2012-06-01 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Rockaway Point Rock Hook Jetty, At Rockaway Inlet
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

In the waning days of the roaring twenties (1920s), the point of the Rockaway Beach Peninsula was still doing its thing … extending itself to the west by the natural accretion of sand; the littoral drift; as a result, underwater shoals were becoming hazardous to the safe navigation in Rockaway Inlet.

At this time it was decided to build the Rock Hook Jetty that was first planned in the early 1900s, when there was a plan to convert Jamaica Bay into a great seaport.

Construction bids were made in October of 1930, and work began in April of 1931. The Hook Jetty was to be 1.75 miles in length, require 300 thousand tons of rock, be 10 feet above mean sea level and 15 feet in width, and the last 500 feet to be 50 feet in width.

One hundred workers would be employed for the project, 500 feet of railroad track installed on a wooden trestle to transport rock to and out into the surfsite, steam dredges and derricks to place rocks from railroad flatcars, and a fleet of barges to transport the rock from its source.

The jetty installation began in the vicinity of Beach 219 Street to the north of the present Rockaway Point Boulevard, and was completed and accepted in August of 1933. Lost by storm or accident were two barges sunk and one steam derrick that fell off a dredge. Workers were injured but no deaths were known or reported.

Today’s historical view is a picture postcard view of the new stone breakwater, at the Breezy Point section of Rockaway Point. The railroad trestle is still in place, but was wrecked by a storm, and the remnants were removed.

Barges brought the rock to the site dock and unloading facility. Steam derricks then placed the rock on railroad flatcars, and the flatcars were moved on the rails to the trestle (which ran the route of the jetty into the surf line) and unloaded and placed in position by steam derricks on steam dredges. Judging by the picture, the new jetty was popular with people also!

At the same time, a similar stone hook jetty was built at Atlantic Beach, on the west end of Long Beach bar. This jetty only increased the problems it was to solve, and caused serious erosion to the beach in Edgemere and Arverne sections of the peninsula … and still does!

If You have Any Old Photos or Historical Information About The Rockaways Please Send It To: HISTORICAL ROCKAWAY C/O THE WAVE P.O. BOX 930097 ROCKAWAY BEACH, N.Y. 11693

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