A one-time popular summer resort that attracted the best stars that the cinematic Golden Age of Hollywood had to offer, Far Rockaway has come a long way since its incorporation into New York City in the late 1890s.
What is now known as Rockaway was inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans, sold to the Dutch by the Mohegan tribe along with most of Long Island in 1639, and to the British in 1685. Finally the land was sold to Richard Cornell, who settled there. The name "rockaway" is the later corruption of a Lenape language word that sounded phonetically something like "rack-a-wak-e," and referred to the area. It may have meant "place of sands.”
Before the consolidation of Greater New York City in 1898, the Rockaway Peninsula was part of the Town of Hempstead, then a part of Queens County. The village of Rockaway Park became incorporated into the city boundaries on January 1, 1898.
A Seaside Haven
Prior to World War II, when the Hamptons was known for its potato farms, Far Rockaway was the summer getaway for A-list actors. W. C. Fields, Mae West and Mary Pickford took rooms in this southeastern Queens enclave’s rambling waterside houses—picturesque bungalows—as local historians tell it, enjoying sea breezes, privacy and rollicking dances.
In fact, in 1929, Groucho Marx owned 24 bungalows as an investment. Its proximity to the beach made it an ideal location for tourists and vacationers from the outer boroughs.