2006-09-14 / Little Old Canarsie

Little Old Canarsie

Moving The "Huts" For The Belt PKWY
John Denton


When they decided to fill in the Jamaica Bay shorefront in Canarsie, the city banned the taking of shellfish from the bay due to pollution from the many sewers emptying into it. When some of the oyster planters who had small huts on Ruffle Bar Island, about three miles from Canarsie, there was no further use for them.

One of the owners, John Schmelk, known as "Curly John", brought about three of them on flat scows and placed them on new foundations on E. 87th St. between avenues L and N.

The bungalow nearest the creek had a foundation about four five feet high. Canarsie native Ray Ryder lived in it for many years, even when the new grade of the street came and all filled in.

Then the late 1930's, a new highway was to be built along the south Brooklyn shore into Queens, which was going to be named Circumferential Parkway, but later changed to the Belt. Many homes and squatter shacks along Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay were taken over, and either had to be torn down or purchased by someone, as they only needed the land for building the new parkway.

A couple of men interested in buying them and moving them here in Canarsie went to Sheepshead Bay when they were put up for auction, and one man living on Ave. K near E. 94th St., Mr. Morgan, had one moved and placed on a new foundation between E. 94th St. and E. 93rd St. It's still there. Another man, Mr. Lewis of Conklin Ave., bought three of them and had them moved to Canarsie and put on new foundations on Glenwood Road and East 96th St. Some of these had an extension put on or reshingled and are nice looking, as if they were built new right here.

So, all together, there are seven homes that were not newly built here, but are part of old Canarsie. When the Belt Parkway opened on July 1st, 1940, and engineers gave the names to be placed on it, such as here at Canarsie, the right cloverleaf called "Westbound" and around the circle the other clover leaf called "Eastbound" beside the names (Circumferential).

Many fenders were bent before getting on the right part, because the river going to Coney Island did not know whether he had to go east or west, and came to a quick stop. If there was a more simple sign, With an arrow saying "Coney Isle" or "Bay Ridge", he would have known lie would be going right for either place. On the other entrance, the sign could have an arrow "To L.I" or it. Besides, if you asked the driver the name of the parkway, he couldn't tell you.

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