2008-03-07 / Letters

Saving The Rockaways History

Dear Editor,

The original Bayswater is a suburb of London, and in Far Rockaway's Bayswater Point, on streets named by their British settlers after place names in England for which they were affectionately sentimental ( Waterloo, Westbourne, and Granada Place), stately Victorian mansions hearken back to the community's Anglo-Saxon roots.

In the Rockaway Beach area, the Dutch influence on that community is echoed in the place names, such as Holland Avenue and Hammel Houses, and is expressed architecturally in clusters of wood frame shingle homes with gambrel-style rooftops in a distinctively Dutch style. Standing regally, along Beach 9 Street, from Central to Cornaga Avenues, are late 19th century homes built in the classic Greek Revival style. They are visual reminders of Far Rockaway in its turn-of-the-century heyday, when the wealthy and influential people residing here, rivaled their counterparts on Long Island's 'Gold Coast' on its North Shore. In pockets of Wavecrest and Rockaway Park, bungalow courtyards still provide summertime leisurely living in a cozy quaint style. An enclave of these bungalows on Beach 24 and 25 Streets have been upscaled with landscaping and are starting to attract Manhattan's urban professionals seeking summer getaways more affordable and less distant than the Hamptons. These are but a few of the communities that give the peninsula its unique historical architectural character, its sense of place.

Next weekend, the Historic Districts Council, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the unique flavor of New York's historical communities, will be holding their annual conference. On Sunday, March 8, panels of architectural historians and preservationists from different communities will be explaining the nuts and bolts of landmarking issues. They will talk about how the creation of landmark historic districts has successfully increased property values, commercial viability, and tourism. They will also describe the process involved in and the benefits of historic district designation. This will take place at the New School, 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. On Sunday, walking tours of historic districts

including Kensington, Murray Hill, and Richmond Hill in Queens, will be led by experts in the field.

Let's not let Rockaway's historical treasures become lost. Let's link up to the prestigious and profitable landmarking 'loop.' Urge your elected officials and community board members to attend the conference, especially those on its Land Use Committee. If you are interested in working on creating landmark districts in your part of the Rockaways, Contact me at 718- 337-9176, or go to my website hdc.org.

MICHAEL FELSON

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