Here is how the story has been told to me: one hundred and sixty years ago, in 1851, Captain Louis Dodge and his wife Rhoda arrived in Rockaway Beach, and settled in a house in the vicinity of Beach 80 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. At the time, there were only three houses on the west end of the peninsula. Six years later, Michael P. Holland and Fannie Brush Holland of Jamaica, Long Island purchased a hotel, known at the time as the Carhart House, plus all of the land, Beach 88 Street to Beach 94 Street, from the bay to the ocean. They moved to Rockaway Beach with their twelve children, to renovate and operate the Carhart, which they renamed the Holland Hotel. So the Hollands were, in a sense, the first Rockaway Beach real estate developers. At least they didn’t try to put up a skyscraper. Instead, they trucked in topsoil from Far Rockaway to turn the sand dunes into arable land, and planted vegetables to feed what they hoped would be hordes of tourists. The rest, as they say, is history, and it’s funny how it does repeat itself. Those who regularly read The Wave, or my webpage, Oy Vey Rockaway, know that I embarked on the task of compiling and writing “Images of America: Rockaway Beach” this past summer.
The book, which, incidentally, is being produced and printed here in the United States completely by American workers, is a small, soft-cover compilation, and will be available for purchase in local stores about June, 2012. You can check for updates on the exact publication date and locations to buy the book at my webpage, www.rockviv.com. I believe the book will be exceptional, as I have obtained many wonderful photographs from the collections of The Wave, First Congregational Church (celebrating its 125th anniversary this year), New York City Parks Department, Queensborough Public Library and the Municipal Archives of New York. Several dedicated individual collectors of local history have also graciously shared their materials with me. However, I am still in need of about two dozen more historic photos for the book, within the next two weeks. Please send an email to me at VCARTER@nyc.rr.com, if you have any great vintage photos of the people, buildings, and events of Rockaway Beach (from Beach 80 to Beach 108 Streets), taken at any time through the 1970s.
Photos taken at schools, churches, sporting or community events, as well as pictures of business establishments and civil servants (police, fire, parks, sanitation, or school employees) are most welcome.
This is the last chance to see your vintage family memory appear in what will become a permanent, printed “photo album” of Rockaway Beach for the mass market. “Images of America: Rockaway Beach” is not a webpage, but something you can hold in your hand and browse while you enjoy sitting on the porch or the beach next summer. All contributions from the community toward the book are greatly appreciated. The cover photo is reproduced in this column today.
I’m trying to identify the lifeguards in the photo, so send me a message if you can shed any light on that subject.