Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City
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Far Rockaway is one of the four neighborhoods on the Rockaway Peninsula in the New York City borough of Queens in the United States. It describes the easternmost section of the Rockaways, usually the area east of Beach 77th Street, comprising the neighborhoods of Bayswater, Edgemere, Arverne, as well as Far Rockaway proper and Downtown Far Rockaway.
Far Rockaway's character is that of an inner-city, oceanfront district, in some ways having more in common with Asbury Park, New Jersey than with New York City. Far Rockaway is one of the most distant New York neighborhoods from Manhattan, the cultural and financial center of New York City. Formerly populated by Eastern European Jewish and Irish immigrants, it now has a large African American population, though the westernmost portion still remains mostly Irish. Downtown Far Rockaway has a moderately large Central American population. There is also a large Orthodox Jewish population in the easternmost part of Far Rockaway, which borders Inwood and Lawrence, and other areas in the densely-Jewish Five Towns area across the Nassau County border. The area is home to a large and growing number of Haredi Jews with a large network of yeshivas and Jewish communal needs.
Recently, the area is being renewed with new beach houses and waterfront development. There has been a steady attempt at cleaning up the area, but despite its rough appearance, the crime rate is relatively low.
Far Rockaway is one of two New York City neighborhoods whose subway terminus is within realistic walking distance of the city limits (the Wakefield section of the Bronx is the other). This fact led to an interesting scenario in 1985, when New York City banned the sale of spray-paint cans to persons under the age of 18, in an effort to stem the tide of graffiti in the city; teenagers would travel across the city line into either Nassau County (after getting off the subway at the last stop in Far Rockaway) or Westchester County (from the last stop in Wakefield) to purchase spray paint there (Nassau County has since followed suit and prohibited spray-paint sales to minors, but Westchester County has not).
Rockaway Beach is sometimes known as the "Irish Riviera."
Access to Manhattan is available via the IND Rockaway Line (A) subway service, which has a terminal at Mott Avenue. This subway stretch is completely elevated throughout the Rockaway Peninsula. However, the Rockaway section of the New York City subway system has proved to be unreliable and prone to power outages and inconvenience to its passengers since it is so far from the center of New York City. A July 2006 incident left passengers stuck for hours in the middle of a heat wave, aggravated by the inaccessibility of the tracks at the location of the breakdown. it should also be noted that the Long Island Power Authority maintains the electrical system for the Rockaways, not Consolidated Edison.
The Far Rockaway station is the terminus for the Long Island Rail Road's Far Rockaway Branch, providing full service in both directions to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and Flatbush Avenue / Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The line is unique in that trains leave New York City and make local stops in Nassau County before crossing back into Queens and terminating at Far Rockaway. Passengers can "change at Jamaica" between the various destinations and other LIRR lines. During rush hour, express service bypasses Jamaica station.
Residents of Far Rockaway thus have two options for access to Manhattan, an uncommon situation that provides a backup for commuters in the event of service disruptions on any one system.
The LIRR Far Rockaway Branch had originally been part of a loop that travelled along the existing route, continuing through the Rockaway Peninsula and heading on a trestle across Jamaica Bay through Queens where it reconnected with other branches. Frequent fires and maintenance problems led the LIRR to abandon the Queens portion of the route, which was acquired by the city to become the IND Rockaway Line, with service provided by the A train.
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