2010-05-07 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge from the Air… 1995
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
This aerial view of the center lift span of the Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge over Rockaway inlet, was taken from the Brooklyn side of the crossing.

The narrowness of the peninsula is very obvious, and raises some eyebrows. Beach 169 Street and Riis Park are on the Rockaway side, while the Flatbush Avenue extension is on the Brooklyn side.

The Atlantic Ocean is in the background, all the way to the horizon.

Fort Tilden is at the right center on the Rockaway side, as is the old Coast Guard station and East Roxbury. At the bottom is the southern portion of the Floyd Bennett Field Section of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The bridge was built in 1937 by Robert Moses, who wanted to make Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula a second Jones Beach, replicating the successful Long Island beach.

Moses denied that those were his plans, as he also denied that he was working on getting rid of all of the homes in Broad Channel, turning the island into an amusement center for the city,

Moses also thought about the bay as a seaport, with an inlet cut through Rockaway from the Atlantic Ocean. Although he denied that plan, specific drawings for the plan were found in his papers after he died.

Why build a bridge that would let ocean-going ships pass under it unless there were other plans for the bay?

At the time, there were also plans to homeport a warship at Floyd Bennett Field, which could have necessitated a bridge that would allow those large ships to pass.

Was it also intended for large cruise ships to Jones Beach Two? The original bridge toll was only $0.15 to cross. How about that!

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