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Howard Beach’s earliest inhabitants were Canarsie and Rockaway Indians, and, later, English settlers, all attracted to rich fishing sites at Hawtree Creek and Jamaica Bay. The area was called Remsen’s Landing during the 1770’s, after Col. Jeramus Remsen, its largest landowner and a Revolutionary War Regiment leader.
By 1900, Howard Beach earned the nickname “The Venice of Long Island” for its many waterways, and the name “Ramblersville” was adopted by residents along Hawtree Creek when a visitor remarked about the charm of the sleepy fishing village. The community takes its present name from a Brooklyn glove manufacturer, William J. Howard, who operated a goat farm near Aqueduct as a source of skins for his business, and who opened a hotel and cottage community around the turn of the century. “Hotel Howard” became popular with the rich and famous, and boasted a pier that stretched two thousand feet into Jamaica Bay. Though the resort was destroyed by fire in 1907, Mr. Howard went on to develop land in the area, and the first model home of “Howard Estates” opened in 1913.
The extension of the New York City subway system, completion of a sewer line, and the opening of Aqueduct Racetrack spurred a housing boom, generating a cluster of small developments, such as West Hamilton Beach, Lindenwood, and Rockwood Park, which comprise modern Howard Beach, an amalgam of private homes, cooperative housing, condominiums, and garden apartments. Cross Bay Boulevard is a vigorous and bustling commercial strip. The population is largely Italian-American and Jewish-American.
Library services to the Howard Beach community were provided by Bookmobile until April, 1963, when a rented storefront was opened at 155-12 Cross Bay Boulevard, the Library system’s 52nd neighborhood branch. In 1979, services were moved to the present location, a city-owned building at 92-06 156 Avenue.
Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. Encyclopedia of New York City
Ranft, Richard. “History of Howard Beach”, Queens Forum, June 13, 1997