Rockaway Beach Seeing Community Revival

ROCKAWAY BEACH, NY (CBS 2) — Rockaway Beach in Queens has long been written off by many as a community in decline, but now things are looking up.

There’s plenty of action on Rockaway Beach and its boardwalk, just a cool subway ride away from Manhattan without hassle of  the Hamptons or its prices.

“We don’t have $5 cups of coffee here. You can come here and get a real cup of coffee that you can afford, you don’t have to take out a home mortgage to eat,” said Rockaway community board manager John Gaska.

Many who remember Rockaway Beach’s rough reputation are now putting a cautious toe back in its waters and they like what they see.

“I think it’s nicer than I thought it would be,” said Michaeal Schaff. “I was expecting it to be more crowded, maybe a little more trash on the beach, but it’s really nice.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect and we came out and the beach looked perfect,” said Prasanna Subramanian.

“It looks a lot more happening than what I heard about when I was a kid,” said Matt Caesar.

There are new restaurants in town and along the boardwalk as Brooklyn restaurant owners branch out with new takes on beach food.

Rippers offers fresh juice drinks and grass-fed beef burgers. “People are really happy to have choices, healthy choices, better choices,” said owner Michelle Cortez.

Rockaway Beach’s comeback began with the influx of surfers after the city allowed surfing in two areas. Soon, others followed.

“As surfers, we’re hoping that the city sees that the surfing community can develop a community,” said Steve Stathis. “We hope that they recognize us and they give us more beaches to surf on.”

Developers took notice and new oceanfront condos are selling briskly.

“They come down here, their blood pressure drops by 20 points and they can breathe a little easier and they say this is really what life is supposed to be about,” said developer Michael Kerris.

Some old timers like what they see.

“Very good changes, new buildings and the situation is much safer, much better,” said Vladimir Rosenstein.

Some locals are happy to show day-trippers around but they say you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. “We keep the secret spots to our selves, locals only,” said John Guierrez.

Many locals say they don’t worry about outsiders changing Rockaway Beach’s spirit, that it is still true to its humble roots. But they say it well deserves its day in the sun.

There’s one other big plus. All seven miles of Rockaway Beach is free.

  • sick of it

    I LIVE DOWN IN ROCKAWAY AND THE BLACK PEOPLE & Mentally ILL ruin the beach for everyone from the drinkin to the drug use , the N WORD being yelled every other word defecating wherever they please its disgusting it justs gets worse out here

  • Peg o' my heart

    I’m glad to hear about Rockaway’s revival. Rockaway Beach is where my mother grew up and met my father and where her heart will always be. I love you Mom and miss you — I know that you’re happy with the comeback of your beach.

  • Moved to New Jersey

    I was a ( white) resident and surfer of Rockaway in the 60’s and 70’s and I witnessed first hand the tension of a neighborhood caught “in between” and in transition. The Rockaway I knew was uncomfortable with the black integration of the peninsula from the east ( Far Rockaway, Hammels, etc) while it bumped up against the more prosperous Belle Harbour to the west. In between, the long time residents resented the socioeconomic squeeze that they were experiencing and the area became a hot bed of white resentment. Witness the “race riots” that took place around Beach 98 street in the 60’s when the tactical police force were often called in and the modest KKK cell that was reported in the late 70’s via the Post. I personally witnessed several vicious racial fights at the time and I was ashamed to tell people where I grew up.
    I personally found the area at the time to be intolerant of diversity, small minded and one that fostered bigotry. I am encouraged that the area seems to be turning a corner and that bigotry will die a quick death.
    Having lived in a diverse New Jersey community for the last 25 years, I am proud to say that I have been a part of a vibrant community where people support one another and don’t really care for the petty differences of race, religion or ethnicity. I still hold that hope for my hometown!

  • nathan

    We went out to RB last summer and were pleasantly surprised. Any recommendations on good local eats?

  • Frockaway booster

    And don’t forget to check out the upscale shopping scene in Far Rockaway, at the end of the A train

  • mo greene

    for all the tourists- if you plan to go to rockaway beach, make sure you visit beach 54, hammel and redfern, make sure you bring your wallets with you, there is plenty to do there and it always helps to keep plenty of cash on hand.

    • abe bagoda

      you are right, if you go there at the right time of year, you get to see hammel and redfern put on their own reenactment of the hatfield and mccoy fueds, instead of rifles, they use mac 10’s, don’t worry though, the bullets aren’t real, and remember to bring your wallet.

  • Very conservative

    Even 0.15% makes it undesirable.

  • Diesel67

    Take your bigotry and shove it up your ass. I ran on the Coney Island boardwalk today and did not see one bullet. Just people having a good time, and very few men were waddling around like pregnant women.

  • Jae Edwards

    Ya know i grew up here in the 60’s an 70’s and not once did Race come into play we all got along an we all hung out an you never heard someone call anyone the “N” word no matter what there skin color was. The Rockaways was a great place until Urban Renewal became the rage. Then they tore down anything they could with the excuses were gonna do this an do that. As you know that never happened an areas became weed infested an trash infested lots. The rockaways became the joke of NY due to this. So to see there making changes for the better is good news just sad it took 30+ years for them to see the good that was left in the rockaways…

  • josh

    we just need to build alot more prisons and keep the blacks in for longer. your tax dollars hard at work, and protecting you as well

    • Jae Edwards

      Ya know Josh it’s funny how you can point a finger an blame one race for all the problems of the rockaways. Maybe if you grew up in the 60’s an 70’s in Rockaways you would have a better understanding of what happened there. But seems you didnt so you point the blame at blacks cause it’s easier. How about the rest of the population that lived in the rockaways do you think they were all saints too. Not a chance. Everyone had a hand in this decline not just one race. An just so you know im White an have many friends of many races from rockaways. So your “Whites are taking there heads out of the sand” is a joke. Think you have your head in the wrong place.

  • josh

    thirton speaks the truth and….shockingly…gets called a racist or bigot. no big deal these words mean nothing anymore anyway. whites are taking their head out of the sand and opening their eyes. blacks over represebnted in every area of violent crime, prison systems, social programs. gee, you mean the blacks on mtv are not the real blakcs in the world….duh…. violent race

  • crankyankee

    And it doesn’t hep when low class bigots like you, “thirthton whatever” make up the other 85%.

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