2007-03-02 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Rockaway Beach American Steam Laundry- 1907
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

Recorded as the largest industrial plant in Rockaway Beach, with 76 employees, the American Steam Laundry was busiest during the ten-week summer season here on the peninsula.

The factory turned out 150,000 pieces of hotel work per week, or 1.5 million pieces a season. A record 40,000 shirts per season, as well as a quarter million cuffs and collars were turned out during the ten weeks….and bragged about!

The plant had eight washing machines with a capacity of 40,000 pieces per day; four modern extractors or wringers; two large mangles; and a hurricane drying system which operated with temperatures of 260-280 degrees. A ton and a half of coal was used daily to supply heat for hot water, as well as steam pressure for operating machinery and prime movers. Electric motors came years later. Five thousand pounds of starch and an equal amount of soaps were used per season, but an accurate water usage figure was not given; just thousands of gallons. Anything from fine silks to a circus tent could be handled with care. The building was located on the southwest corner of Beach 84 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. In the early 1930s the Chase Manhattan Bank was built directly on the corner (the wagon side in the photo). Both were demolished for Title I high-rise buildings in the early 1960s.

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