Saving the Rockaways

Perhaps I am dating myself…BUT…When I was just a kid growing up in the Rockaways...


Perhaps I am dating myself…BUT…When I was just a kid growing up in the Rockaways, my mother and I would board the Long Island Railroad every Saturday for an hour trip into Manhattan for ballet classes and for Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s concerts at Carnegie Hall. 

The closest thing we had to culture was the Friday night PAL (Police Athletic League) dances and three movie theaters, all of which are long gone. Central Avenue, as we knew it, is now a ghost village.

If could go back there, I would build an art center like the one they have on Fifth Avenue in Pelham where restaurants thrive next door to arts classes and exhibitions.  Or, maybe I’d buy the old RKO Strand and turn it into an art cinema like Jacob Burns with films, lectures and personal appearances of people who make the movies.  Perhaps the old Pix Theater could be a music hall like the one they have in Tarrytown or like the Paramount in Peekskill.

Or, I could consider how the old Saint Joseph’s Hospital might have survived as an Eric Larabee Barnes designed museum like the Katonah Museum of Art. Alas, there are no museums in the Rockaways.  There aren’t any hospitals either. 

Actually, the old Chase Manhattan Bank there is a dead ringer for the one ArtsWestchester turned into a gallery on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. I think about it often.  If only I knew then what I know now, I might have saved Far Rockaway.

While it may be too late for the Rockaways, the arts have done wonders for life in Westchester.

Read about the immense impact the arts have had on the county here: www.artswestchester.org/2011-study-underscores-importance-of-the-arts-to-westchesters-economy/18823, and write to your elected officials to urge them to support the arts here: www.artswestchester.org/get-involved/save-the-arts/county-legislature

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

PC Lover December 12, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Actually there are two hospitals in the Rockaways....St. John's on Beach 19th St in Far Rockaway, and Peninsula Hospital on Beach Channel Drive.
mike berardino December 14, 2011 at 04:05 PM
i was born there, Belle Harbor, went to Church where the plane crashed a few years ago, loved the beach, playing stickball, outdoor hoops, the Good Humor man, hanging out on 129th and 116 Streets where my immigrant grandfathers were a shoemaker and bricklayer...my parents moved 20 miles east to Nassau County in the mid fifties simllar to lower Westchester and Bronx people migrating north to here and Putnam.. Mike Berardino


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