My mission was simple in October 2018—I was going to walk the entire length of the Rockaway peninsula, from Riis Park all the way east to Far Rockaway. I nearly did the trick but I tired as I got to Edgemere and so, for the one and only time so far, I used an app to unlock a bike (not a CitiBike by the way) and I rode the rest of the way to Far Rockaway. For me, the most convenient thing was to take the Q22 from there all the way back to Rockaway Park and then get the Q53 back to Woodside, where I got the Long Island Rail Road back to Little Neck. When the schedule allows I can sometimes play the MTA schedule like a Stradivarius. Sometimes, I get beaten but sometimes, everything clicks.
In Edgemere, many of the blocks between the el train and the waterfront are still empty, with just dirt paths where the streets would be. From the boardwalk you get a good look at the concrete clad trestle that takes the A train for miles on the peninsula.
The Long Island RR came to the Rockaway peninsula early, in the 1880s, and the trains ran at grade, with street crossings, until 1942 when it was elevated. This structure, under which Rockaway Freeway runs, gives a glimpse at what elevated train construction may have looked like in NYC had it persisted into the 1940s. The city took over the tracks after a fire destroyed the LIRR Jamaica Bay bridge, reconstructing the bridge and connecting the A train. I wish we had that kind of ingenuity with old or abandoned train routes today.