Ramblersville: Little Venice on Jamaica Bay

and now

Originally known as Remsen's Landing (after Jeromus Remsen a Revolutionary War officer)  Ramblersville was the name adopted for the area after a New York Herald article related the story of a stranger's visit in the 1890's in which he exclaimed, "This is the greatest place for a ramble that I ever struck!" The name seemed appropriate for the sleepy fishing village on stilts.

Although fishing shacks had been here since colonial times, Hawtree Creek and the shores of Jamaica Bay were becoming popular in the late 19th century for fishing, clamming, boating, swimming and for relief from the summer heat in the city. By the turn of the century the areas had also become known as "Little Venice". What began as a weekend and summer bungalow colony slowly evolved into the community of Ramblersville.  
[Ironically, the Health Department banned swimming and shell fishing in Jamaica Bay in 1916 because of pollution being spewed into the bay by local factories.]

New York Sun April 1903

The New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad (later the Long Island Railroad ) added a stop at Ramblersville. There was no station, the train simply stopped and the passengers disembarked. If the tide was high they stepped from the train into a foot of sea water. A short walk led them to the main boardwalk called Broadway where they could connect to any area in town.

There's still only one street leading in and out of Ramblersville, and a few paved roads that dead end at the canals.

This bridge leads south from Ramblersville to the neighborhood of West Hamilton Beach which boasts nine crossroads and their own volunteer fire company.
( There was an East Hamilton Beach which was razed and filled in for the expansion of Idlewild Airport, now known as JFK)

The A train runs through here, but unlike the old rail line, it doesn't stop

Almost everyone who lived along the creek and the canals had a boat....

and they still do.....

Although the roads are paved, electricity and sewers installed, remembrances of things past are still treasured here.

A German commuter bus???

No plastic playhouses here

and a cottage for sale

Archival photos from George Eastman House & NYPL
all other photos copyright nycedges 2011


  1. i look at your pictures, and i feel like i've gone back home to new yawk on vacation.

  2. I enjoyed this very much. When I first moved to NYC, I had a friend who had a little boat moored at a marina out by JFK. We would go out on Sundays and enjoy his past time of "gunkholing" which was investigating all the isolated, forgotten soggy edges of NYC...I was here on the water side many times...this brings back great memories. Thank you again, sir!

  3. Microdot;
    I would love to explore these areas by small boat, especially all the formerly occupied islands in NYC waterways...never heard the term "gunkholing" but it sure sounds like fun(oh btw; I'm Ms.Edges..at least last time I looked!)

  4. mais, oui, excuse moi, madame! merci bien!

  5. Wonderful time/space warp. Love the before and after photos. Thanks.