2007-07-13 / Columnists

Historical Views

of the Rockaways Somerville, Arverne, Rockaway Beach….1913

of the Rockaways
Somerville, Arverne, Rockaway Beach….1913

Photo Courtesy Of The Russell FamilyPhoto Courtesy Of The Russell Family At a few corners along Amstel Boulevard (Beach Channel Drive) on the south border of the new Somerville development in north Arverne, realty offices were set up to service prospective buyers of building lots.

Today's View shows one such sales building on the northeast corner of Amstel Boulevard and Remington Avenue (Beach 69 Street). This photo was taken in 1913, and by this time many lots has been sold and built upon.

Each block had concrete or brick monuments with planters on top, and street and boulevard names at eye level on the north side of Amstel Boulevard. Only one such column of brick is known to still exist, but this one has "SRCO), meaning Somerville Realty Company, on one side.

The large plot between Beach 69 and Beach 68 Streets remained as a vacant lot for a century (1907-2007) and has recently been built upon by a developer. It was hoped at one time that a Catholic mission would be located on the property, but the area became predominantly Jewish. Local kids played baseball, softball and football on the plot for years.

The original plan was to build Amstel Canal from Beach 77 Street to Beach 63 Street, and then northward up to Jamaica Bay. Bridges were to cross Amstel Canal between Vernam Basin and Somerville Basin; the canal representative of the old Barbados Creek, which ran like so in the ancient times at Arverne. The portions of Amstel Canal dredged out were backfilled by the Somerville Realty Company after Remington Vernam, who founded Arverne in 1888, died in 1907. Vernam also reserved land for a Rockaway Beach hospital from Beach 63 Street to Beach 67 Street along the bay front, as well as a free school site. Both offerings were ignored!!

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