Since the industrialization of America in the 19th century, generations of city dwellers have escaped the heat by heading to idyllic towns dotting the coasts. Initially only the wealthy classes could afford to own lakeside or oceanfront homes but by the turn of the century improved travel meant that the beach, the boardwalk and fresh air were only a short train ride away. On the East Coast, New Yorkers found refuge in the The Rockaways, a popular resort area located within the borough of Queens. Both inexpensive beachside bungalows and luxury hotels flourished in neighborhood such as Arverne until the 1950s and 1960s, when cheaper and more efficient air travel encouraged Americans to go farther afield for vacations.
The set of photos shared here today date from the late 1930s, just before the decline of the beachfront. Based on the written captions, I surmised that the same family visited Arverne every summer. On their own the snapshots evoke a sense of classic Americana charm, after researching the fate of Averne, however; I realize how the photos evoke a place that unfortunately was lost to abandonment and the bulldozers only a short ten years after this family’s visit.