Belle Harbor, Neponsit, the Rockaways. After Hurricane Sandy, Restoration.
Belle Harbor and Neponsit are two upscale communities on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York City. These communities once boasted a resort atmosphere, stunning ocean sunrises and sunsets, the privacy of a beautiful beach for community residents due to restricted street parking from the spring to the end of September. Where else could one have the benefits of viewing the Manhattan skyline on the bay side of the peninsula and the comfort and peace of sleeping to the waves breaking, gulls crying and a lavish, relaxed lifestyle during the summer months protected by lifeguards every 100 yards or so? The pleasant aspect of the locale, the affluence required for the upkeep of such properties was manifest the moment one drove down the streets of Belle Harbor and Neponsit and encountered the well manicured, landscaped lawns, the matching awnings and yard trimmings, the statuesque, striking and elegant architecture (newer homes) and the stately and spacious, tasteful houses: stucco, brick, tudor and some cedar shaked.
For many familiar with the area or living in other sections of the peninsula, being able to afford living in Belle Harbor (beautiful harbor) or Neponsit homes would be a Jay Gatsby dream come true. If you chose to live on the peninsula, being near and around water was your raison d'etre. You didn't necessarily mind the sand and the wind off the Atlantic or the Jamaica Bay side, the 10 or 15 minute drive to the Belt Parkway to start the journey to Manhattan, the potential problems with the sewage treatment plant and the water supply or its occasional smells when you drove by. If you didn't live in these affluent communities, you imagined what it would be like to live in them; the lure of the beach enthralling and beautiful, a glorious magnificence nestled in the safety, privacy and seclusion of your neighborhood without the noise of tourists, consumerism and obnoxious crowds.
Every summer, I would join the neighborhood beach goers, the families or mothers with young children. Though I didn't live there, I am located one-half hour's drive away in Kew Gardens, a short time considering that I would be able to experience the ocean's sights, smells and sounds. I loved the serenity and felt Belle Harbor was my secret place to relax, unwind and think.Continued on the next page