2003-08-07 / Little Old Canarsie

Before We Were Canarsie We Were Sands Bay

Before We Were Canarsie We Were Sands Bay

We can’t help but go back to the days around the early 1920’s, when the well-known section of Canarsie was called "Sands Bay", which had a creek winding its way in from Jamaica Bay just about the side of the creek called "Fresh Creek" running up to Flatlands Ave. under the small bridge there as far as the tracks of the B.M.T. Railroad. Sands Bay Creek ended just about 150 feet north of what is now Ave. N and E. 98th St. Most of the board walks over the meadow land in order to reach the various homes, which were more or less built on large stilts scattered all over the area, started at this point. When high tides flooded the entire area, some of the homes would get water up to the floor and sometimes the board walks would get covered with water that the residents found it hard to get to their homes. Many good times were had by these people who had parties and invited lots of guests from the city for a weekend so they could enjoy the lovely sea air, and go fishing and crabbing out in good old Jamaica Bay until the City Servers were coming in strong about being purified and good old Jamaica Bay was told that no more shellfish could be taken out after April 1st 1920. And right after that, about 1921, they started to pump up sand from the Bay and shut out access to the Bay when they filled up Sands Bay Creek and Indian Creek, at E. 87th St. and Steam-boat Creek alongside of what is now Rockaway Parkway from the Belt Parkway to about St. Jude Place where the Creek ended.

Some of the well-known families of what consisted the Sands Bay Area were: Pop Ritter and sons Frank and Mike, Geo. Shupp and family, the Angevine and Hitchler families, Vasser the Ice man, the Sellars family, the Chuck Snyder (oil man) family. Bon Herman family, Walter Bogart family and Pete Claude family. During Prohibition days until the 1932’s, who could forget the good times had in "Big Dukes" or "Big Johns" on a weekend. In the winter months, when all the swamp area became flooded with water from the Bay when it froze over, residents and guests had a great time skating, with one spot open with all the wild ducks in the water.

What a great stretch of ice to skate on in those days. And now all of this is gone except a few scattered homes of old Sands Bay, and now all built up with brick homes of the southern end of Seaview Village.

And so another Chapter of Little Old Canarsie comes to an end.

P.S. The names I mention here are from my memory. If I didn’t get all the old timers, please excuse me.

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