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Drop Me a Line: 1915

Queens County, New York, circa 1915. "At Broad Channel -- fishing at your front door." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

Queens County, New York, circa 1915. "At Broad Channel -- fishing at your front door." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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The lady in white hooked a plankfish!

Take The "A" Train

Behind the houses, underneath and following the line of telegraph wires, is the Long Island Railroad Rockaway Line. The LIRR line across Jamaica Bay was closed after one of the wooden trestles burned down in the early 1950s. The abandoned right-of-way was acquired by the city and reopened in 1956 as an extension of the IND 8th Ave/Fulton St line. Originally serviced by the "HH" shuttle train the line is now served by the "A" train, providing a direct, mostly express, link to midtown Manhattan.


One day, Jake will clean out the basement.

Vacationing in waterfront slums

People willingly left their homes for this?

Big Egg Marsh

New York City Guide, 1939,
Federal Writers' Project.

The Jamaica Bay Islands, sprawled among the twenty square miles of shallow Jamaica Bay, are marshy flats on which about four thousand people dwell in comparative isolation within the corporate limits of New York City. All but two per cent live on Broad Channel island; the remainder are scattered over the Raunt and other tiny islands. Cross Bay Boulevard and the Long Island Railroad connect the region with the mainland and the Rockaways. …

The few islands that are above high tide were not permanently settled until about 1880s, when a fishing village was established on Big Egg Marsh (now known as Broad Channel). Here, before the city's open sewers contaminated Jamaica Bay, fluke, flounder, weakfish, oysters, and clams were abundant.

In 1925 Cross Bay Boulevard was built, beaches were developed, and a business district sprang up. At present a great many people stop at Broad Channel in the summer, and fish, mostly with improvised lines, from the two bridges at either end of the island. On the eastern side the shore dips and curves; here the cottages are whitewashed and trim. In other sections long rows of ramshackle buildings lean over the water on their uncertain stilts. Poverty and decay marks the dirt streets and battered houses whose gardens are decorated with mounds of bleached shells. Men in sailor caps and dungarees tinker with boats, and housewives may be seen working over kerosene stoves.

Suppose I'll have to clean that, too

Is our woman in the ruffled cap the family maid? The people around her are in a state of barely-suppressed hilarity, while she remains dour.

Breezy Point

on stilts.

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