2010-02-19 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The First Boardwalk at Far Rockaway-1904 to 1907
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
The short lived first Far Rockaway boardwalk is shown today in views, and was built on what was left of the outer beach at Far Rockaway, after the destructive storm of 1903. Only a narrow spit of sand was left offshore and stretched only a few blocks to the east and west of Beach 17 Street. William Caffrey, who had owned this part of the beach since the early 1870s, was one not to give in to Mother Nature and King Neptune and rebuilt on what was left of the devastated beachfront at Far Rockaway.

The bridge was renewed to the sandbar, or spit. Bathing and other resort facilities were also renewed (as space would permit) and a slightly raised boardwalk about ten feet wide was built fronting the new bath house at Beach 17 Street, which was only several blocks long. As small as it was, it was a big hit with promenaders. The storms up to and including 1908 wiped out what was left, finally causing Caffrey to sell out his holdings.

Thus came Roche’s and Ostend Beaches on the hard shore of the beach at Far Rockaway, acting, if you will, as a groin out into the surf. The east side gathers as the west side washes away. The tip of Long Beach Bar could be called a moving groin. The extension of the Rockaway Beach peninsula to the west was doing the same to Coney Island beaches.

The stone hook jetties installed at both places in the early 1930s stopped the westward advance of both, but created other problems for both.

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