1904 - 1908 +
Nov. 1904: Several Brooklyn men interested in forming a yacht club contacted the West Rockaway Land Company; owners of new property in Belle Harbor, Long Island to purchase land in order to build a yacht club.
Dec. 1st, 1904: A group of boaters and yachtsmen mostly from Brooklyn, NY organized themselves and called a meeting at 8:30 pm in the Superba Rooms on Fulton and Franklin Ave, Brooklyn N.Y. The meeting was for the purpose of considering the organization of a yacht club. The organization would be known as the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. (Minutes from that meeting are archived)
"The majority of the members of the Belle Harbor Yacht Club are secessionists from the long-established Jamaica Bay Yacht Club who were angered because “Ed” Corey, former owner of The Haymarket, (a brothel) was elected Vice Commodore. They are all cottagers of Arverne, Edgemere, and Far Rockaway, and owners of some of the finest sailing sloops and motor yachts in the Jamaica Bay fleet.
So long as Corey kept beneath the surface of club affairs, members who objected to his membership were content to accept the explanation of his sponsors that they did not know of his Haymarket associations when put up for election. But, when persons whom Corey used to entertain at his Sixth Avenue resort began to call at the club, the membership was divided. This caused many members to resign their club membership and form a new club.
The Belle Harbor Yacht Club member's asserted, they will absorb the yachting prestige of Jamaica Bay before this summer is over." (NY Times, 4/24/1905)
1905: A grant [agreement] was made between the West Rockaway Land Co. and the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, stating that the grant was intended to convey 20 plots of upland and that to such extent the West Rockaway Land Company guaranteed. The purchase price for the Belle Harbor property was $4,000. which include 200 square feet on land. BHYC was granted corporation status by the State of New York on March 5.
June 17th, 1908: Inter-club Ocean Races of the Belle Harbor, Canarsie and Bergen Beach Yacht Clubs began. Each race was 15 nautical miles with 6 hour time limits and 2 of the 3 races would be around the Sandy Hook and Scotland lightships and back to the Jamaica Bay start/finish line. (NY Times, 8/23/1908)
1909 - 1922 +
1914-1915: BHYC hired club member and lawyer, Franklin Taylor Esq to investigate the property issues pertaining to the Club and New York City. (New York Times Article July 26th, 1914)
In the 1920's, before the depression, family activity at the club reached its first peak. there were 300 members were on the roll. There were multiple tennis courts and the BHYC was a member of the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association, playing matches with other clubs every Sunday. Social life was lively on the bay. Entertainment committees were always planning, they hired an interior decorator to make the clubhouse festive for dances and enlisted the steward to serve as a bootlegger for the parties each summer. Sailing, of course, was also a key activity. In 1921, the club hosted the 14th Annual Inter Club Races.
1922: The Yacht Racing Association of Jamaica Bay, L.I., N.Y. consisted of several nearby yacht clubs including Canarsie YC, Rockaway Park YC, Old Mill YC, Motor Boats of Jamaica Bay, Rockaway Point YC, Midget Squadron, Broad Channel YC, Diamond Point YC and the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. Boating Classes were given at each club, regatta racing fees were $1., to qualify for prizes, each entry must compete in at least 60% of all races. YRAJB headquarters was located at the Invincible Club on Herkimer Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.
1923 - 1959 +
1938: Among the most notable of events in the 1930's, not only at the B.H.Y.C. but in the country, was the great hurricane of 1938. Occurring before hurricanes were named, the 1938 storm is still today considered the strongest tropical cyclone to strike the northeastern United States since 1869. Along the East Coast of the United States (north of Florida) only Hurricanes Hazel and Hugo were more intense at landfall.
The storm of '38 (Category 3) destroys BHYC's 500 foot pier. The army corp of engineers re-supported the coast line with granite barriers. The title for this area was vested to the City of New York in February 1938. The NYC Economic Corp / Ports & Tunnels took authority and over the years transfer the management to the NYC Small Business Development . This is the land directly in front of the BHYC property.
