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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » MGT: more on Rockaway Ferry in NYC, bad news

   
Author Topic: MGT: more on Rockaway Ferry in NYC, bad news
sojourner
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Bad news: In a big snafu (see today's NY Times editorial), 11 blocks of Rockaway Beach has been closed due to beach erosion. This won't affect ferries I recommended but could make beaches that ARE open there more crowded. Though 11 blocks isn't THAT much, it is in a popular part of the beach.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Here is a link to The Times and Fair Use quotation from the Editorial noted by Ms. Sojourner:

New York Times

Fair Use:
  • In the meantime, the city should find a way to get more sand onto the beach to save next year’s summer season and provide a layer of temporary protection for the peninsula’s communities. Doing so would cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million. City officials say that would be too complicated and costly for a stopgap measure. But the city is flush with cash and expected to approve a near-$90 billion budget next month. It can afford to protect one of the few beaches New Yorkers can reach with only the cost of a MetroCard.

    It was just three years ago that elected officials gathered excitedly on the first piece of the newly rebuilt Rockaway Boardwalk, congratulating themselves on building the city’s waterfront back stronger and more resilient in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Protecting that investment should be a priority for New York’s elected officials. So should preserving the simple summer joy of taking the A train straight to a sandy piece of paradise.

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sojourner
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Thanks for posting this, Mr Norman. The A train (another way to get to the Rockaways, besides the ferry) is a long but pretty cool ride past Howard Beach through Broad Channel on the "trestle" (though going through some dicey areas in Brooklyn, I don't think there's trouble by day--though I would dress down if taking it!). Most A trains go to Far Rockaway, with Rockaway stops only from Beach 60s to lower numbers; you have to change (I think in Broad Channel) for the Rockaway Park shuttle if you want to go to higher beach numbers (better areas) as in Rockaway Park (closer to the ferry stop) but I think in rush hour there are some A trains that go to Rockaway Park without a change necessary. Broad Channel is kinda interesting itself, an island community for people who don't mind being flooded and love their boats, been decades since I've been there but it used to be a kind of a low-rent Breezy Point, or similar to but not as nice as City Island in the Bronx.

Here is a link to a very fine youtube of a segment about the A train to Rockaway that Rachel Maddow did just after Superstorm Sandy--good shots of the trestle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPbKpHwXNtk
I recall the reason she did it is because she is friendly with the columnist E J Dionne, who grew up summering in Breezy Point in the Rockaways and was deeply upset by the Sandy damage there; I don't think she herself has any connection to the area.

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mgt
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I have just watched the youtube clip. Looks exciting. I register your comment about "dicey areas in Brooklyn". If we made the trip I presume there would be three of us and none of us are what you would call affluent looking or snazzy dressers; our friend is from San Francisco. My wife is very averse to risk taking but we have never felt in any way at danger in the US, neither in New York nor elsewhere. We use common sense, would not venture into dodgy areas, especially at night and I suppose that is all you can do. At the weekend we were in an east Midlands town here in the UK felt quite uneasy there, with a fair proportion of rowdy youth and homeless. I would say it is our experience that there is much less panhandling in the UK than in the US.
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sojourner
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Mind you, one has to go through a lot of Brooklyn before getting to the exciting bits! You could take the ferry round trip and not worry about it; depends on how curious you are to see the "trestle." BTW, I believe it was originally built by the Long Island Railroad, who did not want to keep it and instead ended the line in Far Rockaway, whereupon the subway system took it over. (But I could be wrong; too lazy to check.) I do know that for a very long time the subway system charged a double fare to go out past Howard Beach, I think to pay for the takeover but am not sure. They finally did away with that when the regular fares got higher.

Re pan handlers--hmmm, I think there are plenty here in the US, esp the West Coast; Denver and Seattle (in warmer weather), for example. Also quite a few again in Washington DC. But it isn't them who would bother you . . . I don't know, I haven't been on the A train in that direction in a long time, in the daytime it's probably fine. I meet plenty of younger people who take the subway to Rockaway to go surfing and don't have any problem, and it will be summer when you go. Oh, but I bet the surfers will be very pissed about those beach closures, even though I think they prefer the Beach 80s or 70s for surfing (the closures are in the 90s, lots of businesses there affected)!

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DonNadeau
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I've taken that A train to Rockaway on a weekday and it was well populated all the way. To me, a key to urban safety is being among other people going about their business.

If people detrain in mass at a station you can too. I also recommend siting in a car in the middle, as the transit police may pass you more frequently.

My one disappointment is that the line stayed underground longer than I expected. Many Brooklyn and Queens lines operate elevated much of the time.

Once we popped up, a highlight was passing the home of a President Trump supporter in Queens thumbing its nose at its liberal neighbors.

