Guiding Principles of Managed Retreat

 Strategies Over Solutions

Visioning high level possibilities for the future and frameworking paths towards community resilience.


Climate Crisis is Here

Building Community knowledge to protect physical and mental wellbeing is essential


Proactive Planning

Must accept the future impact of sea rise and climate change to create community resilience


Maintain Community

Retreat from coastal areas will be necessary, but relocation does not equal loss of community


People Over Profit

Retreat will be costly, future human safety must take priority over capitalistic development plans


Right to Housing

Due to climate change, loss of homes will happen  secure transition to new housing is critical


Community is Diverse

To ensure a just, equitable transition underrepresented voices must be elevated and heard


Consensus is Hard

Diverse experiences and desires will make consensus difficult, understanding & empathy is vital

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A tribe related to the Mohegans of Connecticut sold most of Long Island, including the Rockaway peninsula, to the Dutch. They continued to live in the Rockaways for several decades, as few white men desired to settle at a location so far from the city with little arable land. In 1685, the band chief, Tackapoucha, and the English governor of the province agreed to sell the Rockaways to a Captain Palmer for 31 pounds sterling. In 1687 Palmer sold the land to Richard Cornell. Cornell and his family lived on a homestead on what is now Central Avenue, near the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.

A Place of Sands

Pre-Colonial to 1600s

Humble Beginnings as a Thin Sandbar



It is believed that from the 1500s-1800s the peninsula grew as a result of ocean currents pushing sand further and further west, forming first just a spit, then a ridge, and finally a piece of land substantial enough on which to build houses, roads and a subway line. The Rockaways formed a protective barrier that in turn allowed the marsh islands inside Jamaica Bay to form.

History of Edgemere & the Rockaways

In 1816 Rockaway Bath was built starting the Rockaway’s as a beach and resort destination. In 1833 the Marine Pavilion Hotel and Resort was constructed. The Marine Pavilion was one of the most luxurious hotels in the country at the time. 

Beachtown Boom

Early 1800s


In 1865, the Brooklyn & Rockaway Beach Railroad began service. It did not go all the way to Jamaica but instead  beach goes would take the train to Canarsie and transfer to a ferry would whisk them across Jamaica Bay to Rockaway Park, bypassing Far Rockaway entirely. By 1895,  the South Side Railroad linked Valley Stream directly to Rockaway Beach.  

Connecting to the Sea Side



Hurricane Midnight Storm

Atlantic Beach was attached to the Rockaway peninsula by a thin sandbar known as Hog Island,,  washed away in after this hurricane that  was taken back by the ocean then the 1893 hurricane with wind 115 mph producing  waist-high water and 30 foot waves hit the coast. 


In 1901, as public transit expanded into the peninsula,  the Rockaway's famous amusement park, Rockaways' Playland, was opened earning the Rockaways the title of The Playground of New York. The early 1900s marked the peninsula as a destination for fun in the sun. Businesses and economics boomed and was an economic high point, unparalleled to it's popularity today.

Fun & Sun



While middle class New Yorkers built their vacation homes, immigrant working class families, most particularly Jewish, Italian and Irish families began to build simple beach bungalows. By the 1920s, nearly 7,000 bungalows lined  edge of a five-mile-long boardwalk. 

Homes & Hideaways



In 1937 and 1939, three Robert Moses projects took shape in the Rockaways. The Marine Parkway Bridge, the Cross Bay Bridge, and Shorefront Parkway, as well as additional public transit links aids in starting the transformation of the area. The Parkway, cut through the neighborhood and called for the demolition of all structures within 200 feet of the boardwalk.

Linked to the City






Category 3 hurricane caused millions of dollars in damage and killed 10 people in New York City

Hurricane Carol



The 1950s brought about the Robert Moses era of slum clearing and urban renewal.The once blossoming beach town had fallen on hard times as vacationers shift to other beach destinations more easily accessible. Businesses close, resort hotels are either demolished or turned into apartments, and summer cottages become year-round housing of last resort for low-income New Yorkers.

Moses' Impact & Economic Decline



1951 - Arverne Houses with 418 units, is opened.

1955 - Hammels Houses with 712 apartments, is opened.

1961 - Edgemere Houses with 1395 apartments, is opened.

1965 - Arverne is designated an Urban Renewal Area. Barely winterized beach bungalows, are used to house poor families and individuals displaced from urban renewal sites elsewhere in the city had become a slum with conditions that were “as bad as in the worst ghettos,” according to the Department of City Planning’s 1969 Plan for New York City.

Poor in Isolation


Until the 1960s the Rockaways hough only a small number of the population of Queens, but after it contained more than half of its public housing. The housing programs effectively took the city’s most underserved residents displaced them as far as possible from the resources they needed.

Between the 1970s and 1990s the City acquires over 100 lots

in Edgemere.


In 1997, the City establishes the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area with the goal of developing over 800 units of affordable housing, new amenities, and infrastructure upgrade. Over 300 one- and two-family homes are completed in Edgemere.

Urban Renewal to Resilient Edgemere


New Development


2004 - Arverne-By-the-Sea Development opened. 

2012 - Arverne-By-the-Sea Development grown to include nearly 2,300 homes.





More than 1,000 structures are destroyed, and 10 feet of storm surge flooded the area. Residents lived for months without heat and with mold in their homes from the water damage.


New York City's  vision for the City leading to 2050. 


Goals for 2030, adopted by all United Nations Member States is a shared vision for people and the planet, now and into the future. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are an urgent call for action by all countries - in global partnership


NYC Plan for creating resilience in the face of climate change in the Edgemere community. 


The  framework for a comprehensive ambitious plan to combat climate change by creating millions of jobs in new green industries, transitioning our energy system,  and building new infrastructure.


*based on 2018 5-year American Community Survey Data  for study area census tracts

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*3/4 of the units are subsidized/ public housing

2 feet of sea rise


Sea Rise has Started

The sea has risen by about two feet. The effects are mostly not noticeable or impacting homes/businesses.


There is more regular flooding in low lying areas close to the coast. 

2-3 feet of sea rise


NYC Resilient Edgemere Plan
Surpassed by Sea Rise

Sea level rise is between 2-3 feet. The 2018 Resilient Edgemere Plan has come to the end of its usefulness. Some measures are still aiding the community, but sea levels are still rising and will soon surpass the predictions the plan accounted for.

3 feet of sea rise


Sea Impacts are Seen

The sea has risen by about three feet. The effects are of sea level rise are easily visible to the community.

4 feet of sea rise


Ground Transportation Impacted

Sea level rise has hit 4 feet at high tide. At 4 feet rise, most ground transportation is regularly inundated making public transit unreliable. Major impacts of sea rise are starting to impact the community. 

Sea Level Rise at 8-10 Feet

If we continue on the path of reactive planning the impacts to the community will be unfathomable

How could your choices impact the future?