The Original Curley's Hotel At Beach 116 Street And The Boardwalk - Where The Ocean Grande Now Stands
From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
John J. Curley came to the Rockaways in the mid 1870s and built his first Curley's Atlas Hotel on Henry Street (Beach 102 Street) and the beachfront. In 1889 while the Big Hotel at Rockaway Park was being torn down, J.J. Curley bought a section with another Rockaway hotel person, which stood on the beachfront from Beach 110 Street to Beach 116 Street for nine years (having never opened) and used his half of the purchase (the lumber) to build a larger Atlas Hotel in the new Rockaway Park. Curley opened the New Atlas in 1890 near the oceanfront on the west side of Beach 116 Street, which at the time was known as Fifth Avenue.
The new building was "L" shaped with bathhouses behind, and a long walk composed of wooden planks led to the surf, from the 20 foot wide boardwalk in front of the hotel. The walk was 18 inches high.
Over the eight decades of Curley's popular hostelry and baths, the place was enlarged and improved many times. The Big Hotel was to the left on the east side of Beach 116 Street, which originally was the grand avenue of the Big Hotel from Beach to the bay wharf.
The old Curley's in Seaside was sold to the Harper family, who after the great Seaside Fire of 1892 sold it to the Schilling family.
The New Atlas in Rockaway Park was destroyed by fire in 1968 by kids playing with matches and was not rebuilt, leaving an empty lot until recently. A new oceanfront condominium has been built on the site, along the boards, between Beach 116 Street and Beach 117 Street. It is a wonderful addition to the area at Rockaway Park's main shopping street.