Photos: Kings Bay Rising, Circa 1960’s – A Requiem For Sheepshead Bay

Shore Parkway, looking east from Coyle Street.

Longtime reader Bruce Brodoff sent me these photos way back in January 2010. We had a couple of e-mail exchanges about them, and what follows is a photo essay and narrative pieced together from those e-mails describing the Kings Bay-area of Sheepshead Bay being developed. They show Kings Bay Little League’s fields being constructed, along with the Seacrest Apartments, and illustrate how parts of the neighborhood were – in relatively recent memory – still rural. His writings memorialize a bygone era; a quiet, uncongested corner of Brooklyn yet to be developed. Brodoff shares his memories of growing up in the type of neighborhood that New York City will likely never know again.

My family moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1966 into the newly-constructed Seacrest Apartments on Shore Parkway, next to the Golden Gate Motel and the Kings Bay Little League baseball fields. We moved when I was just three-and-a-half years old, and I am a proud product of P.S. 52, Shell Bank Junior High School and Sheepshead Bay High School (Class of 1979).

A few years ago Lou Spina, the Chairman of Kings Bay Youth Organization, shared with me a bunch of incredible photos of the baseball fields being constructed in the early 1960s. The photos also feature Seacrest being built, and some other perspectives of the neighborhood that are very striking.

The Bay was pretty undeveloped until a few decades ago. My parents remember walking on planks in front of the Seacrest building on Shore Parkway in early 1966 because there were no sidewalks; they were original tenants in Seacrest when they moved in June 1966. Sheepshead Bay was an amazing place to grow up – I lived a couple of blocks from Plumb Beach and spent countless childhood hours walking the shoreline looking for horseshoe crabs and other marine life; I remember playing on the construction site of the two-family homes that were built on Bragg Street between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway in the early 1970s; I remember that the ground was always muddy, and I believe that’s because the old “Hog Creek” meandered along that stretch of the neighborhood on its way to Shell Bank Creek.

Way before the Comfort Inn at the end of Emmons Avenue was built (on the site of the old Groto D’oro restaurant, which looked like a rustic cabin along the water), there was a a little building that housed a “Shatzkin’s Knish,” which briefly turned into a Nathan’s hot dog place. I think that even before this the site was home to a Bohack’s supermarket, although it might have been a bit further west, where the Palm Shore Home for Adults is, and land that now supports the very ugly Best Western on the corner of Emmons Avenue and Nostrand Avenue used to feature a very rural-looking gas station.

Where the Sheepshead Bay movie theater now stands once stood the Deauville Swim and Tennis Club; it was a pretty amazing place, especially in the winter, when they erected a big “tennis bubble” so people could play indoors. I played there for many years as a kid, as the Kings Bay sports league offered a tennis program. I always loved walking to the bubble along the Shore Parkway service road in the evening, as it was a mysterious walk – it was pretty desolate, and I always looked across the Belt Parkway at the Rockaway Inlet and watched the buoys and the towers of the Marine Parkway bridge blinking their red lights.

The back area of the Deauville (around where Jordan’s Lobster Dock is right now) was pretty rural back then. If you hit your paddleball over the fence, you had to wade through thick brush to find it, and the few homes that are still there were something out of a small fishing village.

The Bay just seemed bigger, brighter and cleaner when I was growing up. There were no safety railings along the water, just the sidewalk and perhaps a foot high – maybe less! – little curb separating pedestrians from the water below. I also remember how packed Emmons Avenue was when the boats returned from the sea in the late afternoon; every pier had a boat, and every boat was overflowng with fish on display for sale. It was very exciting to see the water, the boats, the birds, all the people buying and negotiating, and hearing the fog horns blaring and the shouts of fishmongers on the piers. I still love experiencing it, even if the fleet is now pitifully small and the Bay has lost its old-time feel.

Looking east on Shore Parkway (That’s the Golden Gate behind the trees and the Deauville in the background), but I’m not sure if the photographer is standing on Coyle street with the empty lot being the ball field, or if he is standing on Bragg Street and the lot is the future 3845 building. That fire hydrant was in front of the building pool, so it’s possible that the cluster of trees soon became the building I lived in. If the lot is the ballfield, then Bragg Sstreet is behind the far border and all of Seacrest was built on that former forest.

Here are the 3080/3090 Voorhies Avenue buildings. Bragg Street runs between the field and the buildings. The photo was taken near the corner of Coyle Street and Shore Parkway.

The first few floors of the 3845 building rising. That’s probably the elevator shaft (or garbage chute?) in the middle. The Golden Gate Motel is in the background.

Bragg Street in the foreground, the brand-new baseball field, and Coyle Street and it’s new houses in the background.

Bragg Street between Shore Parkway and Voorhies Avenue in the foreground, Shore Parkway and the Belt Parkway in the middle, the Lefrak apartments between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway in the background. I love the “forest” on the far right; I have distinct memories of when the neighborhood was still kind of wild in the late 60s/early 70s.

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  1. Wow!  This is the type of stuff I can really appreciate.  I can remember farther back when the Hicory-Q Bar and Grill and a small grocery store occupied the property where The Comfort Inn is now.  I also remember Grotto d’oro and Shatzkins Knishes – Shatzkins was on the corner of Emmons Avenue and Bragg, where the OPM club now stands.  After Shatzkins, that became a ticket office for the “gambling boat”, which didn’t last too long, then an excellent Chinese restaurant, which closed after several years and then became Sofia’s.  I remember Bohacks, but can’t seem to envision the exact location.  Yes, SB was much cleaner, brighter and friendlier back then.  Life was simple.  Where the Best Western now stands, there used to be a vacant lot.  There was a tree there and we had a tire on a rope attached to the tree.  All the kids would come and use the tire and the area as a little park.  Later on came the gas station, which my grandfather helped to build.  He fell off the roof and broke a couple of bones.  I haven’t thought about these things in years.  Life as an adult is sure complicated!

