Famous for its waterways, Howard Beach has been known since the early 1900s as the “Venice of Long Island.” The land that makes up the neighborhood today was originally settled by the Canarsie and Rockaway Native Americans, and later attracted English settlers for its fishing sites — particularly by Hawtree Creek and Jamaica Bay. William J. Howard, a Brooklyn glove manufacturer, purchased 32 acres of land in 1897 and began developing them.
The rest, as they say, is history…
Hawtree Creek attracted English settlers for its prime fishing. By the 1770s, the strip of water became a hot spot for the New World’s industry. That tradition stayed constant throughout the neighborhood’s history, as seen here in 1928.
The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1928 and remains one of the few volunteer corps in the city. This 1940s photo shows that the station house and hardware has changed, but the dedication and service to the community is still the same.