I recently walked/bicycled the length of the Rockaway Peninsula boardwalk. It cones in two separate sections: the boardwalk at Riis Park and beach, and the eastern section, formally called Ocean Promenade, which runs from Beach 126th Street to Beach 9th Street. I will be featuring what I found in FNY and in SpliceToday.
The Riis Park recreational area is located immediately east of Fort Tilden and was named for crusading journalist and photographer Jacob Riis (1849-1914) who made his home in Richmond Hill, Queens, beginning in 1886. In 1887, Riis photographed the squalid, inhumane conditions prevalent in New York City’s tenements, and his 1890 book “How The Other Half Lives” has become an influential text to the present day. His cause was taken up by Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who encouraged legislation that would help ease the burden of NYC’s poorest.
Riis Park was one of NYC’s first formal seaside parks after Coney Island became well-established; it was developed by Robert Moses around 1932. Riis Park’s 1930s bath house and boardwalk clock are both landmarked, and the park features a truly immense parking lot; only the one at Orchard Beach in the Bronx rivals it.
Today I’ll mention the Art Moderne-style boardwalk lamps, which I imagine date to the park’s beginnings. They currently carry 1980s-era Holophane sodium lamp “buckets” but I remember them with incandescent Gumballs. The Orchard Beach boardwalk in the Bronx also features these, and that makes sense sith both beaches were developed in the same era.
The 1939-40 Flushing Meadows World’s Fair also had marvelous Moderne poles, seen especially at the IND subway stop abandoned soon after the park closed. I’m glad we still have flocks of these survivors.
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