2009-02-27 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Original Rockaway Beach Boardwalk Built In 1901
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Far Rockaway had a boardwalk on its outer beach destroyed by a great storm in 1903, Arverne had a series of ground level walks covered by sand as the beach grew outward, until an elevated walk was built in 1901; and the Seaside section had - in the same year - a short elevated walk along the beachfront from Beach 97 Street to Beach 100 Street fronting the Steeplechase Park built there by George C. Tilyou of Coney Island.

During the winter of 1901/02 Steeplechase Park was expanded when L.A. Thompson moved his amusement midway and scenic railway here, from Buffalo, New York.

As a result, the businesses of Rockaway Beach got together and built a wooden elevated boardwalk from Beach 97 Street to Beach 90 Street. In a short time hotels, bathhouses, restaurants, lunchrooms, and a tailor shop were constructed along the walk, similar to the business blocks on the Arverne boardwalk.

During the next several years or so, the empty land shown in today's view of that walk built in Rockaway Beach, was developed and filled with hotels, rooming houses, bungalows, a tent camp, bathhouses, and lots of stores on the boulevard (to the left and not shown). In the background the large Holland House Hotel and the Oriental Hotel are in sight.

In the 1920s William Auer constructed a Kiddes amusement park, complete with a Kidde Rollercoaster built by L.A. Thompson scenic railway company specially for Auer, and a tent camp on the land shown at the left. That is, until Robert Moses built Shorefront Parkway in 1937. That is when the land was returned to its original state … but covered with concrete.

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