Top 20 Places That Are No More, Places15-13

 Rockaway Playland  1902-1985
Lasting into the 1980’s, Playland was still hanging on after many other local amusement centers had long since disappeared. Still hanging on after the Rockaways themselves had stopped being as a resort area. Much of the demise of the park and the town can be pinned on our old friend Robert Moses.

Moses was directly responsible for taking away a chunk of the park for his 1930’s ill fated Shore Front Parkway project (Moses really wanted a parkway to run all the way from the Rockaways to Montauk Point, this was to be the Rockaway section of it). His effect on the taking out the rest of the park was more indirect but just as effective. It started in 1929 with Jones Beach, which took beach travelers away from Beach Channel Drive and over to Ocean Parkway. Moses’s slum clearance program in the 1950’s uprooted the poor from the inner city and brought them to the Rockaways. Their presence removed any attraction for the area as a resort. By the time Playland was sold to housing interests in 1985 the area had few summer visitors. It hung on in its last years as an amusement attraction alone.

Rockaway Playland Photos

1955, photo from

 RKO Keiths Movie Theater 1928-1983?
Probably the most palacial theater ever in Queens, it was majestic and beautiful. It was sold in 1983 to a developer who was arrested shortly after making illegal changes to the property. The Keith’s was open for 45 years as a great movie house, but has stood for another 28 years as an unused and sad reminder of what it once was. In that time it has neither been replaced or restored.

The New Save The RKO Keith’s Facebook Group

 A Great Flickr Photo Set

The Keiths, looking west on Northern Blvd, October 18, 1936 (NYPL)

 Forest Hills Stadium and Long Island Arena 1923-?
The US Tennis Open was played here once a year until 1978. As late as the mid 1980’s the stadium seemed to be doing well, it had a tournament of its own and other events to host, but it was not to last, the sponsors moved away and the tournament was no more. After one last attempt at concerts in the 1990’s, the stadium has since stood vacant. It now faces a tenuous future, with developers eyeing the place for their housing plans.

Rego Forest Preservation Council Page on the Stadium

September 2010 NYT Article

Queensborough, Page 2, July 1932, Courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce and Michael Pearlman

The Top 20 Places, numbers 20-16 can be found here

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1 Comment

  1. Nyharvey

     /  December 29, 2011

    We should credit Dick Geist, the final owner of Playland for his tenacity in holding out and literally trying to save this treasure till it was literally impossible. Likewise the Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan should offer space for people that are unaware of this web site and may become very interested in the continuing history of the place we call New York City and its environs.. One immediate thought that comes to mind is an exhibit about the conflict between Henry Barnes and Robert Moses with the commentary by the thoughts of the late Urbanization Professor Louis Mumford. I, of course belong to the mindset to preserve our past treasures to have a living history not to demolish to end our history.


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