2007-11-09 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

A Deutsche Beir Garten In The Rockaways… Circa Eighteen Hundred And?
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev,Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S.Locke

Not many old photographs printed from glass plate negatives have survived to the present day. On occasion, a photo of the old 19th century days in the Rockaways surfaces…in the form of a postcard.

I have stated that on postcards of yore, the postmark date is not the date or year the picture was taken. For example, the old photo on the cover of my Postcard History Series book (arcadiapublishing.com) titled "The Rockaways" was dated from old newspaper articles to 1887, and the postmark date was 1906!

Until the outbreak of World War I, almost all antique postal cards were printed in Germany, as that country had the best quality printing process, and postcards published there were cheaper than those produced by the few quality card were publishers that were here in the states! All copy had to be sent abroad for publication, the cards were sent here by ship, and the original remained in Germany. Since then, two world wars have destroyed it all, but some have survived, such as the postcard image appearing in today's View. All the trace elements of an old Seaside. Yes, Seaside!...Deutsche Beir Garten! Names like Schildt, Meissner, Huber, Mertens, Schuster, Hillmeyer, Havemeyer, Flug, and Westernacher are a few of the proprietor names found in old Seaside-from the early 1880s to the time of the great "war to end all wars!" These establishments entertained the elite of German society from the Manhattan section called Yorkville, and those visiting from elsewhere!

Some German Beer Gardens were indoor types, but many were of the outdoor type with wooden platforms on the sand, shelter provided by canvas or wood roofs, surrounded by all sorts of wooden trellis work-some with vines or clinging roses growing entwined on them. Tables had chairs or benches, picket fences enclosed the properties, trees grew here and there, surrounded by cultivated and wild shrubs.

The four formally dressed gentlemen are looking directly at the camera, but the lady has struck a defensive pose and is looking away to her right. I wonder why? Big moustaches are in order for all the men, and the man (second from right) has his cigarette in a holder in his left hand and an umbrella in his right hand behind the woman! The man on the left has a rather broad-brimmed hat on the table in front of him, and the head on the beer indicates a good lager brewski!

To make a long story short, the old German Beer Gardens disappeared from Seaside. The last being Meissner's Place (I believe) on the southwest corner of Beach 103 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. After Meissner died, his wife sold out to George Griepenkerl and the Brunner brothers, all Rockaway Beach businessmen (hotels and stores). In the late 1920s the place became the Thansoulis Dance Palace in the blossoming section of Seaside that became known as Irishtown, U.S.A., Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

Does anyone recognize their uncle Ludwig at the table, or Aunt Irmgard?
If You have Any Old Photos
or Historical Information About The Rockaways
Please Send It To:
HISTORICAL ROCKAWAY
C/O THE WAVE P.O. BOX 930097
ROCKAWAY BEACH, N.Y. 11693

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