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Rockaway, New York

From Academic Kids

Rockaway is the name of a peninsula of Long Island, most of which is located within the borough of Queens in New York City; the peninsula's easternmost section forms the town of East Rockaway, in suburban Nassau County.

A popular summer resort area since the 1830s, Rockaway — or, as it is informally known, "The Rockaways" — has become a mixture of lower, middle, and upper-class neighborhoods. Its remoteness from New York City proper have made it a popular retreat, but also have provided an out-of-the-way area to relocate communities destroyed by urban renewal.

Rockaway is part of New York's 9th Congressional District.

Contents

Early History

Initially settled by the Canarsie tribe, but sold to the Dutch by the Mohegan tribe along with most of Long Island in 1639, and to the British in 1685. Finally the land was sold to Richard Cornell, who settled there.

The village of Rockaway Park became incorporated into the City of Greater New York on July 1, 1897.

The Playground of New York

Rockaway became a popular area for seaside hotels starting in the 1830s, and popularity grew with the coming of the Long Island Rail Road in the 1880s. The bungalow became the most popular type of housing during the summer months. Even today, some of these remain, converted to provide head and modern facilities, although the vast majority were razed in urban renewal during the 1960s.

In 1893, Hog Island, a resort known for entertaining Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall sank into the sea. Located a few miles east of Breezy Point, and also known as Rockaway Island, the entire island disappeared during a storm. Plates, along with older artificts still wash up along the shore of Rockaway Beach.

Rockaway Playland, a world renowned amusement park opened in 1901, and was a popular place for New York families until 1985 when insurance costs and competition from major regional parks made it impossible to continue operations.

The completion of the Cross Bay Bridge in 1925 and the Marine Parkway Bridge in 1937 increased the accessibilty to Queens and Brooklyn, however, the development of Jones Beach by Robert Moses drew tourism away from both Coney Island and Rockaway Beach.

Today the area still draws crowds during the summer, with well-tended beaches. Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden can be found on the western end of the peninsula, part of the Gateway National Recreational Area one of the first urban national parks. A long boardwalk and long sandy beaches make this a popular summer day trip for New York City residents.

Bedroom Community

As inexpensive travel, air-conditioning and the creation of the highway system, Rockaway lost its luster as a recreation area, and development transformed much of it into residential communities.

The peninsula's main "town" is Far Rockaway, incorporated in 1888, situated near the stem of the peninsula, just inside the city limits. Other important neighborhoods on the peninsula include Arverne, Neponsit, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor and Edgemere.

Broad Channel, located on its own island in Jamaica Bay between the peninsula and the mainland of Queens, is generally considered to be psychographically part of the Rockaways. The Rockaway area, including Broad Channel, is served by two New York City Subway lines, the A and the S, although both lines run completely above ground locally, using tracks purchased from the Long Island Railroad in the 1950s (until 1975, an additional fare was charged to passengers either boarding or departing the train at any of the Rockaway-area stations, including Broad Channel, if the trip originated or terminated outside the area).

In the years immediately following World War II, several public housing projects were built in the region, and these eventually became hotbeds of crime and related social pathologies. This provoked a backlash from some of the peninsula's more established residents (many of whom are of Irish Catholic ethnicity). A strong Jewish community (many of whose members are Sephardic Jews) also exists in the area south of Rockaway Park.

Redevelopment of much of the old resort and bungalow area has still not begun. Plans and projects including casinos, sports arenas, middle income housing and various other real-estate proposals have met with resistance politically. In 2002 a revival in the area began as a residential development began construction in the Arverne neighborhood in the center of Far Rockaway. Many residents are complaining due to the overdevelopment in the Rockway Park and Rockaway Beach areas. This problem has to due with Rockaway's erratic zoning laws that have not been revamped. Many of the zones are still catered to large multiple dwellings because of the large hotels that had existed in the area. Also many residents feel that there is not enough public transportation and roadways to fit the needs of the rapidly growing population.

Art and Culture

The Ramones song Rockaway Beach is probably the most common pop culture reference to this region, although Herman Melville refers to it in Moby-Dick. The Rockaway Art's Council provides a wide range of events throughout the year. Woody Allen's Radio Days was filmed in Rockaway Park, with period facades and cars turning back the clock during the shoot. Denis Leary's hit TV series Rescue Me has filmed in many locations on the Rockaway Peninsula. One of the most famous movie chase scenes- The French Connection-- was filmed in Rockaway, under the elevated A-train line.

Historical Events

On June 7, 1993, a ship called the "Golden Venture" beached on the shore of Fort Tilden, located on the western half of the Rockaway Peninsula. The ship contained 296 Chinese illegal aliens and 13 crew members. Ten people drowned trying to reach the peninsula's shoreline.

On November 12, 2001 American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in the Rockaway neighborhood of Belle Harbor killing 265 people.

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