of the Rockaways
Green Acres of Greenbacks! – A Stark Reality For Far Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Back in 1957, less than stellar planning began the downfall of a thriving transportation hub covering the transport compass box, and a prospering and visible shopping center – with banks, realty offices, legal offices, loan offices, restaurants and delicatessens, appliance stores, shoe stores, auto showrooms, two newspapers, hotels, shops with all sorts of goods and services, a tuxedo rental place, linoleum/ rug/wood and other floor covering shops, baby and children shops, jewelers and watch repair, Grant and Woolworth stores, three movie houses, a diner, etc.,
Mott and Central Avenues were the axle and spokes of the great wheel of thriving commerce spread out from this sacred point in Far Rockaway, which contained a train/bus/taxi and limousine depot. The Long Island Railroad had a station here where trains came in and departed to the north, east and west from/to Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and down the peninsula to Rockaway Park. Several bus lines (Green, Nassau, Jamaica) were located in the bus terminal beside the train station, and also went to all of the compass.
So all this was broken up and destroyed for a shopping center in 1957. The LIRR moved north to Nameoke Street and the buses were thrown out into street corner terminals to snarl traffic at times. The not-so-rapid transit came to town and a subway station was built on the south side of Mott Avenue – opposite the shopping center.
It was not long before the old adage came into play, “you never know how good you had it, until you don’t have it anymore!”
A new bus terminal and parking area were built nearby, but were soon desecrated by the disrespectful in the area.
The makeover of Far Rockaway seems to be eternal, and is now nearing the half-century mark, but just imagine: if the LIRR stayed where it was and the Mott Avenue overpass was used for the safe transfer to the Long Island Railroad station.
This 1985 aerial composite photo, taken by yours truly, shows that there was plenty of vacant space for Green Acres type of shopping center. The area was and still is being milked to death. In order to do proper and cohesive planning, developers must get up in the air for a look, and use aerial photography to help in the process.
The intersection of Central and New Haven Avenues is at right hand corner, and the camera is pointing northwest towards JFK Airport. At top center is the LILCO/LIPA Plant in Bayswater. Cornaga Avenue is at right center.