2008-10-31 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Ocean Shore Tent City … West Arverne … Rockaway Beach, N.Y.
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Back in 1912, the Arethusa Realty Company announced that a new tent colony would be opened in west Arverne, on both sides of Merthens Place (Beach 67 Street), from behind the boulevard buildings to the beachfront. Mr. Frank Baldwin was to be the manager and was a partner in the Arethusa Company. Originally to have only 111 tents, the demand was such that there were 300 tents in 1913.

Today's view was taken from atop Miller's Casino and Atlantic Villa Summer Resort, on the southwest corner of Park Avenue (Beach 75 Street) and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Despite the fact that other tent colonies on Rockaway Beach were being converted into wooden bungalow colonies, the ocean shore tent city did well, but closed in 1923. A varied assortment of structures of the time arose.

The camera is facing the beach, with Merthens Place on the right. There is no boardwalk at the end of this street, for there was none at this point, because the Arverne boardwalk ended at Beach 74 Street, or two blocks to the east (left). The present walk came in the 1920s.

Surrounding the tent camp were the Oppenheimer Hotel and Restaurant, the Vendome Hotel, the New Hotel, Reich's Hotel, the White House Hotel, the Wavecrest Hotel, Carlton Hall House, rooming houses, apartment houses, and some bungalows.

Lawlor's Grocery was the closest and sort of official provider for the needs of campers, as well as the neighborhood.

Each tent was on a wooden platform, and had running water, gas for cooking and heat when necessary, and sewage disposal. As indicated on one tent, it was fashioned by the Pacolet Mfg. Company, and the people shown at the right are looking at the photographer, while wash is drying on the lines of the tents.
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