Corey Kilgannon reports on the relentless sublimation of all that is old and/or unique, this time the destruction of the beach bungalows lining the path to Far Rockaway Beach in New York:
Richard George lives in a charming little beach bungalow just off the ocean on the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.
Like the homes of his neighbors, his small, three-bedroom shack is cooled by the salty breeze and surrounded by wildflowers and the sandy walkways leading to other lovely old wooden homes that form a beach colony, parts of which look more like Fire Island than New York City.
Mr. George’s home on Beach 24th Street has cotton bedspreads, quaint tablecloths and kitschy artwork. But don’t be fooled by the surroundings: it’s really a war bunker from which he defends his ever-shrinking seaside neighborhood.
At the table in his galley-size kitchen, he assembles legal briefs used to sue developers and city agencies to ward off efforts to demolish the bungalows for newer, bigger housing.
Back when the Rockaways was still a popular ocean resort for New Yorkers, these bungalows were abundant, with many built in the 1920’s. Groucho Marx is said to have invested in 24 of them. Now the largest remaining patch of the historic shacks are the roughly 120 that line three city blocks leading to the dunes in Far Rockaway.
With each passing year, more of the bungalows along Beach 24th, 25th and 26th Streets between Seagirt Boulevard and the boardwalk are demolished by developers building new housing. So far, Mr. George has not been able to get the city to declare the bungalows, many of which are abandoned, landmarks. So he fights local development by filing lawsuits claiming that the projects violate federal coastal regulations by illegally diminishing public access to the waterfront.
Read the complete article online at nytimes.com.