Arverne, Queens, New York City
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Arverne 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 approximately Beach 59th Street to Beach 74th Street, along its main thoroughfare Beach Channel Drive, alternatively known as Rev. Joseph H. May Drive.
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, Holland. 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 1200 people, away to sea. On June 15, 1922, a large part of Arverne was leveled by a disastrous fire which left about 3,000 people homeless, although the neighborhood was quick to rebuild.
During the 1950's and 1960's, 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 abortive urban renewal projects of the 1960's 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. However, a new residential development, known by a return to Vernam's Arverne-by-the-Sea designation, has recently revied this run down, downtrodden area to once again thrive as a place for working class families.
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