Arverne, Queens (History)

(Neighborhoods In Queens)

neighborhoods_queens_arverne_300x300Arverne is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, on the Rockaway Peninsula. It was initially developed by Remington Vernam, whose signature “R. Vernam” inspired the name of the neighborhood. Arverne extends from Beach 56th Street to Beach 79th Street, along its main thoroughfare Beach Channel Drive, alternatively known as Rev. Joseph H. May Drive. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 14.

 

HISTORY

Vernam’s original plan was to name the neighborhood Arverne-by-the-Sea, and one grandiose plan, influenced by his wife, Florence, included a canal running through the neighborhood, reminiscent of the Amstel canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. When this plan fell through, the canal right-of-way was converted into a thoroughfare, Amstel Boulevard, which, except for a stub west of Beach 71st Street, was later incorporated into Beach Channel Drive.

While Arverne became well known as a beachfront community with inexpensive summer bungalows, and hotels of varying levels of expense and luxury as well as amusements and boardwalk concessions, it also attracted a year-round residential community. On January 3, 1914, a violent storm devastated the neighborhood as well as other neighborhoods on the peninsula, and completely swept the Arverne Pier Theater, which was capable of seating 1,200 people, away to sea. On June 15, 1922, a large part of Arverne was leveled by a disastrous fire which left about 10,000 people homeless, although the neighborhood was quick to rebuild.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the advent of commercial jet air travel encouraged people to travel to distant destinations during the summer, rather than to utilize local beaches and resorts. As a result, many of Arverne’s summer bungalows became vacant.

New York City’s urban renewal projects of the 1960s leveled to the ground most of the summer resorts and some of the residences, many of which had been abandoned. The process eventually transformed most of Arverne, from Rockaway Beach Boulevard southward to the beachfront, into vacant land used as a dumping ground.

In the early 2000s, Mayor Bloomberg started to revitalize Arverne with new housing and parks. Arverne and other parts of the Rockaways increasingly got attention and press as the redevelopment of the beachfront continued.By 2012, Arverne by the Sea, a new housing development, was largely developed with some parts under new construction.The area now has new retail establishments, such as Stop and Shop Grocery Store, Chase bank branch, restaurants, and subway sandwiches. In 2012, Arverne suffered substantial damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.