Shelter Houses and Bathing Pavilions Inundated at Coney Island––Yachts Drag Their Anchors in Gravesend Bay Brighton Beach Track Escapes. Streets Along the Shore front Flooded.
A perfect deluge of rain struck Coney Island last night and drove out the few pleasure seekers that went down in the afternoon. The tide rose to an extraordinary height and old Coney Islanders remarked that they had not seen such a flood in many years. The huge breakers dashed up over the concourse and the shelter houses at the foot of the boulevard were surrounded.
This morning the Ocean House, belonging to the Brighton Beach Racing Association, and adjoining the Brighton Beach hotel property, was situated on an island. The waves rushed in under the Seaside Elevated Railway structure with terrific force, sweeping everything before them, and an opening in the beach was beaten through the Ocean House site. The hotel is situated on an elevated strip of land, and although it had a narrow escape last night it will take a storm and tide much more severe to do it serious damage.
Contrary to the reports in the morning papers the Brighton Beach race track was not damaged and racing will not be discontinued to-day. No reports were received at either the Coney Island or the Sheepshead Bay police stations of any accidents. The beach from Sea Gate to Brighton received a clean sweeping and owners of clam boats and refreshment stands had great difficulty in keeping their property from being washed out to sea.
The boats of the Brooklyn and Gravesend Bay Yacht Clubs, lying in Gravesend Bay, dragged their anchors for some distance but none of them went adrift. At sixty-first street and New Utrecht avenue, Bath Junction, the warer has formed a lake nearly fifty feet wide. Poor drainage is the cause of the flood at this point and residents will send complaints to the city works commissioner.
The heavy rain swelled Coney Island Creek until the banks overflowed and the water covered the surrounding meadows reaching points that were never touched before. Along the line of the West End Railroad, between Gravesend Beach and Coney Island the water rushed the steps at the entrance of the negro shanties, wood piles were set afloat and cellars were f1ooded.
Along the coast from Sea Gate to the Oriental Hotel the absence of a strong wind prevented any serious damage. The tide was up very far on the beach, however, and had there been a severe southeast wind much damage would have been done to the bathing pavilions and houses along the beach.
The Brighton Beach Music Hall was washed on the westerly side by the waves and unless something is done to check the advance of old ocean, next fall will see the destruction of the theater. The lawn in front of the Brighton Hotel is practically ruined by the salt water
At Manhattan and Oriental there was little if any damage. This is not unusual for the high tides have not in recent years had any effect upon the hotel property. The Rockaway bar shelters both hotels, but its protection is spent when Brighton is reached.
At Bath Beach, Fort Hamilton and Bay Ridge the tide was also high, but no serious damage was done. The were several washouts along the line of the shore driveway and a few at Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Fort Hamilton and Bay Ridge, but this was due to the absence of sufficient catch basins.
EFFECTS OF TIDE AND RAIN ON LONG ISLAND'S SHORES
(Special to the Eagle.)
Rockaway Beach, L. I.– The storm which has been raging for the past two days along the Atlantic coast developed here yesterday afternoon into a veritable gale, and while the damage has been slight the danger has been great. Huge breakers threatened at 6 o'clock to destroy several of the leading pleasure buildings along the beach, but the falling tide prevented any very serious damage. At Hillmeyer's pavilion, on the iron pier, the situation at one time was alarming and arrangements were made to remove all articles to a place of safety. During the afternoon the immense seas broke over the pier, and as the pier has been structurally weak since its damage by the great storm of last September, when fifty feet of it was torn away, much apprehension was felt for its safety. When the tide subsided the danger passed.
Near Schilling's Adas Hotel, at Seaside, a small stand, 20×30, was damaged to a considerable extent by the waves. During the night the storm increased in vigor, and the old residents were on the qui vive. Murray's Grand Ocean pavilion situated on the surf, withstood the shock of the great seas which battered against it.
The tide both in the ocean and bay reached an unusual height, yet the damage was insignificant. People passing along the boulevard were treated to a magnificent sight. Far as the eye could reach out upon the ocean the curling breakers threw clouds of spray many feet into the air, and the pounding of the waves upon the shore could be heard for miles around.
Edgemere, L. I.*–The strong prevailing southwest wind has raised an unusually high and boisterous tide all along the Long Island sea coast. Here at Edgemere the surf breaks on the shores with great violence and the constant roar of the immense breakers is like successive discharge of heavy artillery. At extreme high tide the waves rushed far beyond their usual limits. The violence of the breakers was such as to deter all but the hardiest bathers from taking their customary dip in the boiling surf. As far as the eye can reach there is a sheet of snow-white foam showing where the angry waves break on the shore. The spray is dashed high in the air in a cloud of mist.
