BROAD CHANNEL “The Venice Of New York”
There is something exotic about Broad Channel. Whether it is the lightly salted breeze springing off Jamaica Bay or the vast array of waterfront homes, the island community seems to evoke a sentiment of escape from the bustling New York life. Although seemingly detached, the town still has access to just about anywhere.
In view of John F. Kennedy International Airport between the Rockaway Peninsula and Howard Beach, Broad Channel is a mile-long island community attached by two bridges.
Often referred to as “the Venice of New York” because of the long canals that bisect its residents’ waterfront property, the enclave is the only inhabited island in Jamaica Bay, boasting approximately three thousand residents.
The area, which is about 1,200 acres, is divided between the residential community in the south and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the north.
Originally, Broad Channel was just a stopover for vacationers heading to the Rockaway Peninsula until the 1880s when a railway was built across the bay to connect the island to mainland Queens. By the early 1900s, the train was carrying 3.5 million passengers across the bay annually.
In 1938, New York’s Park Commissioner Robert Moses sought to further develop the island. He envisaged a wildlife sanctuary and a recreational area along the Broad Channel’s shores. However, a fire scorched the wooden railway in 1950 and the Metropolitan Transit Authority offered to build a subway line to replace it. Moses agreed but only if he could set up two ponds.
After more negotiations, Moses agreed to finally construct a wildlife refuge – about 9,000 acres in size – on the northern side of the island, drawing birds with vegetation and ponds. Over 50 years later the subway line and the wildlife refuge remain. Nevertheless, many things have changed since then.
Currently, Broad Channel is going through a commercial renaissance according to Broad Channel Century 21 broker and owner, Francine Hamill. “Commercial properties in this area are going to be like nothing else,” she said. Such properties – including a large medical office, a new café and the grand opening of the new apothecary on 8th Road – will make the values of the homes in Broad Channel escalate. Therefore, it is best to buy now. “In ten years this place will be untouchable,” she said.
The area is also secure due to the large numbers of police and firefighters who live there, but Hamill said the town is attracting new buyers as well. “We are now selling to different clientele – doctors, attorneys – and there is a new elite crew from Manhattan coming to Broad Channel,” Hamill said.
The town has the Chris Galas Elementary Public School 47, a pizzeria, 4 delis, a library, two parks and two barbershops. “It’s a very safe neighborhood,” Hamill said, “It’s a good place to raise a family.” With access to the A-train to Manhattan and Shuttle Train (S Train) to Rockaway Park, Broad Channel seems to be the perfect medium between both worlds.
BY HENRICK A. KAROLISZYN
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: Queens.