2007-06-21 / Little Old Canarsie

Little Old Canarsie

The Willows Still Weep
John Denton

As we look back now in present day Canarsie with all the beautiful new homes and paved streets, we think of the time when we had all the streets and roads of just plain dirt and when it rained they were very muddy.

One of the things we had were plenty of beautiful trees such as weeping willows along Canarsie Road to the Canarsie shore after passing the large white house, home of the Cassata family. They also spread their fine shadows from Canarsie Road in front of the White House Hotel and picnic grounds and on part of Rockaway Avenue as far as the end of Steamboat Creek.

There are a few willows on Avenue M & East 94th Street left of what was the grove where the churches held their annual picinic. On Avenue L were many trees around the row of yellow homes, with the corner one (owner: Henry Butcke) covered with lovely French purple lilacs.

A little further down at East 92nd Street, the large home of the Dave Vreeland family, the yard was loaded with pretty flower trees and loads of wild cherry trees in the early summer.

When you walked on Avenue L to where East 91st Street is, you had a large tract of empty lots covered with white daisies where you could go and pick a bouquet of all you wanted.

Flatlands Avenue also had beautiful trees and many homes had lovely gardens, with some of the lovely azalea bushes. These all had to go with the widening of it when ten feet on each side was taken by the city.

On Avenue L, the row of yellow homes were replaced with a row of stores, and from East 94th Street to East 92nd, all the one family homes and the big mansion on the corner were taken down to build rows of stores and the new Canarsie movie house. Along with this went all the trees and gardens of pretty flowers to improve little old Canarsie in the name of progress.

We wonder sometimes about today's living with the paved streets with speeders and the slow living with the dirt street. Which was the better of the two?

So ends another chapter of Little Old Canarsie.

P.S. The part called Rockaway Avenue here is now named St. Jude's Place.

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