  2. The Hicory -Q ! THANK YOU! I was trying to remember the name of that restaurant/bar and thought I would never find anyone that remembered.  By any chance, anyone remember a restaurant on Ocean Ave across from Hamilton House?  I think the name was Villipagues but can’t find anyone that remembers. 

  3. The supermarket was a Bernstein Bros.  IT also was a “pool club” for awhile.  Then became the ‘short- stay’ motel, which is now Lymelight motel behind the Comfort Inn.

  4. Wow, Bruce.   Great journey back.  New you in HS, and from Noelle’s Finest.  Think your bro worked at the Marquis Room with my bros.?   Or was it you?  

  5. I don’t remember a pool hall there – the only pool hall I remember was on Sheepshead Bay Road.  The “short stay” motel behine the comfort inn is now called the Lytehouse Inn, not Lymelight motel.

  6. Yes we went through this about 3 months ago restaurants in the bay.  Tappans, Pappas’s, Joe clam bar many more. those were the days when Sheephead Bay was Sheepshead Bay and I think we had about 50 fishing boats back in the days. I think we now have about 6? not sure. Sheepshead Bay was supposed to be a fishing seaport. By the way they still catch great fish.

  7. I just wanted to reply to Brighton Resident (My reply button will not work!)  Behind the old winjammer was Max’s Bungalo’s.  A bunch of horrible, broken down little shacks with a dirt road leading down to the end of the block.  The “pool” (or as we called it) cabana club was a little further up Emmons, between ford and coyle streets – it was called the Palm Shores Club.  I forgot about that place.  And yes, once you said the supermarket was called Bernsteins, I had a flashback.  Do you remember where Bohacks was?

  8. I know that we went through all of this just recently – but I love the history and building of sheepshead bay.  We could talk about this all the time as far as I am concerned.  I remember that we had alot of fishing boats back when I was a kid.  I’ll tell you the truth, I’m kind of glad that most of them are gone now because the ships owners and crew made such a mess of the bay.  I used to walk by the boats on my way to work and I’d see them dumping their coffee cups, food and waste (paper bags and whatever) into the water, and the water actually stunk of garbage.

  9. You’re welcome!  Anything else we can help out with today?  You can always depend on your Sheepshead Bites family for an answer and/or an opinion!

  10. It’s true but our population is much more now as you know and there is more garbage in the bay then boats.  People are just plain sloppy that’s what it comes down to and they don’t take pride in the bay. It’s a problem 

  11. Amy, I went to Sheepshead at the same time as you and Bruce.  My name is Evan Canter.  Did we know each other?  I know I knew Bruce, way back to P.S. 52.  His mother (or sister) was a nurse (I think), and took care of my nose when I broke it in a game of football (no equipment) on the Kings Bay field that eventually turned into the hockey rink.  Get in touch if you want…
    Btw, I don’t remember a Bohack’s on Emmons Ave., but there was one on Ocean Ave. & Ave. Z

  12. Hi Amy! Great to hear from you!  I remember you and your brother Marty very well…I worked at the Marquis Room for several years, and my brother steven and sister Ilene worked there too…I hope life is treating you well…my email is if you’d like to fill me in!

  13. It is true.  The bay is filthy and nobody seems to care.  Makes me wonder what the entire area will be like in 10 years.

  14. I lived at 28th st and Voorhies Ave from 1960-1965. I spent a lot of time though along Emmons Ave. We used to call that area by Hickory-Q “bay end” and there was a hot dog stand near there where you could get a hot dog for 10 cents. I worked at a beach club that opened for a short time behing Hickory Q. The club was called Harbor East and either was a shopping Plaza first or became one. In the very early 60’s we used to play in the fields behind the Deauville. I think we used to call the fields “the cedars”. I recall that some kids had dug a hole about two or three feet deep and covered it with a carpet I think. It seems pretty scary now but you could slide down on one side and go under the carpet. Sheepshead Bay was still pretty undeveloped back then, especially the area from about Ave X & Nostrand to Shore Parkway and then from Nostrand all the way to Knapp Street. Those ” cedars” often had fires. I can remember so much more if anyone’s interested.  

  15. I went to PS 98 from 1960-1964. Before that I went to 254 which was down by E16th and Y. 98 became the early home of Kingsboro and then a yeshiva. In about 1961 or so, 98 was closed for a while major repairs were done due to fire hazards. We met a bus every day in front of 98 which took us to our temporary home at PS 225 in Brighton Beach. Max Weiss was the principal of 98.Does anyone remeber Manley’s house and yard on E28th between Voorhies and Ave Z?

  16. Great Pictures. I graduated from SBHS in 1964. Helplian I am trying to remember the name of an Italianl Restaurant on Nostrand & Ave T. Small place on l eft side of the street going towards Kings Highway

  17. I was on the school team when the baseball field first opened. My parents, Joseph and Shirley Zeisler, were heavily involved with the Kings Bay Boys Club. My father took 8mm movies of several early years of the Boys Club parades down Nostrand ave. in the ’60s, some “first pitch” tosses, and cool moments of Joe Ciervo (president) and crew. This brings back nice memories. Thanks!

  18. I lived on Bragg st between shore pky and emmons Ave 1967 lefrak building . Great memories going to hickory Q with friends at 10 yrs old . Record store was in that shopping center and I worked at top Val pharmacy delivering rx drugs on my bike . Greatest times ever . Especially plumb beach

  19. I had my 8th birthday party at the Hickory Q in 1961.Lived at 2644 Haring then we moved into Sea Isle right around the corner.

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