2008-12-12 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

What A Difference A Century Makes!
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

magine that on one day you went into one of the business places on the

east side of the Far Rockaway shopping center, did or bought what you

wanted, and when you exited … you saw an entirely different scene or makeup of the shopping center parking lot and Mott Avenue section directly

in front. You drop your packages and hear the familiar twilight zone intro music … dahdahdahdahdahdahdah-daingggg!

Bewildered … you turn around to go back into the business place just exited

… and that is gone also ... and visible is the old Far Rockaway National Bank in full swing, plus the old courthouse and Carnegie Library.

Now totally flustered … you spin around and all is back to normal there. Slowly … you take out a small mirror from your purse, and use it to look back over your shoulder. Viola! The storefronts are also back to normal.

Upon arriving home you call The Wave to talk the historian Emil R. Lucev Sr. You relate what had taken place along with describing what was seen, and wanted too know what you saw, plus what year it was.

With the knowledge of your description of the O'Kane multi-story brick building as the only recognizable site, Emil stated that to the right or west of O'kane, and straddling Mott Avenue, were the old Montauk Hotel and the Montauk Vaudville Theatre built by Peter Strauss, the hotel being the present thrift site. From there Mott Avenue went westward to old Regina Boulevard (now Beach Channel Drive), and the greenery was in the Far Rockaway LIRR station plaza. Emil continued:

On the left or east side of O'Kane were 'on the ground' LIRR track crossing Mott Avenue on the way down the peninsula to Beach 116 Street (the site of the IND Far Rockaway station today) followed by the A.C. Haynes Realty and Andrew McTique Realty offices beside the tracks which area became Beach 22 Street. On the left side of these realties was the location of the August Winter's Summer Garden complex. Winter's place contained a hotel, a dancehall, dining room, and German beer hall, etc.

Old White Street (now Beach 21 Street) is on the left or east side of the summer garden, and the old Manhattan Hotel follows on the east side of old White Street. Also mentioned by Emil was the fact of the great White Street fire of 1916, a holocaust which destroyed much of the area around that street. What you observed was a time before the fire, and how, is a good question!

Emil invited you to The Wave office where he showed you a photo of the site on an old postcard, and jokingly stated that you should have had a camera with you. Your reply was a look … and a long yeah!

What Mrs. "X" saw that day she drifted into the twilight zone appears in today's view.

Note: Rabid followers of Historical Views know that many changes have taken place in the expanse of this photograph. Here are but a few: trolley station and tracks out; commercial space built on both sides of Mott Avenue; elevated LIRR tracks and Far Rockaway station; bus depot built, commuter parking, taxi depot; NYC subway station built; LIRR station out to Nameoke Street; bus depot out into local streets; shopping center with parking lot built; becomes a public free parking lot; and restaurants and stores open, close, open, close, etc.
If You have Any Old Photos or Historical Information
About The Rockaways
P.O. BOX 930097 ROCKAWAY BEACH, N.Y. 11693

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