2007-05-18 / Columnists

It's My Turn

The Tragedy Of Rockaway
By Clint Hanover

By Clint Hanover

Clint Hanover lived in Rockaway in his youth and often writes about his former home.

"Far Rockaway/Rockaway Park train!" How many years has it been since we last heard that? Perhaps too many . That service was not good, and it ended on October 2, 1955, when I was only nineteen years of age.

A better service, specifically "Far Rockaway via Jamaica Bay" ended on Monday, May 8, 1950, when a train coming up from Far Rockaway noticed a fire in the underside innards of the Jamaica Bay Trestle. Built in 1882, the trestle was considered a marvel of engineering for its time, because it sent the trains of the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Beach Railroad 5.4 miles out to sea!

Electrified in 1905 for Brooklyn service, this was the first electric Class A railway in the world in its time.

On June 20, 1956, I rode the first train over the Jamaica Bay Crossing of the new IND subway/elevated train that replaced the LIRR service.

I knew that they had installed a lesser service, and Rockaway had already been doomed by the loss of the aforementioned train or trains, as the Rockaway Park via Jamaica Bay service was gone as well. Of course, they would do that to Rockaway.

A 30 to 40-minute ride to midtown New York from Far Rockaway became an unacceptable 70 to 90 minute ride. The Rockaway population might as well have suddenly been moved as far away as Philadelphia, for all the commutability that gave them!

Until these LIRR trains are restored, ROCKAWAY WILL NEVER RECOVER!

In 1995, Clare Shulman, Queens Borough President, walked the 3.7-mile missing rail link through Forest Park that emerges at Brooklyn Manor, on behalf of the proposed Apple Corridor Plan, which would put this missing service back, and furthermore provide a one-seat 30-minute ride to midtown from Kennedy airport. This trip now requires a change of trains and 60 unacceptable minutes if travel.

But wait: it only gets worse.

In place of the 30 luxury hotels in Rockaway in 1920, in 2007 there are 20 public housing units. The Rockaway community has been unspeakably impacted by this false move from hotels to instant slums. What is that about, in a resort area?

City planning? I doubt that

Someone should have been pilloried for what has been done to Rockaway, a paradise despoiled by people called city planners and mayors. Chief among them was Robert Moses, who was the city's chief planner from 1925 forward, and the unacceptable Republican Mayor John Vliet Lindsay.

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