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History of Tottenville Beach (1905-2012)

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  • 1932 Tottenville Beach Map
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  • x Jersey View Surf Ave
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  • Wormland's Hotel was the first business on Tottenville Beach, then called Outside Beach. It was located on Surf Ave. at Yetman Ave. A boathouse, possibly for lifeguards, is visible on the far right in this circa 1910 postcard.
  • By 1910, Tottenville beaches had become popular for summer vacationers from Manhattan and New Jersey. Oscar Friedrich of New Jersey enlarged Wormland's Hotel and established the Shore House Hotel. A large fishing pier was soon added.
  • Around 1920, Charles Peters operated the hotel, described as having "First Class Accommodations for Yachting, Auto, Fishing and Trolley Parties. Dinners Served at All Hours. Sea Food a Specialty." In 1925 Jens Schmidt purchased several waterfront lots and established Schmidt's Boat Rentals adjacent to the hotel.
  • Audrey Siebert Snyder (1917-2012), summer resident, is pictured in a decorated baby buggy behind the Shore House Hotel following the 1920 baby parade. These annual Labor Day parades were sponsored by the Raritan Bay Park Association.
  • In this map detail (Sanborn Map, revised 1932) the footprints of numerous buildings including many residences along Surf Ave. from Brighton St. to Loretto St. tell the story of an active beach community.
  • The Tottenville Casino, a popular restaurant and dance hall, also served as a banquet hall for groups and organizations. Located at Rockaway St. and Surf Ave., the Casino burned down in 1940.
  • During the 1930s, the Raritan Bay Park Improvement Association (RBPIA) building provided ample room for activities and entertainment throughout the year. (Image from the NYPL Digital Gallery)
  • Visible in this 1936 view of Surf Ave., taken from Brighton St., is the RBPIA building (center). None of these buildings remain standing today. (Image from the NYPL Digital Gallery)
  • In 1934, 80 bath houses owned by Hugh Cuff were destroyed and several other buildings damaged by fire including the Jersey View Restaurant, Surf Ave., pictured here.(Image from NYPL Digital Gallery)
  • Many summer cottages were winterized and had become permanent residences by the 1940s. Tottenville Beach remained a favorite spot for both summer and year-round families, especially teenagers. In this 1942 photo, a group of fun-loving "beach boys" pose in front of the lifeguard shack. (Gift of Jane Schaaff Cole)
  • In 1945, the Tottenville Yacht Club purchased the Schmidt property and built their clubhouse. In 1950, the clubhouse was destroyed by the Great Thanksgiving Storm. Club members, pictured here, immediately began the clean up and rebuilding of the clubhouse.(Collection of Leyes Family)
  • One hundred year old brick cesspools along the beach were recently exposed by Sandy's storm surge.
  • Pilings from the Tottenville Yacht Club, buried in the sand for the past 60 years, have been exposed by the tidal surge.
  • Is is written that Tottenville Beach has lost more than 100 feet of shoreline since the early 1900s. Just days after the storm, Raritan Bay is once again calm and serene. The waterfront is indeed a beautiful but dangerous place.