Broad Channel, Queens: Wikis


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Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens NY.

Broad Channel is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. It occupies the southern portion of Rulers Bar Hassock (known colloquially as "Broad Channel Island"), which is the only inhabited island (pop. about 3,000) in Jamaica Bay. The neighborhood stands on Big Egg Marsh, an area of fill approximately 20 blocks long and 4 blocks wide. The community is also an inholding within the Gateway National Recreation Area, a unit of the U.S National Park Service

Lying between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula, it is connected to those communities by bridges at either end of the island—The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge—which carry vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Cross Bay Boulevard is the only through road. The area consists of artificial canals separating dead-end residential blocks.

The IND Rockaway Line of the New York City Subway (A S) serves the Broad Channel station.

At one time, the streets of Broad Channel were numbered along the same continuum found in the rest of Queens besides the Rockaways (with the numbers of "Streets" increasing from west to east, the numbers of "Avenues" increasing from north to south, etc.). Today, however, Broad Channel streets have their own numbering format, independent of that used elsewhere in the borough. This change still causes occasional confusion.




Early New York

Prior to European settlement, the Jameco and Canarsie bands of Lenape Native Americans frequented this area. During the 1600s, Dutch settlers established a community on the island and began harvesting oysters, clams, shrimp, and fish.

1898 - 1915

Broad Channel remained a parcel within the Town of Jamaica until the consolidation of New York City in 1898. The northern (and larger) portion of the island is part of Gateway National Recreation Area and is managed as part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the only wildlife refuge in the National Park System. The waters and marsh islands of the refuge entirely surround the community.

1915 - 1938

In 1915, the City leased the island to the Broad Channel Corporation, which in turn leased properties to private individuals for the development of summer bungalows and houses. The island prospered as an exclusive retreat for city residents. After the construction of the Cross Bay Boulevard in 1923, Broad Channel underwent a surge in popularity.

1938 - 1982

In 1938, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses wanted to build a park on the island. His plan was for recreation on the shore with a wildlife sanctuary on the north end of the island. In 1950 fire struck the Long Island Railroad, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority offered to build a subway line in its place. Moses agreed as long as the MTA would build two ponds. A wildlife refuge — about 9,000 acres in size — was finally built on the northern half of the island, attracting birds with vegetation and ponds. Moses wasn't concerned with whether his project would displace residents already living on the island.

Following the construction of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1939, the island became easily accessible by car. That same year, the Broad Channel Corporation declared bankruptcy. The City acquired the island’s property titles but, for many years, denied residents the right to purchase the land under their houses. The City made many attempts to alter the island’s purpose, but the local community resisted them all. Proposed changes included the construction of a commercial port and the extension of John F. Kennedy International Airport. In 1982, New York City granted Broad Channel residents the right to purchase their property. Broad Channel has two churches, a volunteer fire department, one elementary school, and a public library.


The local branch of the Queens Borough Public Library.

Like all areas of New York City, Broad Channel is served by the New York City Department of Education.

Elementary school students attend P.S 47. The school has pre-kindergarten through eighth grades; the school facilities were completely remodeled during the 1990s.


Broad Channel Athletic Club

The non-profit Broad Channel Athletic Club was established in 1961. The baseball teams are registered with Little League and host an in-house baseball league, and participate in the Catholic Youth Organization. The football league plays in the Nassau and Suffolk Football League. The soccer league is completely run by the organization and participates in the Catholic Youth Organization. The swimming team participates in the Police Athletic League and the Catholic Youth Organization. The basketball league also participates in the Catholic Youth Organization.

The Broad Channel Historical Society

The Broad Channel Historical Society was founded in 1994. Their mission is to document and preserve the history of Broad Channel, often referred to as the “Venice” of New York. The committee was initiated by then President of the Civic Association Danny Mundy, who came up with the idea from reading the “Glimpse of the Past” column in the town newsletter, Channel News. With seed money from New York State Senator Ada Smith, loose-leaf notebooks with plastic sleeves were purchased in order to begin documenting the colorful history of “The Channel”. After one year of articles, written memories, and videotaped interviews, they held their first Annual Historical Day in June 1995. This event brings out the townspeople and folks from the surrounding area to enjoy the collection, usually housed in the Broad Channel Public Library.

The Queens Borough Public Library has been the home for the historical collection. The collection was microfilmed in 1997. The microfilm is available for viewing at the Central Branch in Jamaica, Queens. Also in 1997 the first annual Historical Calendar was published. The calendars feature old pictures of Broad Channel and tidal information.

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department

The department originally started in 1905 as bucket brigade to help minimize property loss due to fires. In 1907, this brigade was formally organized into the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Association under its first Chief, Edward H.Schleuter. The current firehouse at 15 Noel Road was opened in the summer of 1908. In 1913, Chief Chris Hoobs died of a heart attack responding to a fire. This would be the only line of duty death to our knowledge in the departments history even to present day. They received their fire charter from the state of New York in 1917 and were known from then on as the Broad Channel Volunteers.

