2009-08-28 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Katz Flat Iron Building - Far Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

From time to time in the Rockaways, building demolitions or renovations reveal cast iron facades, which were used to decorate and strengthen construction—and eliminate the dreaded deteriorization of exposure to the elements.

Examples of this can be seen on the front of The Wave building. Another example can be seen at Beach 100 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

In Far Rockaway, the Katz Flatiron Building was put up on Central Avenue, opposite the library, sometime between 1886 and 1891.

Today's Historical Views shows what the building looked like in 1908. The library is on the right, and obscured by the trees are the old courthouse and the Far Rockaway firehouse. Central Avenue is behind the camera, and on the extreme left is the Far Rockaway station plaza and trolley station rooms.

Starting at the background and coming to the left (or south) the Far Rockaway Bell Telephone building; Horton's Stables; a few office buildings; a private residence; and the five story brick newhall building built in 1897.

Next in the line is the McNamara brothers Far Rockaway Journal building, and then a tailor shop. At this point the Katz Flatiron building begins, and runs to the cone peak with the stars and stripes on top!

The electric sign below the flag is supposed to say Flatiron Café, but the artist who did touch up the photo messed it up. The small sign above the front door says Flatiron Café, but the owner's name cannot be read.

An electric sign also runs the length of the roofline, and it advertises Koster's—that's the beer!—Columbus, Ohio.

The rest of Katz' building contained a barber shop, shoemaker shop, Chinese laundry, harness shop, a hay-feed-coal office, and the Cottage Inn Restaurant. Edward F.J. Zimmerman had a sign painting shop here and moved to Rockaway Park in 1895.

The toggery sign on the brick structure advertises that men's furnishings store up on Central Avenue. Teddy's Restaurant once occupied the first floor of this building, and in modern time O'Gara's Pub and Grill. A dealer in Ford automobiles was nearby.

The Katz building was torn down in 1911, and in the following year the Far Rockaway National Bank opened for business: the bank building is still on the site—closed and unused—and was the leading bank in the Rockaways until it could no longer compete with larger banking corporations.

A new shopping center opened next door in 1967, and while the old bank building of granite stood empty, a new bank—in a new building—opened next door in 1974.

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