Bayswater; Far Far Rockaway

Bayswater is a peninsula on a peninsula, a quiet leafy enclave that has escaped the sad fate of so many neighborhoods in Far Rockaway thanks in part to zoning laws that prohibit  "out-of-character multifamily and attached developments ".  Bayswater started as a planned community laid out by developer William Trist Bailey in 1878.  The property was purchased from descendants of Richard Cornell, the area's first European settler who bought the land in 1687.  In 1898 Rockaway became part of the consolidated Greater New York and was designated as the Fifth Ward, Borough of Queens.

early 20th century view:

and early 21st century views:

The Rockaways had become the summer playground of New York's wealthy elite by the mid -19th century, the Hamptons of it's day, with huge elaborate mansions quaintly called "cottages". By the turn of the century, with the advent of ferry and train service, the southern beachfront was lined with grand hotels and resorts catering to a more middle class clientele.


Bayswater resisted commercial development and remained primarily a residential neighborhood of  large Victorian homes with manicured lawns, private sports clubs, and of course, a yacht club.

On the tip of Bayswater peninsula was the grandest palace of them all, Breezy Point.


In 1907 Wall Street banker Louis Heinsheimer bought the property and demolished the existing mansion to build his 175 foot long summer home. He died a few years later, leaving it to his younger brother Alfred, a trustee of the New York Foundation charity, who in turn donated the property in 1925 to the Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Maimonides Institute for Children.
The mansion was damaged by fire and demolished in 1987. The land was purchased by the Trust for Public Land and became Bayswater Point State Park.

the grounds

traces of the old foundation

The waterfront

me & my shadow on the collapsing retaining wall

fishing spots

 from across the bay the low rumble of planes taxiing at JFK airport

The giant palaces are gone, but there are many houses from the era still here

now the Young Israel of Wavecrest Bayswater center
 This old property called Sunset Lodge backs up on to the park. There have been numerous plans by the State Parks Dept. and the Audubon Society to utilize the house, but due to lack of funding, it has remained boarded up and abandoned.

There's an interesting, but sad story about the final owners of this home;
Back to nature: The house in the park at the end of Bayswater Point State Park By Katharine Jose

Historic Postcards courtesy of the Leiman Library
Historic photos from the Library of Congress
all other photos copyright nycedges 2011


  1. if i ever win the lottery (i guess i should buy a ticket to have any hope of doing so), i'd love to buy a big old house like the ones pictured.

  2. hey nonnie nonnie, thanks for stopping by!

  3. For more photos of Far Rockaway, Bayswater, Playland and the Rockaway peninsula in general, please visit my 38-page photo site at:

    More coming soon.

    Carol Marston

  4. Another nice bike trip memory from the late 80's. We took the subway out as far as we could, then biked...I miss biking around NYC so much....I bike here, but it is all hills, just getting to the main road is the hardest part...When I am in New York, I can just let the wind do the work.....

  5. Dear Carol, Sorry it's taken so long to respond -- I had problems with your link & finally realized I had already visited your site while doing background research for this post -- what a wonderful collection of photos & info!!!

  6. Microdot, wish I had met you in the 80's -- at that time all I was interested in was getting away from the outer boroughs & moving to Manhattan...and now I'm back and cherishing all these quiet, out of the way spots.

  7. I was back in NYC in October for a week and got to use my buddy's Eliptigo bike on some great trips on the new bike paths along the Hudson. I came to The East Village from the midwest, so being in NYC was a 30 year adventure for me.

  8. microdot-
    The paths are a great addition to NYC -- you can almost circumnavigate the entire waterfront of Manhattan, except for a 7-8 block stretch along the U.N. which is closed for security.

  9. Love the old photos of that beautiful area,wonder if you can post more before & after of the rest of the Five Towns.

  10. check out the Leiman Library (link at bottom of this post) they've got old postcards of 5 Towns

  11. yo my friend lives right across the street from there. i always said it was something special about that house. come to find out it has more stories than the bible. its nice to know the history of that area.

  12. My great uncles were Louis and Alfred Heinsheimer, who owned the Heinsheimer Mansion. It is a shame it was never turned into a historical home instead of being destroyed and the salvage company keeping all of the unique and historical items that were in and a part of this amazing piece of history.

  13. This is the correct link for Carol Marston's photo essay referenced in her comment -

  14. William Trist Bailey was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather!

  15.'s very sad indeed. I just live 4 houses away from the "park" and I was doing a research on Bayswater Point Park and came across with the former property owners and shocked that there was a mansion here before. I'm so saddened about how the city treated this historic property. I do remember though during early '90s if I'm not mistaken, I think I saw the "conservatory" that I read in the archives...I think I remember it but then noticed it was vandalized. So sad...really sad. Hello John Hines, sorry about any case, do you have any photos of the old mansion from your ancestors?

  16. thank you by the way for this info....I found it to be very educational knowing that I live in a place where rich people lived before...Far Rockaway is really a historical place..i just hoped it was preserved..

  17. I grew up in Bayswater on 25th and Healy and have such amazing memories. My dad had the concession stands on Beach 19th street behind Spartan Day Camp and on 29th Street, Have great memories of going on the boardwalk every wed night to watch the fireworks. Had a great childhood growing up on the beaches of Rockaway Beach.

  18. The postcards and pictures of historic Bayswater are just so classic. Breathtaking even. I really just love all the old school relics of yesteryear and to read about the stories that come with. That's just classic.