The property was surrounded by American flags and the home festooned with Trump posters.

Gotta love it. [Smile]

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mgt
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That is reassuring. I agree that looking into other people's backgardens is one of the joys of urban rail travel. The London "Underground" is ideal for this. I must admit we have been surprised at the amount of litter, particularly discarded household goods, to be found by the tracks as Amtrak trains approach cities. Plus of course, the homeless shacks. We probably do not see these in Britain because of the rigid separation of the permanent way from the surrounding area.
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sojourner
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I believe the subway comes above ground after Grant Avenue, beginning with the 80th Street Station in Brooklyn. However, the Trump supporter was more likely a few stops further down the line, in Howard Beach; visibility of homes from the train would be better there, and Howard Beach is famous for two racial attacks against black men so there would be plenty of Trump supporters there. I'm sorry I don't know how to make an appropriate emoticon.
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Ocala Mike
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Howard Beach/Ozone Park = Gotti supporters too.

Yes, the line to Rockaway Park across Jamaica Bay was originally a LIRR electric line; I rode it in the 50's to the western terminal at Beach 110th St.

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sojourner
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Here is a link to a possibly interesting article on the Rockaways. Note the villainies of Robert Moses!

https://www.6sqft.com/from-the-queens-riviera-to-robert-moses-the-history-of-rockaway-beach/

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mgt
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I found that link very interesting. We live in a seaside conurbation about four miles long, north to south, twelve miles from Newcastle on Tyne, one of the homes of the railway, George Stephenson country. The settlements involved are Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth. The first mentioned is very much a product of the railways, what became very early in the 20th century the North Tyneside electric loop, allowing people to commute between the coast and Newcastle and also allowing town dwellers to enjoy the pleasures of the seaside. Facilities, in the form of entertainments, rides, bathing stations, rock swimming pools were developed and promoted by the railway companies. Cullercoats, a fishing village, was the home of Winslow Homer for about 18 months. Tynemouth had a huge Pavilion, destroyed by fire about 20 years ago, which was never a success. The Duke of Northumberland built a summer 'house' for his wife, now the Grand Hotel. The beach is also a centre for surfing. Lying at the mouth of the Tyne, Tynemouth also had its military establishments, dating back to the eighteenth century and updated in 1914 and 1939.
Newcastle also had its Robert Moses, T Dan Smith, City Manager in the early 1970s, who had many fine buildings destroyed and house cleared to drive a motorway, in part elevated, through the heart of the city. He was also obsessed with separating pedestrians and traffic, with the result that there are isolated stretches, of bleak, wind-swept, graffiti daubed walkways dotted around the city.
Boardwalks have never been part of the British seaside resort. Much more usual is the promenade, a raised stone or concrete walkway parallel to the beach, which also serves as a coastal defence. Only very rarely do we experience surges such as that caused by Sandy.

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sojourner
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Very interesting, MGT, and makes me want to go back to Northumberland. When I was there, many moons ago with a friend, after staying in Durham we went to Lindisfarne (Holy Island), driving out in low tide, and then on to Scotland. I remember some pretty towns (Bamburgh? Jedburgh?), but we did not see closer to Newcastle.

What's a conurbation?

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mgt
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A conurbation is when a series of smaller towns develops into one large entity, like the Ruhr in Germany and, I suppose, The Los Angeles area.
If you have visited Jedburgh, then you were pretty close to my home town, Innerleithen, which lost its rail connection to the Beeching axe in the 1960s. Interestingly, part of the route which it adjoined, has recently been re-opened, from Melrose to Edinburgh, part of the former Waverley Route, from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

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sojourner
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Thanks, that's a great word. And if you think about it, even NYC is historically a conurbation--Brooklyn used to be a separate city, and Queens was a lot of separate communities (including the Rockaways).

I am pretty sure we went through Jedburgh; I know we went through Bamburgh (and saw a handsome castle there); but we did not stay long in either, just went through. We went up to Stirling and Loch Ness and all the way to Inverness and over to Skye and then back down to Loch Lomond to the Lake District. My friend was driving. I did also go to Edinburgh by train on another trip, a few years before, and up to St Andrews, Fife; this was back in Britrail days. I remember the (northbound?) train took longer than usual because it was a Sunday, and I remember going through Berwick-upon-Tweed and thinking how attractive it looked. . . . and that's about all I remember of the trip. Ay, it's a long time ago!

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DonNadeau
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What a wonderful article that was. Thank you. Wish it had been written before my visit.

Last I heard Brooklyn would become the fourth largest U.S. city if it became independent.

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sojourner
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Yes, and I think in the 1980s I heard 1 in 25 Americans were born in Brooklyn, but that may no longer be the case. . . .

