2009-03-27 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

An Artist's Version Of The Boardwalk At Rockaway Beach - 1905
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Today's views feature an artist's drawing of the boardwalk, fronting George C. Tilyou's Steeplechase Park in the Seaside section of Rockaway Beach in 1905.

In the foreground is the Beach 97 Street end of Steeplechase Park where, in 1905, L.A. Thompson purchased a block of land, boulevard to beach, and opened his L.A. Thompson Amusement Park.

This park became Rockaways' Playland in 1928. Thompson's hurricane scenic railway is at the right.

In the background left are the Seaside Iron Pier and the automatic Toboggan rollercoaster operated by C. N. Grant.

Heading west from the scenic railway is the Vitagraph Theatre, where sound was added to silent motion pictures by playing records; the great circle swing; the Steeplechase Horses as in Coney Island; the entrance to Steeplechase Park's amusement area; the Steeplechase baths; and the haunted house attraction.

The second floor of steeplechase held the mammoth restaurant Pavillion and observation section. A small tent colony was also in Thompson's Amusement Park.

The narrow outer walk of the boardwalk held a narrow gauge miniature railroad from two seasons, and the R of W was double tracked. Storm damage, and a derailment onto the beach, ended the mini railroad at the close of the 1904 season. It was said that the track ran to the boulevard on Beach 97 Street also.

The end of this early wooden boardwalk was at Beach 100 Street, where a down ramp (the incline walk) led to the Seaside section bowery or midway where the bulk of the Seaside bowery ended at Beach 107 Street … where a gate gave entrance to Seaside's giant tent city called Camp Chaffee, after the owner.

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