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Day 1272

The beach and the bridge

June 24th, 2015



This little stretch of private beach (running about 100 feet along the shore to the left of the sign) at the southern end of Beach 3rd Street in Far Rockaway is owned by a neighborhood group called the Simis Beach Civic Association. Bordering Nassau County, it's the southeasternmost piece of dry land in NYC. (City property, however, extends another 400 feet or so out into the water from the mean high tide line. The roped-in swimming area above is actually public water.)

Standing in the background of this photo, on the Nassau County side of the border, is the Atlantic Beach Bridge, which opened to allow the sailboat at right to pass through. Completed in 1952, the bridge connects the Long Island mainland with the seaside village of Atlantic Beach. It's the only toll bridge, or toll facility of any kind, in Nassau and Suffolk counties (the non-NYC part of Long Island), and I believe it's one of only two toll facilities in the state that still have not installed an E-ZPass electronic collection system. (The other, the Thousand Islands Bridge, is currently working toward implementing E-ZPass.) The toll on the Atlantic Beach Bridge is $2 for a car; up until 1997, bikers and pedestrians were also charged to cross the bridge. Their toll? 5 cents!

The agency created to build and operate the bridge, the Nassau County Bridge Authority, is a notorious, self-perpetuating instrument of political patronage that is run "not as a business, but as a base to keep a relative handful of people in jobs that are largely make-work". A 1999 audit found that 71% of the toll revenue was being used to pay the salaries of the toll takers and the administrative staff; in other words, most of the toll collections are used to fund the collection of the tolls. (I think I'm starting to understand why the authority is not in favor of E-ZPass.)

The authority and the bridge toll were supposed to be eliminated once the bonds issued to fund construction of the bridge were paid off. And they have now been paid off — for more than 40 years. According to the former head of the Nassau County District Attorney's Special Investigations Bureau, the authority "only existed to make sure the money was paid back, but every time it was close to paying off its indebtedness, it would borrow more money".

You might think this situation would cause an outcry among the wealthy residents of Atlantic Beach, but many of them, who buy a yearly decal that lets them cross the bridge at a significantly reduced rate, are reportedly in favor of maintaining the toll. They feel that it makes their community more exclusive and serves as a deterrent against all the unsavory characters from the city who might otherwise come over and stink up the joint. From a 1996 NY Times article:

Some residents are said to make disparaging racial remarks about "those people" coming over the bridge. . . .

"We do not mind paying a reasonable toll," said Barry Ringelheim, president of the Atlantic Beach Estates Civic Association. "People feel it's a protection. God forbid somebody will come over to rob and have to go back over the bridge and be seen" by toll collectors.

Day 1272

Snazzy old sign

June 24th, 2015


Day 1272

A missing message

June 24th, 2015



"THAT THOSE WHO PERISHED SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN"

So read the plaque that was formerly mounted on this monument, a war memorial erected by the local Jewish War Veterans post. I have no idea what happened to the plaque, but I do know that it was still in place less than three years ago. It's clearly visible in this Street View image from August 2012, and I'm fairly certain I can spot it from a distance in the center of this January 2013 image.

Day 1272

Metroplex on the Atlantic

June 24th, 2015



Towering over the neighboring Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District, this vacant 15-story, 126-unit beachfront apartment building — the Metroplex on the Atlantic — has led a troubled life.

2006: Construction was halted for months when the developers were sued by Richard George, the litigious head of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association, for building on top of an easement that ran down the middle of the block and provided residents of the block's interior bungalows with their own passageway toward the beach. Gary Rosen, a lawyer for the developers, told the NY Times that the delays were costing his client $3,000 per day and were threatening to bankrupt the project — "He's already cost my client more money than those bungalows are worth." Mr. Rosen said he was countersuing Mr. George and would "take all the bungalows if I win . . . Most of them are garbage anyway. They're shacks."

2007: State inspectors determined that the Metroplex was, in violation of a previous order, being erected within 100 feet of a coastal erosion hazard area. While dismantling a third-floor balcony that had been illegally constructed, a worker not wearing a safety harness fell 25 feet to the ground and "sustained internal injuries".

