2009-03-20 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Let's Take The Steamboat To Rockaway Beach Today!
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Between the years 1876 and 1926, many sidewheel steamboats plied the regional waters around New York City and Harbor … to the docks along the Jamaica Bay waterfront, and the iron ocean pier at Seaside on Beach 105 Street thereat.

The latter went unused as a steamboat landing after a great storm took the pierhead landing "out to sea."

The steamboat and railroad companies sold combination tickets, in that you could go by boat and return by train, or vice versa! - from $.35 to $.50.

Today's view shows the steamer "Rosedale" at the Seaside House Hotel dock at Beach 103 Street and Jamaica Bay. The name has been whited out by the publisher, so the postcard purchaser could rename the boat.

The two-stacker sidewheel steamer has a walking beam type of engine, and made good speed when underway. Some larger steamers had three decks, and a military band led by professor so-and-so supplied concerts for the passengers.

When Crossbay Road opened in 1926, steamboat travel gave way to the automobile, as did the railroads. Riders and much needed revenues fell to the point of bankruptcy.

During the winter of 1933, the largest of the vessel owners, the Iron Steamboat Company, sold its fleet of seven boats, which were bought for one million and a quarter dollars, for $15,050. The company's liability was $750,000.

Each boat bore the name of a constellation in the night sky: Cepheus, Sirius, Cygnus, Taurus, Cteus, Perseus, and Pegasus. Most of the boats were about 51 years old when sold. Their disposition, scrap or service, was not publicized.

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