2009-05-08 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Hammels Long Island Railroad Station - 1880 to 1943
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

When the railroad over Jamaica Bay was built to the Great Hotel in Rockaway Park in 1880, the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad built a station at Beach 84 Street on the bayfront, opposite the huge Hammel's Hotel. This was the first stop on the Rockaway peninsula, and then the trains continued west to the hotel. On the way, they stopped at Holland and Seaside sections before arrival at the hotel terminal.

Today's view was taken in 1909 from the eastern side of the Hammel's Wye, as it was known.

The double track to Rockaway Park is behind the old station, which was constructed in the west center of the Wye.

The track east to Arverne is behind the camera position, and the double track that made up the bottom of the Wye (or the crossover/deadhead track) is shown at bottom left.

A trolley car from Far Rockaway has been stopped at the trolley stop at the Hammel's station, before being switched off to run down Beach 84 Street to Rockaway Beach Boulevard, then turn west to Neponsit along the Boulevard route designated for the trolley line. Prior to the boulevard line the trolley ran on the LIRR track to Rockaway Park. This caused congestion and resulted in the boulevard line.

Beach 84 Street is behind the trolley car, and Hammels Boulevard comes in where the hotel stands on the left. Beach Channel Drive is to the right center, and today, the camera would be under the present "A" line crossover portion of the elevated Wye.

Grade crossing elimination caused the LIRR tracks to be elevated, and Hammels station was eliminated as a result. The ugly "El" opened as a whole in 1943, and there have been more auto crashes and deaths on 'suicide highway' than there were train-auto accidents.

What was that? Oh yes, the trolley stopped running in the late 1920s. the LIRR stopped running in 1951, and the IND not so rapid transit came in 1956.

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