2011-10-14 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Louis Hermberger’s Hotel, Beach 98 Street on the beach
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

After George C. Tilyou, owner of Rockaway’s Steeplechase Park, and Lamarcus A. Thompson, the owner of L.A. Thompson Park next door, built up the bayfront at Beach 98 Street, the Steeplechase dock was built.

Boats coming to the two new amusement parks here could let passengers off at Beach 98 Street now, instead of at the dock on Beach 103 Street.

Immediately thereafter, Louis Hermberger built a small hotel by the dock, and the place was enlarged, reaching three stories (shown today as two stories).

Behind the hotel, a picnic ground and a large freight station were built. Sidewheel steamers such as the Grand Republic and the General Slocum stopped at Steeplechase Dock.

After Crossbay Road was built over Jamaica Bay to the Rockaway shore, the steamers slowly stopped coming to the bay docks, and the area hotels lost patronage.

The building was still there in the early 1930s, but when the Crossbay Bridge was widened in the latter part of the decade, the old hotel was demolished for the new grade separation planned for the bridge and the widening and improvement of Beach Channel Drive.

At the Old Hermberger site in the 1950s, the management of Rockaways’ Playland had a parking lot built and the bulkhead/dock fixed up for the landing of Playland excursion boats from other parts of New York city, including Brooklyn and the Bronx.

If Hermberger’s Hotel were around today, it would be on the east end of the present Beach Channel High School, along Beach Channel Drive.

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