In 1956, then Deputy Chief Robert H. Russell, Sr. added volunteer ambulance services to provide first aid and ambulatory care to the residents of Broad Channel. Robert H. Russell, Sr. would go on to be elected to the rank of Chief of Department 21 times from 1957-1973, 1975-1977, and again in 1984. By the early 1960's the department was growing rapidly in both stature in the community and as a organization as a whole. On the summer weekends during the 1950's and 1960's, the FDNY would send Rockaway Eng Co. #267 to the Broad Channel Volunteers quarters to assist in answering alarms on the island. The reason for this was the bridges North and South of the island were draw bridges and would frequently be opening for large passing ships.

This would impede response by FDNY, EMS & NYPD companies to the island for any type of major emergency. Also, Cross Bay Boulevard would be jammed by beach goers and those looking to vacation at Rockaways bungalows and hotels and its famous Rockaway Playland. FDNY firefighters would leave their engine parked and join the volunteers on their engines because they were much newer and more dependable then the apparatus FDNY had at the time.

Over the 101 years the Broad Channel Volunteers have been in service, they have created a close working relationship with the local FDNY companies as well as the volunteer companies from Nassau & Suffolk Counties. The Broad Channel Volunteers are also dues paying members of many organizations such as the Southern New York Volunteer Firemans Association, the Firemans Association of the State of New York, and along with the 9 other volunteer fire departments in the 5 boroughs of New York City, they are members of Volunteer Firemans Association of the City of New York.

In the late 1970's, The Broad Channel Junior Fire Department was organized to help train young teens in the aspects of the fire and EMS service as well as dispatching and clerical duties while still cleaning the firehouse and its apparatus. When its members turned 18, they were allowed to begin riding the apparatus as firefighters or start training as EMT's. The benefit was these teens were already knowledgeable in the operations of the department and it became a breeding ground for the departments future firefighters, officers and chiefs. They would later become a Boy Scout Explorer Post, #3069.

In 1994 under Chief Dan McIntyre, the volunteer ambulance corps were granted their New York State Certification. Since then, the department took the initiative to require all its firefighters to be New York State Certified in all aspects of the fire service as well as EMS. In 1994, Chief Dan McIntyre also started the departments Marine Company which is still in service to present day. The department operates a small Coast Guard-like Zodiac as a swift water rescue team with certified EMT's on board and in some instances certified divers as well.

The Broad Channel Volunteers, Inc. is a 501(C)3 Not-For-Profit organization that relies solely on door to door fundraising, grants from politicians and from the state, and for 102 years has operated 100% volunteer.


Broad Channel Park

Broad Channel Park opened in May 1995, located at the southern most end of Broad Channel, sits along Jamaica Bay. The park features two grass baseball fields, one asphalt baseball field, benches, water fountains, a parking area, four basketball standards, a roller hockey rink, and a small play area. The flagpole area is surrounded by a nautically themed sitting area. The park was given its present name in March 1998.[1]

Gene Gray Park

This playground is named in honor of Broad Channel community activist Eugene Gray (1927–1973). Gray was born on March 14, 1927 in Park Slope, Brooklyn and later moved to Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan. After attending college, Gray married Lorraine Baker (1929–1977) with whom he had three children: Michael, Gary and Gregory. Gray later moved to Broad Channel and became involved in various neighborhood youth programs, including the Broad Channel Athletic Club, an organization for which he served as president. A community football coach for more than twenty years, Grey also helped to shape and maintain the Broad Channel football league and assisted in the creation of the local Teen Club, which provided safe recreational activities for the area’s youth.

Before his death on September 14, 1973, Eugene Gray also supported the construction of this site, the first adventure playground to be built in Broad Channel. In recognition of his dedication to the playground’s construction and lifetime of work for the neighborhood’s youth, the Broad Channel Civic Association and Queens Community Board 14 motioned to have the playground named in Gray’s honor. Their undertaking was successful in 1987, when a local law passed naming the park Gene Gray Playground.

Located on the corner of Cross Bay Boulevard and East 9th Street, Gene Gray Playground opened on November 12, 1987 and was built at a cost of $457,688. In honor of Broad Channel’s seafaring past, award-winning architect Richard Dattner incorporated a nautical fortress theme into the park’s wooden play equipment. The playground contains a walkway bridge intended to resemble a sailing ship, complete with bow, stern, and gangplank-like ramp. The park also contains a 75-year-old willow tree (Salix spp.), nine red maple trees (Acer rubrum), and ninety burning bushes (Euonymus atropurpureus) along the perimeter.


External links

Coordinates: 40°37′08″N 73°49′53″W / 40.6190°N 73.8314°W / 40.6190; -73.8314


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