2005-03-25 / Community

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Western-Union Cable Station
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

In 1915, the Western-Union Cable Company built a cable station at 260 Beach 84 Street in the Hammels section of the Rockaways. The brick building, covered with ivy, was near the Long Island Railroad tracks. The green ivy leaves contrasted the yellow bricks of the cable building.

When completed, undersea cables from the European continent to America were brought ashore, and then underground to the Beach 84 Street cable building. Previously, the cables landed at Coney Island, but the impending conversion of Jamaica Bay to a seaport would impede dredging Rockaway Inlet deep enough for ocean vessels to enter and exit Jamaica Bay.

By 1927, five Atlantic cables came ashore to the Western-Union Rockaway Beach cable station from Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. They cost $30 million for construction.

Today’s Historical Views takes us back to September 2, 1924 – when the world’s largest cable from Horta, in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, was landed and hauled ashore – and up a trench to the cable station near the railroad tracks. This cable was a direct line to Rome, Italy.

In the photo, the gentleman with pipe in his mouth and holding the binoculars is Mr. Berner – the cable engineer from Telegraph Construction and Maintenance, Inc. He was in charge of this project. The Ocean View Hotel is behind the Western-Union truck. The cable is clearly visible on the bed of the truck. (No one seems to be concerned if that rope suddenly snapped!)

Several cables came ashore in Far Rockaway as well, but these belonged to the Commercial Cable Company, a rival of Western-Union

Short-wave radio and satellite communications in modern times have placed ocean cables on the back burner with a low flame.

The abandoned cable building was used for community service offices after the Hammels Houses Project was built, and was demolished several years later. A small cul de sac was constructed in the area which is in the rear of the Hammels Project.

No information is available as to the present status of all Atlantic cables in the United States. Does anyone out there know? Let us know and thank you.

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