Forgotten NY correspondent


In the 1870s, the southern shoreline of Manhattan Beach was straightened with an 8-block waterfront walkway running between the southern ends of Corbin Place and Ocean Avenue. In 1987, property owner Jack Laboz fenced off the portion of the walkway between the water’s edge and his home, arguing that the city neglected to maintain the Esplanade. A judge agreed with Laboz and the Esplanade has since been claimed by other local property owners. Grass was planted on top of it. Visitors are discouraged from “trespassing” by sings warning of guard dogs, security cameras and property owners threatening to call the police.


More recently, the city included the Esplanade in its Vision 2020 plan, seeking to connect the public beaches at Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach with a waterfront walkway. The local Community board agrees with the city but the property owners insist that the 1993 court ruling is eternal.


Among the residents who capitalized on the land claim are Laboz, whose home at 253 Amherst Street encroaches on the former walkway and has a lawn extending to the water.


Nearby 296 West End Avenue, owner by Gary Vinbaytel, took over land at the dead end of the street. His 17,000 square foot mansion was appraised at $9.75 million in 2012.


Only a small section of the Esplanade is open to the public, at the southwest corner of Manhattan Beach Park here at the end of Ocean Avenue.


When the city speaks of linear coastal parks, Hudson River Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park serve as leading examples but the Manhattan Beach Esplanade predates them by more than a century.


Other factoids: There are other roads called Esplanade in New York City:
According to Wikipedia, an esplanade is a waterfront roadway/pedestrian path. Famous ones are the Malecón in Havana and the Corniche in Beirut.



Categorized in: Forgotten Slices Tagged with:

8 Responses to BROOKLYN’S ESPLANADE, Manhattan Beach

  1. John says:

    It is a wonder that the City did not pull a trump card. The Feds step in and state that since the coast is not up to FEMA standards and is UN-accessable to the public, no emergency FEMA funds will be disbursed to owners after a hurricane. I came across this “club” after hurricane Gloria in 1980 in coastal NJ when I was dispatched there working for the Corps of Engineers/FEMA.

  2. Jay says:

    The Esplanade is 40 feet wide, as described in the Laboz house deed and others. Rather than fighting the easement battle, the city could just build a new promenade beyond there, on fill or piles. The homeowners would keep their big yard, but it wouldn’t be oceanfront anymore.

    • John says:

      Since the creation of EPA and NYS DEC in the 1970s, all filling of tidal waters has been stopped as it harms the marine environment. Remember what happened to Westway in Manhattan?

  3. L. I. Lambert says:

    In my humble opinion as an architect, the Vinbaytel house is one of the silliest and ugliest bits of residential architecture I’ve come across in years. It’s the poster child of ostentatious, bad taste.

  4. Manhattan Beach resident says:

    I am afraid this isn’t the complete story. The judge ruled that the land belonged to the individual property owners whose property abuts the Esplanade, but at least one of the property owners claims never to have been offered the property. The City was anxious to give away the Esplanade because it was mostly destroyed in the 1960 Hurricane Donna and the City maintained it did not have the funds to rebuild it, so it languished. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 finished it off completely. Rather than face huge lawsuits if someone was injured or killed, the City decided on giving away valuable waterfront property that all citizens used to have access to.

    But the picture you show is not of the destroyed Esplanade. Go to Google Earth to see how it looked prior to Sandy. What you see is an entirely rebuilt Esplanade that is now closed off to the public and labeled Private Property. So how did half half the Esplanade (the portion you see in the first picture) get rebuilt? A wealthy and powerful property owner purchased several of the properties and managed to get control of half the Esplanade, including ones in front of some homes he does not own. How did that happen?

    Also, isn’t it a little odd that for 50 years the City was too broke to repair the Esplanade, but a single individual had the funds to completely rebuild about 800 feet of it in only several months which included trucking in many of the boulders you see in the first picture? He also installed a seven foot high concrete wall along one of the blocks without any of the necessary permits.

    Someone really needs to investigate all this.

    • Al Braunau says:

      That same “developer” bought a presidential pardon from George W Bush – that was quickly rescinded in 2009 when fellow Republicans explained to GW Bush just whom the criminal he had pardoned was and how many people he ruined by selling poor minorities substandard homes in the Poconos at incredibly inflated prices.. This nice “developer” threatened every property owner and waged a campaign of terror against them calling in his political hacks and bureaucrats to terrorize his neighbors into selling him their homes. He especially terrorized the Christian whom owns the last home on Ocean Avenue – repeatedly calling the police on him and threatened to take all of his backyard too. The precinct that serves this neighborhood is one of the most corrupt in the country assisting the crimes of many of the more prolific criminal residents. The media will not touch this story, nothing is ever reported on the crimes that take place in Manhattan Beach by the more notorious residents.

      Manhattan Beach is just not a safe are to live if you are a Christian – ask any of the ten remaining ones of the terrorisms they face before they ultimately leave. It isn’t quite as bad as what the first African American Family who bought in the neighborhood and was forced to sell after they were told their house would be burned to the ground if they stayed.

      This “developer” has designs to build a hotel on the former Esplanade, only needing a few more lots and a couple of political strings to pull. The other homeowners live in fear and know the politicians will not help them, the police are never called – they just have to keep quiet or face the fate of John Hockenjos who had his property stolen by a crooked developer with a phony deed who had the corrupt police arrest him and charged him with attempted murder – The poor man nearly went to prison for Seven years – but was saved by having had a security camera record the entire incident with police. Seven officers stood by and helped frame an innocent man. Only one was fired and convicted of any crime – but served a total of 24 hours in jail for framing an innocent man whom a crooked developer had stolen his property.

  5. Dr A. J. Lepere says:

    Just an aside, but the old telephone numbers in Coney Island had the prefix Esplanade (ES or now 37)!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.