2010: The developers defaulted on their mortgage payments and the lender began foreclosure proceedings.

2014: The state attorney general sued the developers for "persistent fraudulent and illegal practices" — including a rent-to-buy scheme that concealed the building's perilous finances from the would-be homeowners.

UPDATE (Nov. 3, 2016): Now known as Ocean Blue, the former Metroplex has reopened under new owners as a rental building. It's so depressing reading these real estate articles; they're full of soulless quotes from people promoting their buildings with meaningless claims ("truly offers a lifestyle unlike any other building") and false information. According to Ocean Blue's "exclusive agent", quoted in the article linked above:

My favorite thing about Rockaway would have to be its centralized location. One of the reasons Ocean Blue has gotten so full so quickly is because it's so close to just about anything you want. You're close to Long Island and Manhattan, the Five Towns, JFK airport, St. Johns Hospital.

Ocean Blue (is) eight blocks from the Atlantic Beach Bridge, and so close to Manhattan you have a perfect view of the skyline from your terrace.
"Its centralized location"? This building is about as un-central as it gets in NYC. It's located in the southeastern corner of Queens, farther from Manhattan than anywhere else in the city outside of southern Staten Island.

"Eight blocks from the Atlantic Beach Bridge"? For one thing, being close to that bridge, located just over the city line in Nassau County, means that you're a long way from Manhattan. You can't be close to one without being far from the other. Additionally, the eight blocks assertion is simply untrue. Take a look at a map. The streets out here aren't on a regular grid, so measuring distances in terms of blocks is tricky and kind of pointless, but I'd say a reasonable estimate would have to be at least 15 blocks. Why even bother lying about this? Is proximity to a bridge that leads from one beach to another beach such a big selling point? It wouldn't seem to be as important as, say, the distance to the closest subway station, which the building's website falsely claims is five blocks. (It's about ten in reality.) While we're on the subject of the building's website, I should note that the home page is currently advertising apartments with "1 BEBROOMS" and also ones with "2 BEBROOMS".

"Perfect view of the skyline from your terrace"? First of all, that presumes that your apartment is at least a few floors up and has a terrace that looks out on Manhattan. And even if that is the case, I doubt you'll find your view of the skyline "perfect". Here's a photo of the view from the building's website. Can you spot the slightest hint of a Manhattan skyscraper? In person, the Lower Manhattan skyline, about 15 miles away, would be visible, though very distant, immediately to the left of the Seaview Towers, those twin dark-brick high-rise apartment buildings just right of center in the middle distance. The Midtown skyline, on the other hand, is obscured from view with almost comical precision by the Seaview Towers building on the right. Looking at the larger picture, however, I'd say the overall view from the upper floors of Ocean Blue is quite impressive, so why lie about features it doesn't have?

Day 1272




Part of the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District

Day 1272

TP on the sidewalk

June 24th, 2015



As we've seen, the Minnesota Method (covering newly applied pavement sealant with toilet paper while it cures) has started to take hold in NYC.




Of the more than 7,000 beach bungalows built on the Rockaway Peninsula in the early decades of the 20th century, fewer than 700 are still standing (photos). One of the largest remaining clusters is the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District, which comprises about a hundred surviving bungalows on Beach 24th through Beach 26th Streets.

Day 1272

$2,000 a week?

June 24th, 2015



Pathetic. I can learn how to make $4,000 a week with this far superior DVD.

Day 1272

Life beside the A train

June 24th, 2015


Day 1272

Portal of the day

June 24th, 2015



PS 43

Day 1272

Speaking of roses…

June 24th, 2015


Day 1272

Rose-draped watercraft

June 24th, 2015


Day 1272

Elemeno P

June 24th, 2015



Thanks to this license plate, I just learned the name of a rock group from New Zealand whose "straight-arrow, energetic, power-pop anthems" made the band "household favourites across the nation".

Day 1272

Sandy Road

June 24th, 2015



This innocuously named beachside street in the Rockaways now inadvertently memorializes a mortal enemy.

Day 1272

A boardwalk-level look

June 24th, 2015



at the wilds of Arverne East