2012-02-17 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Far Rockaway National Bank, Mott And Central Avenues, Far Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

At the Northwest corner of Mott and Central Avenues in Far Rockaway stands a ghost of Far Rockaway’s past. The ornate three story marble finished structure was once the National Bank of Far Rockaway, built as the new home on the east side of the Far Rockaway LIRR station and at the business hub of the area – namely the intersection of Mott and Central Avenues. The new bank was the first thing that caught one’s eye when arriving at Far Rockaway by train.

First organized in 1908, the bank was quartered in the Old Wynn building on the southwest corner of Central and Cornaga Avenues. The Far Rockaway National Bank (not to be confused with the old Far Rockaway Bank) was an offshoot of the Queens County Trust Company, and the site of the new banking edifice was clear of the Old Katz Flatiron/Cast Iron construction – which contained a hotel and restaurant plus a few stores.

The Far Rockaway National Bank did very well over the years, survived the depression of the 1930s – it being a very strong bank, the largest in Far Rockaway – and became a U.S. Depositary in 1933. After World War II assets were reported at $8 million.

Continuing competition and services from other banks opening in the Rockaways, strange as it may seem, caused the Far Rockaway National Bank to wither away and, according to a 1953 C of C Publication, an election of officers was held, probably the last! In any event, there was no big fanfare or farewell or moving notice. With the coming of rapid transit to Far Rockaway in the late 1950s, a new subway station was built at Mott Avenue and Beach 22 Street, and the LIRR station was moved to its present Nameoke Street location.

The elevated structure over Mott Avenue, the elevated Far Rockaway station, and the elevated down sloping right of way towards Inwood station (that crossed Nameoke Street on a bridge) were removed.

In the mid 1960s a shopping center opened on the old station site, and quite ironically, a new banking facility was built practically in front of the old vacant Far Rockaway National Bank building. The huge bus depot and station parking were moved elsewhere, much to the disgust of those who used the buses and new subway in Far Rockaway.

Today’s historical view was shot in 1912 shortly after the bank opened for business. Across Central Avenue on the right is the old Far Rockaway Court House, and to the left of the courthouse, the new (presets) Far Rockaway firehouse is being built (opened in 1913).

The Far Rockaway Carnegie Library property is to the right of the courthouse/ village hall. To the left of the bank building is the court cafĂ©, McNamara’s Printer and Rockaway News Weekly Newspaper, and a five story brick office building.

The posts placed in the ground are for traffic control to the station, and, if you look at the building on the left, you will notice a trolley car coming out, to exit the station grounds running alongside the bank building to the track down Central Avenue – to the beachfront. Far Rockaway station is to the extreme left and not shown, and trolley tracks and overhead power cables and trolley poles have been washed out by the printer for clarity.

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