Once a Long Island shipping center, East Rockaway is an attractive village that covers only one square mile. It was once the home of MLB player Reid Gorecki, as well as Hollywood actors Don Murray and Brian Keith.
Originally begun as a shipping and trading center for Long Island's south shore, East Rockaway developed into a center for local milling, thanks to the construction of a grist mill in 1688. Since then, perhaps the oddest story in East Rockaway's history concerns the bell from the local bell tower which was stolen by a high school student during the 1960s. For some reason, the bell still hasn't been replaced. That's not to say that things don't happen here. The historic East Rockaway docks, for example, were renovated in 2005, and historic 19th century structures such as the Village Hall and the Grist Mill Museum are not only renovated; they're also open to the public. With a population of 9,818, the town has a thriving business community, tons of civic pride and plenty of beautiful parks and recreational centers for the locals to rejoice in. It's one of those towns that celebrates Arbor Day (complete with plenty of local press) and holds annual Easter egg hunts where everyone actually shows up. As for that missing bell, maybe East Rockaway feels that it's more important to maintain its funky, semi-modern/late-Victorian village ambiance than to worry about replacing an oversized bronze bell that probably kept everyone awake all night anyway.
Moving to East Rockaway
Located just 42 minutes from New York City, East Rockaway is easy to get to by car or moving van, and is located near I-95 and I-295. Don't start to worry about getting overwhelmed during your apartment search, because the entire area only covers around one square mile. The good news is that, whether you're looking for rental houses, apartment homes or duplexes for rent in East Rockaway, you won't have to search very hard to find what you're looking for, because this area is loaded with attractive rental properties.
What You'll Need
Other than your personal identification info (driver's license, state ID card or passport), you'll want to have proof of either current or future employment on hand, so that your landlord will know that you're good for the rent. If you're renting from an apartment complex, you may also be subject to more formal procedures such as a credit history check. Keep this info where it's easily accessible so that you'll be able to dig it up as soon as it's needed; otherwise, you might miss out on a deal.
When to Move
The only thing that might dictate your move up here is weather conditions. If you want to take your chances with the snow, avoid moving during the winter months; otherwise, there's no prime renting season up here, and rental availability stays pretty much the same year round.
Rather than specific neighborhoods, East Rockaway locals navigate by referring to certain sections of town. Once you get there, you can use local landmarks to help you decide if you want to live near area retailers and restaurants or right on the waterfront. Here are some popular local residential areas to consider:
Bay Park: Located near the famous canals, this picturesque area is especially popular with boat owners. You'll find older houses here, many on lots that are somewhat smaller (because of the canal area) but still large enough for comfort.
Main Street: This central area of town is home to 16 Main Street, an attractive urban condo complex with large rooms and on-site laundry facilities. It's close to food vendors such as Carvel, Bagel Gourmet and Jeanie's Bakery, as well as amenities such as CVS and Chase Bank.
Local Apartment Complexes
Atlantic Avenue: In this area, you'll find a number of attractive rentals, including Crescent Apartments (290 Atlantic Ave), a luxury apartment/condo complex featuring modern kitchens with granite counter tops. It's also close to amenities such as Centre Thai Bistro, the Village Convenience Store and the East Rockaway Village Hall.
Ocean Avenue: In this area, you'll find residential houses both for sale and rent, as well as rental properties such as St. Regis Apartments (40 Ocean Ave), all located near conveniences such as CVS, Stacy's Deli and Grocery, Party City and Carvel Ice Cream.
Living Like a Local
East Rockaway has a moderate climate with mild summers -- July temps peak only near the mid-80s, while January highs hover in the upper 30s. You can expect around 23 inches of snow every winter; just enough for a decent snowman or two. When you need to get out and about, you can rely on NICE, the Nassau Inter County Express bus, which connects with the Long Island Rail Road to take you into New York City.
What to Do, Where to Go
One great way to meet other locals is to visit John Street Complex (17 John St), which offers classes in everything from art to boating. It also boasts a super fitness complex where you can do yoga, work out and indulge in other ways to get healthy.
Love history? Check out the Grist Mill Museum (Woods Ave), a 325-year-old structure that tells the history of the area's milling industry. If you'd rather spend the day relaxing, do what the locals do and head over to Bay Park (1st Ave), a 96-acre village oasis with tennis and basketball courts, a cool roller rink, boating piers and even a nine-hole golf course. If you prefer an 18-hole course, you'll find one just minutes away at Seawane Club (1300 Club Dr, Hewlett Harbor), which boasts what many consider to be one of New York's best (and certainly most picturesque) courses.
Food and Drink
Thanks to its harbor location, East Rockaway has several excellent seafood restaurants, including the aptly-named Reel (1 Main St), which serves up fabulous seafood platters and a killer lobster martini (you don't drink it, you eat it). There's also a deck with spectacular views, so come at sunset. Another locals' favorite is Centre Thai Bistro (268 Atlantic Ave), which specializes in spicy Thai delicacies such as shrimp hot pot and pineapple duck. Time for a drink? Head over to Croxley Ale's Great American Ale House (7 S Park Ave) for their huge selection of artisan craft beers.
East Rockaway may be a village, but it certainly isn't sleepy. It has a sophisticated, upstate New York vibe that energizes you, and a natural beauty that's endlessly refreshing. Who knows, maybe they'll even get around to putting a bell back in that tower someday.