2007-12-21 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The O'Reilly Brother's Queens Beach
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev,Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S.Locke

When Mr. Frank Chaffee sold his Tent City in Seaside at season's end in 1910, the new owners - The Queens Beach Company - announced that the old Tent City between Beach 106 Street and Beach 109 Street would become the site of a new amusement park, similar to Luna Park and Dreamland at Coney Island, plus an oceanfront boardwalk.

In the spring of 1911, Dreamland at Coney Island was totally destroyed by fire, and that sort of held back the amusement park plan, for the tent city in Seaside kept going for a few more years.

Tent City closed for good in 1913, and the Queens Beach Company slated a colony of wooden bungalows to replace the canvas tents.

Tent City was laid out in small lots, each with a single-story wooden bungalow upon it, for sale or lease to individuals. Sales or leases were brisk from then on!

In 1928, on the Memorial Day holiday, the first part of the present boardwalk opened between Beach 115 Street and Beach 90 Street, causing talk of another Luna Park in Seaside, and the O'Reilly brothers opened a large hotel on the southwest corner of Beach 107 Street and the boulevard - calling same the Queens Beach Hotel.

The two also built a large bathing and bathhouse facility at the foot of Beach 108 Street, on the beach.

Next door to the hotel was Pobliner's Delicatessen and Grocery Store & Catering!

Two years later, there were a couple of damaging fires at the baths, and the brothers built another bathhouse pavilion of brick, on the new boardwalk at the foot of Beach 108 Street. The old baths and pavilion were sold to the Fitzgerald brothers; they were rebuilt, and reopened as a new Fitzgerald's.

As luck would have it, Robert Moses came to town, and the O'Reillys lost the boardwalk place to the construction of Mose's Shorefront Drive (1938).

The hotel continued on, with limited baths for clients, since Moses did not allow public baths anymore, outside of a small portion of the Steeplechase baths not in his line in Seaside; his line of destruction!!

In the 1960s, the O'Reillys' Queens Beach Hotel was demolished, for the construction of Dayton Towers West at Seaside. With this construction, Moses got rid of the rest of the Seaside neighborhood.

The rebuilding and widening of Beach 108 Street connected Shorefront Parkway to Beach Channel Drive, which went to the Marine Parkway Bridge, which went to the Belt Parkway, which went to the Verrazano Bridge.

This was part of the Moses "Ego" Road, out to Riverhead on Long Island! Now Moses needed Shorefront Parkway to run to Far Rockaway and connect with the Atlantic Beach Bridge, with the roads over there on Long Beach running east to his Jones Beach roads.

He never got Shorefront to Far Rockaway, but his ego was such, that the area between the prefabricated high rise near the boardwalk and Beach 59 Street, eastward, was named "Shorefront Parkway."

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