Historical Views of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
During my research concerning gambling casinos in the Rockaways, the word casino popped in and out of the old newspaper articles associated with police raids on certain very popular hotels. One such place in Far Rockaway, known as the Ostend Beach Casino was reported to the police by the well meaning "Temperance league" of the Rockaways. This group told the police that drinking, as well as gambling, was being conducted at the Ostend.
A court judge ordered the police to conduct an investigation and the place was raided after the so-called casino was closed for the night. The police testified in court that no gambling was observed, and brought suspected gambling paraphernalia, including a roulette wheel, tables, and chairs, to court as evidence. In court it was decided that the tables were for dinner patrons to eat and drink, the roulette wheel was a kid's game as a marble was found with it, and the police said they saw no gambling taking place. The case was subsequently dismissed.
The story ended there, and all men connected with the case, including policemen and the court officials, celebrated at the Ostend that night. The ladies went home frustrated, as back then, in the early 1900's, it was a man's world! George Ripley would have loved this story for "Believe it or Not!"
Today's view is a double postcard of the Ostend Casino located at the beach end of Beach 17 Street, below the present Seagirt Boulevard (then called South Street). The casino, baths, and hotel were part of the Ostend Beach complex opened in 1908 to the east of the famous Roche's Beach at Far Rockaway. The hotel (at left) was the old Kuloff Hotel and Casino built by William Caffrey in 1901, and it was Caffrey who owned about all of the beachfront in Far Rockaway, including both "Hog Island" outer beaches.
After being wiped out twice, in 1893 and 1903, Caffrey sold out to David Roche, and the Ostend Syndicate headed by the Bannister Land Company of Far Rockaway. Both beachfront properties were taken over by the city in the 1930's, Roche dying intestate and Ostend for back taxes. The city tried to manage both but failed.
The post card was victim to a staple gun and mishandling, but still commanded a good price at the time, as it is rare.
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About The Rockaways Please Send It To: HISTORICAL ROCKAWAY
C/O THE WAVE P.O. BOX 930097
ROCKAWAY BEACH, N.Y. 11693