfred J. Schoenberg and Frank Hammer, Taylor, E.G. O’Neil, Henry L. Wenk, Edward Essex, Mary Seiler, Charles Wagner and William Wagner.

In the 1896 map, there were six buildings at Goose Creek, 13 at the Raunt and 16 on Broad Channel. Of these, four were in the station’s immediate area, with dozens scattered about Goose Pond Marsh. Mr. Williamson, I assume, live at one of the hotels and later (after this map was made) moved into his own private building with an office.

When you compare this map to the ones that appeared with chapter three of Broad Channel 101, it is easy to see that these pioneers were right on the right of way fill for the trolley. There is no wooden walk shown on this map going over to Shad Creek from the station. Now it is conceivable that the Cooperative Society of New Jersey built the wooden walk for them, and stating that a solid substance can replace the walk if need be. In our last session, one map showed the walk with four buildings at the west end opposite Shad Creek. The walk and the buildings had to be built sometime after this map was made, and appears to have been about 1901-02 at this time.

Mr. Twombley and Eldert held a Cooperative Society lease for Goose Pond Marsh landfill (today’s Broad Channel) and they in turn leased a trolley line right of way to the Jamaica Bay Trolley and Turnpike Company. I firmly believe that the unholy Twombley and Eldert had plans to develop a small hamlet on their leased landfill in the center of Jamaica Bay. Nothing has been uncovered on this line of thought as of yet. Maybe a street was planned to replace the walk at a later date. Another thought is that these two might have built the four buildings at the west end of the three- foot wide walk (which later became Sixth Road).

It is interesting to note that the depth of Broad Channel went from 6 ½ feet to 23 feet between Grassy Bay and Beach Channel. The Raunt Channel went from 2 ½ feet to 15 feet between Grassy Bay and Little Egg Marsh. Grass Hassock Creek, to the east of Broad Channel went from 9 feet to 10 feet to 15 feet to ¾ to 8 ¾ between the head of the bay and Silverhole. Beach Channel went from 7 feet to 3-4-8-7-9-13-11-½-18-10 and the 8 feet from the head of the bay to Brant Point in Northwest Arverne. In Grassy Bay the deepest water was west of the present North Channel Bridge, at 10 feet with the lowest at a point west of Hawtree Creek given at ¼ feet. And the head of the bay went from ¾ to 10 feet between the present Rockaway Turnpike area and Beach Channel. Compare these depths of 1896 to the present day depths, then compound the greater depth and greater volume of water moving with tidal changes and you have the great wash-away of Jamaica Bay’s marsh islands, and the sediments upon which they grew to great proportions. Is a great sand flat the future of our beloved bay? Before we wrap it up today, I almost forgot to bring to your attention a new mystery found on this map of 1986. I took the liberty of filling in the round circles indicating stations. The artist that drew that map filled in the building or structure squares. But if you look at the northwest end of the Raunt Marsh – there is a big rectangle that is not filled in. And at the northeast end of Big Egg Marsh, at the west side of Shad Creek flats, there is a large square that is not filled in as well. What large pavilions do these blanks represent? Marsh does not grow in these shapes. Did the artist go to lunch and forget to finish the job? These notations are on the trolley right of way too. Stay tuned.

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