Daily Pager

A blog about culture and politics

The Bungalows of Rockaway

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The Bungalows of Rockaway is an independent documentary now airing on PBS stations.   It’s a great piece of nostalgia for those who have lived, spent summers or just visited Rockaway Beach.

A popular summer resort, a rival to Coney Island, once existed along the Rockaway shore, replete with wide beaches, a long boardwalk and honky-tonk amusements. The first bungalow went up in Rockaway in 1905; by 1933 over 7000 covered the peninsula. For decades, the bungalows were affordable summer rentals for working-class vacationers, largely Jewish and Irish immigrant families. Today fewer than 450 bungalows remain.

Narrated by Academy-Award-winning Estelle Parsons, the film tracks the lifeline of the Rockaway bungalows. Sparkling, funny, and sometimes moving interviews with former bungalow residents bring the bungalow heyday to life; a trove of archival stills and unseen footage from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, such as that of the Marx Brothers and their families frolicking on Rockaway beaches, show viewers what a delightful and treasured summer experience Rockaway was for thousands of immigrant families.

The film also traces the roots of the “bungalow” as a form of vernacular architecture to colonial Bengal (current-day Bangladesh) and its journey to the United States where, in the words of Columbia University professor Andrew Dolkart, the bungalow came “to epitomize the architecture of the working class.”

Watch some video here.


Rockaway film is a hit with locals

Preserving bungalow communties


Written by dailypager

September 17, 2010 at 1:11 am

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