2010-06-18 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The old Far Rockaway Station Plaza, Mott and Central Avenues, 1922
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
When the Southside Railroad came to Far Rockaway in 1869, Central Avenue as we know it (on the right in today’s view) was just a dream, and the station (that was behind the store on the left) had an 8’ x 8’ ticket office on a small platform. The Far Rockaway station was just a get off onto the group stop, as were many in those days. Mott Avenue (in the foreground) was the only east/west road in the village of Far Rockaway, from Norton Basin to about today’s beach 17 street. Over the years the station plaza was improved, as was the station building, the LIRR freight yard and station, and the horse car trolley changed to an electric trolley to the beachfront.

The area in front of and on the east side of the station was changed to a station plaza and trolley terminal, with stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and stationary stores… and a drinking bar or two!

At the center of today’s view is the old Far Rockaway National Bank built and opened in 1912; the Far Rockaway Firehouse opened in 1913; the courthouse and library to the right (not shown) in the early 1900s: buildings behind the bank, (on the right side) built from 1899 on as office space and retail stores; the Winkler Storage Warehouse behind the bank on the left came in 1916; and the plaza stationary and pharmacy was built by H. M. Kanter in 1914. Kanter also had two stores on the beach in Rockaway Park and Holland.

As you can see there are trolley car tracks coming out of the station’s plaza on to Central Avenue, and then to the beachfront at Beach 19 Street. The trolley stopped running in the late 1920s, and the Green Bus Line soon filled the vacuum left by the trolley. As a result, a bus depot was opened in the station plaza at Far Rockaway. Buses provided service to the Point, Rockaway Park, Brooklyn to New Lots and Euclid Avenue subway connections (by Green Lines) and Nassau Buses ran to Long Beach and the Five Towns, and Jamaica buses to Jamaica.

After the IND subway came to Far Rockaway in 1956, a station built on Mott Avenue at Beach 22 Street and the LIRR no longer serviced the Peninsula to Far Rockaway station, the LIRR moved its station to Nameoke Street.

The bus lines were moved out onto the street with corners as terminals, and the once proud station plaza was reduced to a shopping center that still has problems to this day.

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