Of course, nobody wants to sleep with the fish, but it is fun to check them out in their natural habitat for a few hours every now and then. Summer is whale- and dolphin-watching season in Queens, and American Princess Cruises offers four-hour trips from the Rockaways through local waterways to observe the marine ecosystem as well as seabirds, turtles, seals and other aquatic creatures…and hopefully spot a whale or dolphin. According to the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, about 25 whale species — including fin, humpback, and sperm — and bottlenose dolphins swim in New York City and Long Island waters during the warm weather months.
Kevin Walsh and I were chatting recently, and it was decided that we should go out to the Rockaways and do a bit of exploring. We agreed to not reference a certain song as well. Leaving from Astoria, an R Line train carried me to 59 Lex, and that’s where I transferred to the 5 Line. The 5 took me the end of the run, nearby Brooklyn College at the so called Flatbush Junction. That’s where Mr. Walsh and I had arranged to meet, which was accomplished, and we boarded the Q35 bus toward Rockaway. All told, the trip from Steinway Street in Astoria to the southern border of Brooklyn and Queens took a little more than an hour and 20 minutes.
That really isn’t bad, I have to say, bravo MTA.
We debarked the bus just shy of our goal, on the Brooklyn side of the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge. The span’s birthday is coming up on July 3rd — read more about the structure in this Q’stoner post from January of this year.
This is a pretty scary place to be a pedestrian crossing the road, I have to say. Luckily, the plucky spirit of my companion buoyed me up. Our intention, upon crossing the very end of Flatbush Avenue, was to stroll across the bridge and photograph both it and the surrounding scenery… but…
Unfortunately 911 era signage adorns the thing, carrying one of those meaningless and unconstitutional missives which attempted to equate photography of the public space with terrorist activity. This is an MTA bridge, by the way, but you see this sort of signage on TBTA and Port Authority properties as well. I won’t get into the whole “War on Photography” rant, but you can’t expect to restrict access to reflected light.
Shame on you MTA.
Luckily, on the Queens side of the bridge, the structure reveals itself from the public thoroughfare. Kevin and I marveled as the lift bridge was activated just as we started encountering beach sand on the sidewalks.
There was quite a bit of shoreline reconstruction going on just at the foot of the bridge. The presence and effects of Hurricane Sandy are everywhere you look in the Rockaways, although some areas we encountered are clearly FAR worse off than others.
As much as I love LIC, a fellow has to spread his wings now and then, and wet his beak.
I grew up in south eastern Brooklyn, in particular the Flatlands and Canarsie area. Our nearest neighbors in Queens were in Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula villages of Rockaway and Breezy Point. A significant portion of my wastrel youth was spent riding an Apollo 3 speed bicycle along the coastlines of Jamaica Bay and it’s various inlets, as I’ve always been drawn to the water by some primeval urge. Whenever the chance presented itself, I would ride my bike over to Rockaway Beach via a bridge found on the less commonly travelled side of Flatbush Avenue.
Much of this coastline is administered today as “Gateway National Park,” incidentally, which sounds a lot better than “Horsehead Bay,” I guess.
Gateway National Recreation Area is a 26,607-acre (10,767 ha) National Recreation Area in the Port of New York and New Jersey. Scattered over Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, New York and Monmouth County, New Jersey, it provides recreational opportunities that are rare for a dense urban environment, including ocean swimming, bird watching, boating, hiking and camping. Ten million people visit Gateway annually.
Gateway was created by the US Congress in 1972 to preserve and protect scarce and/or unique natural, cultural, and recreational resources with relatively convenient access by a high percentage of the nation’s population. It is owned by the United States government and managed by the National Park Service.
New York’s State Senate will likely waive some construction approvals to hasten rebuilding at Breezy Point, which was devastated by fire during Superstorm Sandy, the Daily News reported. Last month, the State Assembly passed the measure, which lets homeowners to skip approval from a city panel if they have sprinkler systems and don’t extend properties into the street. The Bloomberg administration also supports the move. The Breezy Point Cooperative said it will reduce construction time by six to 12 months.
It’s a chance to make history, star in a movie and live on in perpetuity. Dan Hendrick, who is currently working on the documentaryJamaica Bay Lives, and the Queens Memory Project are looking for people to share their stories, photos, mementos and thoughts on the neighborhoods stretching from Howard Beach through the Rockaways to Breezy Point. On April 24, Hendrick and QMP partners Queens College and Queens Library will be interviewing past and current area residents during Jamaica Bay Community History Night at the Broad Channel Branch Library. Hendrick noted that this is the chance to preserve local history before it becomes a fuzzy memory. He added that Hurricane Sandy has added a whole new chapter to this project.
First of all, it’s really not that cold. Second, it’s for a great cause. And most importantly, the party afterward is rip-roarin’ fun. On February 2, participants will gather by the Colony Theater in Breezy Point and then charge into the water as part of the 13th annual Rockaway Plunge. Not only is this a perfect opportunity to have some fun in the Rockaways after a few difficult months, the event also raises funds for the Breezy Point Relief Foundation, the Parishes of the Rockaways and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. There’s a heartwarming aspect to this year’s event as local resident Annie McMahon will be celebrating her Sweet Sixteen party. After she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, Annie’s parents, John and Teresa McMahon, organized the first Rockaway Plunge.
500 Bayside Drive (first right after gatehouse), Breezy Point
Saturday, February 2
1pm – 2pm | A $50 donation is recommended for non-swimmers. Swimmers qualify for free admission to the after party. Goody bag with a minimum of $75 in sponsorships.
Curbed, in their Camera Obscura column, had Nathan Kensigner head to the Rockaway Peninsula to take some photos of the area after Hurricane Sandy. His work is always excellent, and this report is no different. It’s a surreal landscape now, and in the words of one Edgemere resident, “It’s like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from.”
The NY Times has a piece on the Breezy Point Madonna, the only thing left that is recognizable from the neighborhood before Hurricane Sandy; the rest is charred remnants of over 100 homes. This fire was one of the most devastating results of an overall devastating experience on the Rockaway peninsula, and was the largest of three fires that broke out in the Rockaways during the hurricane.