by Kevin Walsh

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.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



14 Bus Route February 26, 2021 - 9:45 pm

Playing the schedule like a Stradivarius. Yeah! I did that once with the Beeline bus in central Westchester in the early 90s. I had 2 or 3 errands to run in widely separated places served by the system, thought it couldn’t be done in a reasonable time but had no choice but to try. It worked, that one time, transferring between routes at least three times in a short period, and even shuttling back against my overall direction to catch a connection. I can’t remember the details, but it worked! I felt like the prince of transit riders that day.

Andy Koeppel February 27, 2021 - 1:38 am

It would interesting to see some of the stations and major grade crossings before the 1940’s. It wcould create an interesting “then and now” format.

Nunzio February 27, 2021 - 10:56 pm

I second Andy’s suggestion! I’ve only ever seen one or two pics of the grade-level Rockaway tracks and stations (Probably on here!)- Extremely interesting- much like The Raunt (I know THAT’S been featured here at least once).

Jerry Friedman February 28, 2021 - 4:06 pm

You may need to do some digging here but has plenty I believe.

Nunzio March 5, 2021 - 11:38 am

Good idea, Jerry! “Trains are fun”- Thanks!

Patrick February 27, 2021 - 7:32 am

Haven’t ridden my bike on the Rockaway Freeway in ages. I recalled that there was a shanty town (Beach 30s or 40s streets maybe) between the tracks and the beach.

Tom M February 27, 2021 - 8:57 am

I remember in late 50’s, early 60’s, we would use the Beach 54th street parking lot. It was surrounded by bungalows, then still in use. they ran for many blocks. I guess after the city, in their infinite wisdom, condemned the area, it would give the appearance of a shanty town. Unofficially known as the “Irish Riviera”.

Patrick March 1, 2021 - 5:36 am

Thanks for sharing the memory. I didn’t venture to that area until the ’80s. Was probably a nice community like Breezy Point in it’s heyday. Sad that it was left to decay.

John February 27, 2021 - 2:29 pm

A train makes me think about the young man who got a key and took the A as a motorman from Bronx Yard to Far Rockaway.

chris brady February 27, 2021 - 4:26 pm

That looks very peaceful and idyllic.Wish there were more photos.

Andy February 27, 2021 - 7:30 pm

The Rockaway IND train viaduct was part of a larger project designed to eliminate a multitude of LIRR street grade crossings in Queens, principally along Atlantic Avenue between East New York and Richmond Hill. A new tunnel. opened in 1942, replaced the surface tracks along Atlantic Avenue, and eliminated a group of local LIRR stations (Clarenceville, Morris Park, and Dunton, for example). A new track connection joined the tunnel to the Rockaway Beach Branch at Woodhaven Junction, where a new underground LIRR station opened below Atlantic Ave. Similarly the numerous LIRR grade crossings in Rockaway were eliminated when the tracks were raised onto a viaduct, which was clad in concrete the prevent the salt air from deteriorating the steel support columns. The new roadway created below the tracks was named Rockaway Freeway, a faster east-west route than the older Rockaway Beach Blvd. and Beach Channel Drive.
Robert Moses was behind the entire project, with a primary intention of speeding up vehicular traffic on Atlantic Avenue, and on the Rockaway peninsula. Ironically, this Moses project helped mass transit, because the Rockaway LIRR viaduct was designed for easy conversion for subway use. The 1950 fire that destroyed one thousand feet of the LIRR trestle atop Jamaica Bay was indeed the catalyst that led to the A train being extended to Rockaway in 1956.

Peter February 28, 2021 - 10:47 pm

“A new tunnel. opened in 1942, replaced the surface tracks along Atlantic Avenue … a new track connection joined the tunnel to the Rockaway Beach Branch at Woodhaven Junction, where a new underground LIRR station opened below Atlantic Ave.”

A station which lasted barely 20 years 🙁

Andy March 1, 2021 - 11:06 pm

Believe the LIRR Woodhaven Station was closed in 1972 – but still used for only 30 years. It’s still there in the LIRR tunnel, abandoned and quiet.

Ed Greenberg April 10, 2021 - 10:45 am

Back in about 1970, I walked the boardwalk from it’s start (end?) in Belle Harbor, all the way to Beach 44th Street. I was 15. My grandparents lived on B124th, and I was bored. I started to walk. When I got to B44, I took the subway back to 116th St, even though it was 75c to get on, and another!!!! 75c to get off. At 15, in 1970, a dollar-fifty was significant.

It was a good walk. Must have been very close to a Jewish holiday, but not actually ON one, or I wouldn’t have been carrying any money, and I couldn’t have taken the subway,anyway. What is odd is that I was wearing a jacket and tie and a dress raincoat. Why? Well, it was 51 years ago, and I don’t recall anything else.


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