The Rockaways has been a popular summer retreat since the 1830s. This beach resort town, especially Breezy Point located on the western end of the Rockaways, was hit really hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Most Breezy Point homes were damaged or destroyed by high water and fire –130 homes burned to the ground.
Even though there is still hurricane debris left behind that has yet to be removed, in February 2016, the Rockaways was featured in an article in The New York Times about “New York’s Next Hot Neighborhoods”. It’s on the rebound and it’s got a cool vibe happening right now with a great mix of the old and new. Put this destination on your list for a day trip.
We spent a day exploring Katharina Grosse’s spray painted, decaying aquatic buildings around the grounds of Fort Tilden. This free public art installation, Rockaway! has been organized by MoMA PS1 along with several Parks departments. It was bizarre, creative, interesting and a little creepy. The buildings, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy four years prior have sat vacant, further decaying and collecting tags, graffiti and markings by passerbys over the years. By spray painting the largest of the decrepit buildings a vibrant red and white, Grosse pays tribute and gives these buildings a final celebration of their histories and stories of people who once inhabited them. Her installation worked, I made the visit and imagined what once was.
After exploring the public art and ruins we spent the day at the beach, just in front of the bright red house. The beach was clean, empty and the water was refreshing. We chose to stay in this area, but you can easily walk towards the boardwalk or hop over to Jacob Reis park where there are some food trucks and pop up shops.
- There is much more public art to see in this area, Fort Tilden has about seven installations, get a brochure at the entrance.
- Driving is probably the easiest way to get around however there are several public transportation options.
- Public transportation: Take the subway 2 or 5 to the end of the line then take the 35 bus to the first stop right over the bridge by Fort Tilden. You can walk to the beach from here and see Rockaway! Or stay on the 35 bus and get off at the parking lot at Jacob Riis Park where you can enjoy the pop up shops.
- Dogs are not allowed on the beach March 15th – September 15th.
- The beach is free.
- Bathrooms are located at Jacob Riis, within the Fort Tilden grounds near the church and port-a-potties by the beach entrance at Fort Tilden.
- The waves are big and pretty rough for little ones.
- Bring all beach essentials, there is no place to buy sunscreen, sun hats or towels.