2006-07-21 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Seaside's Tent City- Camp Chaffee Or Tentville-Rockaway Beach, New York
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 1903, Frank Chaffee, a sail and tent maker with a store on the boulevard and Beach 88 Street, opened Rockaway Beach's largest tent city, between Beach 106 Street and Beach 109 Street, boulevard to the oceanfront.

The renting of tents here became so popular that it wasn't long before all the space that was available had a tent on it. The total reached 385-plus tents rented for the season, and gas for heating and cooking, running water, and community showers and bathrooms available for patrons.

The hotel shown in this 1907 view was also the community hall and entertainment site, and a one-story structure to the right.

A bowling alley is blocked from view by tents. After the Tent City gave way to bungalow building in 1913, the Fitzgerald Brothers took over the building on what became Beach 108 Street.

Our camera is facing northwest from the surf line at about Beach 107 Street. The old gashouse holder tank is visible on the right side of the old hotel. The building on the left with the two cupolas (behind the tents) is a factor that made Dr. Brown's Compound Creosote Pills.

After the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1907 became law, this, and many other patent medicines, involuntarily disappeared off store and drugstore shelves.

No ifs, ands, or buts!

The pill place was on the border of Seaside and Rockaway Park, Beach 109 Street ocean to bay, south of the boulevard.

When it was announced that Tent City would close, rumor had it that a big amusement park like Luna Park and Dreamland would be built to rival the Coney Island amusements. The rumor died when the first bungalow was put up by John J. Eagan of Rockaway Beach.

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