It is a working class community that is bordered by Rockaway Park to the west and Arverne to the east. The Broad Channel American Park is right across the Cross Bay Bridge to the north. Unlike much of southern Queens, the Rockaway Peninsula is accessible via train on the A and S lines. Rockaway Beach is the largest “urban” beach in the US.
In the 1800s modern Rockaway Beach was two communities - Holland and Hammels. The plot of land had been bought by two wealthy businessmen who anticipated the expansion of the MTA subway system into the South Shore. Hammels even gave portions of his land to the city in order to build a railway station for Rockaway Peninsula.Find Rockaway Beach apartments
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In the 1900s, the once-wealthy community was opened via public transportation to new immigrants and new residents, which opened the door for tourists and new residents. For a time the Rockaway Beach area was known as “New York’s Playground”, and was more popular than Coney Island in Brooklyn. In the mid 20th century, the Marine Parkway Bridge to Brooklyn and the Cross Bay Bridge to the rest of Queens made Rockaway Beach the most accessible part of the peninsula. Slowly but surely, the transition from decadent resort town to convenient commuter residence was underway.
The modern-day Rockaway Beach community got its start as “Irish Riviera” in the early 20th century due to the large Irish American population in the neighborhood. Today Rockaway Beach is 60% white, 30% black, and 15% Hispanic, making it a surprisingly diverse neighborhood in Queens despite its remoteness. It is known for its boardwalk and for the large Hammel House projects that were built in the later 20th century to bring new residents into the area. Rockaway Beach remains a popular summer destination for Queens residents, and for surfers from Williamsburg, which has earned it the nickname “Williamsburg in Queens.” Popular eats include Rockaway Taco (a fan favorite), Thai Rock, Bungalow Bar & Restaurant, and Rippers.
Public schools in the elementary to junior high level are available in Rockaway Beach and in nearby communities on the peninsula, but there is no high school zoning. Students at the high school level must apply to schools.
Transportation to Rockaway Beach is surprisingly convenient. Both the A and the S lines make stops along the Rockaway Peninsula. Many buses pass through, including resort buses like the Rockabus. Drivers can easily access Queens via the Cross Bay Bridge and Brooklyn via the Marine Pkwy Bridge in Roxbury, further west.