2008-10-17 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Most Modern Telephone Building, Rockaway Beach, 1908
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

During the late 1880s the main telephone switchboard from upper Queens to the peninsula was located in the Wynn Building, on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway. From here a trunk line ran west down the peninsula to Chubbuck's drugstore on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, northeast corner of Beach 86 Street. Our first local switchboard was in the back, and was operated by Mrs. Adele Chubbuck.

The first exchange was called Hammels and each number had three digits (up from two) as the service grew by leaps and bounds.

Today's view shows the new telephone exchange building built in 1908 on the northeast corner of Beach 81 Street in Hammels. Since then the building has expanded a few times.

The Hammels exchange was changed to Belle Harbor (1920) Belle Harbor-5 (1930) Neptune-4 (1950) and to the present numerical area code and numbers to accommodate more and more telephones and service. Dial phones came in 1949 and gone was the party line (same number with a letter ending).

Far Rockaway phones had a Cedarhurst or Woodmere exchange until Far Rockaway-7 came in 1930, as did Cedarhurst-9.

Also in 1908, a new building was built at 15-20 Central Avenue in Far Rockaway by the phone company. This building was also enlarged as phone demand and service grew.

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