Seven soaring shots of Queens’ past: Our Neighborhood, The Way it Was

An aerial shot of the Rockaway Peninsula near Riis Park, taken in the 1940s.
Photos courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives, reprinted with permission

Summer officially begins at 11:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21, and for many in Queens, thoughts turn to spending days at the beaches of Rockaway, stepping over hot sand, basking in the even hotter sun and finding cool relief with a dip in the Atlantic.

We have two images of the Rockaways from the past that readers in Our Neighborhood will enjoy. Both of these are aerial shots taken during the 1940s.

The featured image above shows the communities of Neponsit and Belle Harbor. If you look carefully, at the left, you can see the oval-shaped parking lot of Jacob Riis Park. One of the largest parking lots in the borough, thousands parked their vehicles there while enjoying a day at the beach, which is today part of the Gateway National Recreational Area.

Just to the right of the parking lot is the twin spires of the Marine Parkway Bridge, the vertical lift span connecting the Rockaway Peninsula with Brooklyn. The bridge would later be renamed for former Mets manager Gil Hodges, who lived in Brooklyn during his playing years with the then-Brooklyn Dodgers.

The next aerial photo we have shows what was once the toll booth of the Cross Bay Bridge, connecting Broad Channel and the Rockaways. This image shows the original drawbridge span during the 1940s; thirty years later, it would be replaced with a fixed span.

The toll remains on the Cross Bay Bridge, although recently, it was announced that all Queens residents would be eligible for rebates after crossing the span. Perhaps someday, the toll — like the drawbridge shown above — will be a thing of the past.

Along with these great images of the Rockaway’s past, here are five more amazing photos of Queens from long ago. We again are grateful to the NYC Municipal Archives for allowing us access to these incredible images. The Archives are home to hundreds of thousands of historic photos and documents telling the story of our city the way it was.

This photo taken on March 24, 1930 shows the southwest corner of Queens Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Elmhurst. The Gulf gas station is long gone, replaced by various storefronts.


The Jonathan Furman House on Furmanville Avenue and Dry Harbor Roads was one of the many farmhouses that once lined the Middle Village landscape. This photo of the house, taken on Aug. 30, 1927, shows a horse grazing on the front lawn.


Sometimes it seems like the traffic on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside has been there since time immemorial. While that isn’t true, this June 5, 1930 photo shows a number of cars lining the busy road under the elevated Flushing Line near Woodside Avenue.


Take heart, Queens commuters; you’re not the only ones who had to endure long waits for buses. This photo taken during rush hour on June 3, 1943 shows a long line of people waiting at a bus stop on the northern side of Queens Boulevard near Union Turnpike in Forest Hills.


Finally, this Depression-era photo shows the store fronts along the eastern side of Fresh Pond Road at Putnam Avenue in Ridgewood as of July 13, 1937.

We again thank the NYC Municipal Archives for their help in making this happen. For more images like these, visit https://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet.

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If you have any remembrances or old photographs of “Our Neighborhood: The Way It Was” that you would like to share with our readers, please write to the Old Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361, or send an email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com. Any print photographs mailed to us will be carefully returned to you upon request.