2011-06-17 / Community

Broad Channel Included In NYC History And Guide

By Kerri Ann Dinneny

The third edition of “The Other Islands of New York City: A History and Guide” by Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller includes a new chapter on Broad Channel and additional information from the last ten years on ‘the other islands.’

The third edition contains even more offbeat stories and local legends of the other islands in New York City. It encourages readers to explore the forgotten islands more than does the average travel guide to Manhattan.

Broad Channel is now included in the Jamaica Bay section (it also features a chapter on the forgotten islands of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways). The book contains facts about the historical development of the area. It attempts to describe the special nature of the community that only a true local could know. The authors, Seitz and Miller, must have experienced some aspects of the ‘local magic’ of Broad Channel to reveal certain ‘secrets’ of the tight-knit Channel. For example, they disclose to readers the long-standing ritual of children jumping from a diving board underneath Cross Bay Boulevard into the waters of Jamaica Bay below.

“History and Guide” draws a timeline of more than a century of Broad Channel’s strife with the city over the ownership of the land on which the residents’ houses stand.

The book’s history of Broad Channel starts with the local fishing trade expanding after the Civil War, to the railroad line construction of Rockaway and Long Island, and continues all the way through a 2006 Halloween incident in which a police car was egged, turning into a violent confrontation between police officers and some residents of the community.

Collecting evidence of the town’s heart and soul was just as easy as indicating struggles with the City. The chapter highlights the community efforts for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, as well as BC’s failed projects and bankruptcies that Seitz and Miller also chronicle.

The authors seem in awe of this family-friendly population of Broad Channel as it has evolved over generations. They describe it as a “city neighborhood clinging to its small-town soul” and “both part of New York City and a world away from it.”

Broad Channel should be proud to be part of this volume that records the history of the often overlooked islands of New York City.

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