The Rockaways are politically part of the NYC borough of Queens, though, not Brooklyn. Geographically they seem both, or neither; the peninsula's only land connection (in Far Rockaway) is to Nassau County of Long Island, which is not part of NYC! Midway down the peninsula, the Cross Bay Bridge takes a driver through Broad Channel, an island that is also part of Queens, and then to "mainland" Queens, I think around Howard Beach but am not sure; the subway "trestle" definitely goes to Broad Channel and then Howard Beach. Further down the peninsula, near Riis Park, the Marine Park Bridge takes the driver to Brooklyn, near Floyd Bennett Field I think. The ferry from Manhattan goes under the Marine Park Bridge (but not as far as the Cross Bay Bridge). You get a really good feel for the layout when you take the ferry, or another boat--you see what you've always seen on a subway map etc but "in person."

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sojourner
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Update: Just took the Rockaway ferry. It was great, but I took it FROM Rockaway to NYC in the morning. I hear that the other way is super busy, everyone going to Da Beach.

One thing--if you ask at the food concession, you can get a free transfer to the ferry that goes between E35th St and Wall St (with stops in Brooklyn in between). Or vice versa. So the whole thing for just $2.75!

Another thing: There is a pricier one a day "Express" ferry to the Rockaways, this is not the ferry I was talking about and I don't know much about it, https://americanprincesscruises.com/rockaway-express-beach-ferry/
It may be lots less crowded though?

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mgt
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Thanks. I had noted the "Express" ferry, but do not see much advantage in it.
Presumably, in the later part of the day, the regular ferry from Rockaway back to Wall Street will be quite crowded?

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sojourner
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Yes, same beach crowd returning. But just because it's crowded doesn't mean it's not take-able--people ARE using it, and there are more ferries on than ever before, so it seems to be working. And remember, this was July 4th holiday and superhot weather . . . could well be better other times. But I'd get there early and definitely avoid weekends (and maybe Fridays too).

Thought of another site of possible interest: Hamilton Grange, Alexander Hamilton's house, recently reopened after renovation and very popular now owing to the Broadway show about him. It's one of the oldest surviving buildings in NYC. Of course, nothing compared to what you have in UK, so not sure it would be of interest. There are tours and self-guided tours--see their website. Note it's a National Monument, so federally administrated, as Statue of Liberty and Roosevelt home up in Hyde Park are. (Which, given some of proposed cuts from the nasty man is always scary.)

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mgt
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I have been interested in Hamilton for years, probably partly because of his Scottish connection! I was very moved by the site of his grave in Trinity Church graveyard. It is strange how a hit musical based on an unlikely subject can re-kindle interest in a somewhat shadowy historical figure. I had read both Flexner's and Chernow's biographies before the musical appeared and wondered what the fuss was about. Of the Founding Fathers he, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams are my favourites, even though they all had their weaknesses, as did Washington and Jefferson!
By the way can I buy tickets a few days in advance for the train to Poughhkeepsie? I am just thinking of queues at ticket offices between 8.00 and 9.00 am

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sojourner
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Far as I know, you can buy the Metro North tickets in advance. Also, unlike Amtrak, the seats are not reserved. The tickets expire after a month, I think. I believe in the direction you are going you need only Off Peak tickets in the morning, returning to NYC in the evening, but you should check the Metro North website just to be sure. Note there is an Off Peak senior rate that is even a bit lower, for those over 65. You can buy the tickets at Grand CEntral Station ticket windows too.

I'm not so sure about loving Alexander Hamilton; I actually though Burr a bit put upon! John Adams I admire pretty well though he certainly had his flaws. My favorite founding fathers are Franklin and Washington. I also rather like Thomas Paine, that troublemaker. Not sure if he qualifies as a founding father, either--more of a Brit, technically? Anyway, I believe he is buried up in New Rochelle and I could be wrong but I think his grave there largely forgotten.

I like to visit graves too. I think the biggest thrill for me was visiting Concord cemetery (outside Boston), where Thoreau (one of my favorite Americans), Emerson, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts are buried. Thoreau has just a little stone that says just Henry on it, as he never wed and died young; it's his family's plot area, and his parents are the only ones with the big stones and full names! Amazing, for such a great man, eh? Emerson of course has a fancy marble stone, being the great man of letters. . . . Hmmmmmmmmmm

Another big thrill was Mark Twain's grave, in Elmira NY. He is another of my favorite Americans.

You can see Franklin and Eleanor's graves at Hyde Park.

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Ocala Mike
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Thoreau and Twain, two of my favorites. 19th Century American Literature was my "thing" in college. "Walden" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" iconic works for me.

Back to trains.

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