The excessively high ride and pounding of the giant breakers has injured the board walk considerably the heavy planking about the bathing houses was wrecked and in many places, so great was the strength of the waves, the timbers were broken and displaced. The guests at Edgemere are all enjoying the rare spectacle and consider themselves repaid for being cooped up in the house and losing their daily dip in old ocean.
East Rockaway, L. I.–The storm last night was the worst ever known at this season of the year. It was feared that serious damage would be done to oyster houses on the bay, but they seemed all right this morning. A large number of boats were set adrift and bay-men and oystermen were busy this morning searching for their boats and getting them bailed out and in shape for use.
Bay Shore, L. I.–Latest reports concerning the effects of the terrific storm of yesterday, show that no very serious damage was done. The low lands along the bay were flooded to a considerable extent. At the bathing pavilion at the foot of Clinton Avenue the high tide did some serious damage, washing away part of the pier. Of the shipping in the bay, the yacht Maude S., Captain Wilbur Smith, fared the worst. It banged against the Ocean Avenue Dock until a large hole was stove on the side. The electric lighting wires suffered some and new ones are being placed this morning. There was a brilliant display on Main Street just after dark where the wires became crossed owing to the high wind which was blowing.
Stony Brook, L.I.–It has rained heavily and unceasingly here since 11 o'clock Monday evening. The farmers hereabout report that the oat crop, which was nearly ripe, is totally destroyed. The wheat that was standing at the time the rain began is beaten level with the ground and will have to be cut with the sickle. Garden owners have also suffered severely. The oldest inhabitants state they do not remember ever having seen such a heavy fall of rain.
Easthampton, L. I–There was an unusually high tide here yesterday, the surf reaching nearly to the bath houses. The fishermen east of here sustained heavy losses in nets and fishing traps, which were carried away by the strong tide and surf. Notwithstanding the fact that the weather signal station here displayed the fair weather flag all day a heavy storm raged last night, the rain falling in torrents and the wind blowing a gale. Many of the farmers have heavy crops of hay cut on the fields. It will be damaged by the water.
Northport, L.I.–The heavy downfall of rain Monday night and all yesterday did considerable damage to the roads. It will cost the village $500 to place the roads in as good condition as they were prior to the rain. At times it was impossible to cross Main Street, which had the appearance of a small river. Several roads were badly washed out and on School Street, near Woodbine Avenue, was a gully six feet wide and three feet deep. Several cellars were flooded and some houses were damaged by the rains leaking in.
Greenport, L. I.–The storm and hurricane of last night was the severest of any July in the memory of the oldest inhabitants here. Thus far little damage is reported to shipping, but the loss to the hay and wheat crop is considered very heavy. Many farmers had just cut their hay, which was out of doors and is now soaked by the constant rain. The wheat, although not cut, has been laid flat, and will be much damaged. Bathing houses, signs and conservatories have been considerable damaged. High tides have prevailed.
Lynbrook, L. I.–The storm last night did considerable damage to crops especially corn, which it beat down badly. Rye and other grain was mostly cut and in shocks or stacks, and will not be seriously injured. The rain came too late to save the potato crop and farmers are predicting very high prices for potatoes later in the season.
Long Beach, L. I.–The storm reached its height last night and the waves came up the beach with tremendous force, but they had no perceptible effect upon the sand and no damage of any consequence resulted. It was feared that the new road would be damaged by the extraordinary high tide, but, to all appearances, it was not injured in the least.
Quantities of debris and wreckage came up on the beach and Captain Van Wicklen of the life-saving service was kept busy looking after such of it as was worth preserving. The beach was lined beach-combers in search of valuables.
Bay Shore, L. I.–The storm is decreasing in violence to-day, although for thirty-six hours the rain was pouring steadily down in floods. A violent gale which swept over here, taking everything in its course, yesterday caused considerable damage. Along the beach across the bay the surf broke over the shore as it is seldom known to do in summer. The tide was unusually high and those who live near the shore suffered much inconvenience from it.
*A former resort that extended from Beach 32nd to Beach 52nd in the Rockaways.
Excerpted from the Brooklyn Eagle. July 14, 1897.
The Brooklyn Public Library has the Eagle’s19th-century archive online.