2009-02-06 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Rockaway Beach Congregational Church And Parsonage
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

If this view were taken today, from the north side of Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 94 Street and Beach 95 Street, the Doughboy Monument is all that you would observe.

The church building, built in the late 1880s, was originally located on the east side of the present Peninsula Library building, but was moved to this new site when Public School 44 was built in the late 1890s. The church parsonage was built next door on the boulevard site in 1905, and the Rockaway Beach Post Office was located behind the church property.

In 1914 the Congregational church was beautifully remodeled, and all went well until City Commissioner Robert Moses came to town.

The land between the two streets previously mentioned, from ocean to bay, was slated for a parking lot for beachgoers, in 1937.

A new house of worship was built on the bayside of Beach 94 Street, where the church had to give up a portion of land for the new Crossbay Bridge grade separation. Thus a beautiful garden was lost, forever!

Several hundred buildings consisting of hotels, rooming houses, private homes, and bath houses were demolished for this parking lot, and at the same time, the entire beachfront north of the boardwalk was torn down for the construction of Moses' Shorefront Parkway … the road that was tagged as the road from nowhere to nowhere.

Years ago, I used to say in a kidding way that the history of Rockaway could be summed up as, "on this empty lot once stood!" With all the recent home construction … I am speechless.

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