Arverne is a fascinating part of Queens, New York, characterized by its stunning seaside location. Today, it is enjoying a resurgence as modern developments like Arverne By The Sea breathe new life into this wonderful stretch of shore adjacent to the famous Rockaway Beach. Here’s a look at Arverne over the years:
1685 to 1833
The First New Yorkers Arrive on Rockaway Peninsula
In 1685, Captain John Palmer signed a treaty to purchase Rockaway Peninsula, which was Mohawk Nation territory – a Mohican tribe called the Canarsees. Richard Cornell and his descendants would farm the land until 1833; the family farmhouse stood near present-day Beach 20th Street in Arverne. The land later changed hands to investors from the Rockaway Association, including John Leake Norton, who built the Marine Pavilion hotel.
1872 to 1899
New Roads Lead to Arverne
In 1872 the South Side Railroad extended its Far Rockaway Branch Railroad to Beach 103rd Street. Accessible transportation made the Rockaway Peninsula attractive for residential development. At that time, the first construction in the area were small wooden houses. Remington Vernam and the Ocean Front Improvement Company began developing the area. The name, Arverne, was suggested by Vernam’s wife, who derived the name from the legible part of his signature, “R. Vern.” In 1886 Rockaway Beach Boulevard was completed. Gaston Avenue station opened in 1887. Arverne-by-the-Sea was incorporated in 1895, and officially became part of New York City during the 1898 city consolidation.
1904 to 1914
Development and Destruction
The Germania Hotel, built in the 1890s, was one of the first hotels in Arverne. Tragically, it would burn down in the fire of 1904, which swept through Arverne, also destroying the Columbia and Waldorf Hotels. Further acts of force majeure would also impede progress: the storm of 1914 which washed away the Arverne Pier Theatre (formally at Beach 67th Street by the shore), and a fire on June 15, 1922 that destroyed 150 buildings.
The 1920s to the 1940s
Arverne Enjoys a Touristic Renaissance
Many iconic Arverne institutions were built during the decades that followed, including the famous amusement park Rockaway Playland – complete with roller coasters – which opened in 1928 between Beach 97th and Beach 101st. The Marine Parkway Bridge opened in 1937. By the late 1930s and early 1940s Arverne was again a full-fledged summer destination, with over 100 hotels and as many as a million visitors strolling along the boardwalk (which stretched five miles by the 1940s) each summer.
Urban Renewal in Arverne
In 1965 Arverne was designated an Urban Renewal Area, and by 1969 the Department of City Planning decided to breathe new life into this little bit of paradise, clearing the area to make way for all-season regional and local recreatio¬nal developments and large-scale housing projects as per the Plan for New York City.
The 1980s through the early 2000s
Arverne Development Gains Momentum
In 1988 the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest,” in search of developers and designers for Arverne. In 2000, a Request for Proposals was issued to develop 100 acres to the west of the Urban Renewal Area, which was awarded to the Benjamin Development Company Inc., The Beechwood Organization, and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects. Their vision was to create a series of “distinct and walkable neighborhoods,” integrated by public spaces.
2002 to Now
The Era of Arverne By The Sea
The distinguished Arverne By The Sea development broke ground in 2002, and is the area’s most popular new oceanfront residential development.
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