2008-07-11 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

A Hotel That Became An Island Unto Itself In Arverne
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Jerome Bibo built this three story stucco faced Bibo House Hotel, on the north side of the Arverne boardwalk, at Beach 62 Street. From the hotel's inception in about 1910, up to the year of this postcard illustration in 1916, the worsening beach erosion around the building caused owner Bibo to build up his foundation under the hotel. This is readily seen by looking under the walk, and, at lower left a jetty or breakwater construction is observed. At right bottom inland erosion is noticeable.

The great storm of 1920 destroyed this boardwalk from Beach 59 Street to Beach 68 Street, ate away more beach and destroyed the jetty. Bibo's Hotel became an island unto itself at high water. The beach was rebuilt in the mid 1920s and a new ocean boardwalk was constructed from Far Rockaway to Belle Harbor, with added jetties for erosion protection.

In 1960 a movie starring Frank Sinatra, "The Detective," shot a chase scene to catch a wanted criminal hiding in the hotel. The bad guy fled the hotel with two detectives after him, and all exited the building on the ground level. After a short run from under the boards out onto the beach, the wanted man was tackled by Sinatra and arrested. At this point in time there was a wide beach to run out on!

This is only one photo that shows what early beach owners had to do, in order to hold onto their private beaches, until they could no longer bear the expense, and then surrendered their riparian rights to the beachfront (Far Rockaway to Riis Park) in order for the city to rebuild the beach, and include a full length ocean promenade. By 1930 the new beachfront was finished… until!

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