1934-1959: Robert Moses was named NYC Parks Commissioner. Improvements in transportation, under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in the 1930’s, led to the population growth of Rockaway. The completion of two bridges, the Marine Parkway Bridge in 1937 and the Cross Bay Bridge in 1939, connected Rockaway to mainland Queens and Brooklyn. Innovations in railroad service and the development of the elevated subway allowed popular access to the peninsula. Subway access stimulated Rockaway’s transition from a vacation area to neighborhoods with permanent residents. Robert Moses oversaw the Beach Channel Park Project which included Beach Channel Drive. Mr. Moses was a supporter of coastal highway design. He changed Bayside Ave. (Cronston Ave.) as the main road between bridges to Beach Channel Drive, along the water.
1960 - 1970 +
September 12, 1960: Hurricane Donna (Category 3) pounded New York City with winds gusting up to 90 miles per hour, dumped five inches of rain, and flooded lower Manhattan almost to waist level on West and Cortlandt Streets (at the southwest corner of what later became the site of the World Trade Center). The water level at the Battery tide gauge (in lower Manhattan) registered 8.4 feet above mean sea level. Normal travel was disrupted as airports sharply curtailed service, subways shut down, and highways closed due to flooding. Hurricane Donna devastated the Rockaway Peninsula. This storm destroyed the BHYC floating dock and pilings and led to the construction of the bay wall in front of the club, in 1963.
Dec. 10th, 1964-Dec. 9th, 1971: The BHYC was given permits (yearly) by the NYC Dept. of Ports and Terminals to construct and maintain 30 linear feet of bulkhead, together with 1800 feet of upland inshore, together with 1800 square feet of lands under water outshore between B126 & B127 with a floating dock. Diagram on file.
1960's: Some BHYC members, looking to make a few bucks, rented out their homes in the neighborhood to vacationers and moved into the club's rental rooms during the summer months. The club was open 24/7 with a full kitchen and bar to accommodate these entrepreneurs.
1966: The Tri-State Transportation Commission recommended construction of the $35 million Shore Front Parkway. The Shore Front Parkway was slated for completion by 1975. Unlike earlier parkways built by Moses, the Shore Front Parkway was to be built through densely populated neighborhoods in the Rockaways that would have been sacrificed by its construction.
Milton Mollen, who in 1960 was counsel for the newly created New York City Housing Redevelopment Board, was deeply concerned: Mollen recalls, "He once called me to the Randall's Island headquarters of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) and showed me plans for building a new highway along Beach Channel Drive, but it would have displaced people who had already been relocated (from earlier Moses projects) with the promise they would not be moved for at least five years. He said he didn't care. They can be moved again. He left a legacy of distrust we're still dealing with". (Excerpts from www.NYCroads.com)
1968: Moses was removed from his NY State government position.
August 1970: BHYC holds their 5th Annual Family Regatta. A young, Peter Galvin wins the Junior Commodores Cup.
1971 - 2007 +
1992: Clubmembers pursued the possibility of installing a swimming pool to add to the benefits of membership. $25,000. was raised. After proposals were made, permits estimated, architect plans drawn (Drawing on file) and projected costs were discussed, the pool project was postponed until operating expenses could be met.
1998: During financial hard times, the Board voted to sell a portion of the property to pay off debt and renovate the BHYC building. Several investment companys and groups made offers but were ultimately voted down during a special meeting of the club membership. New found support and a membership drive in '99-'00, led by Kevin Ward, helped alleviate the financial difficulties.
Jan. 2003: At the Annual General Meeting, the newly elected board of directors devise a 10 year plan to stabilize the club financially, begin clubhouse renovations, create a social calendar and attract new members.
May, 28 2005: The BHYC celebrated their 100th Anniversary with a well attended Opening Day Ceremony and Party. Over 250 people celebrated the club's longevity.
Nov. 2006: The rear of the club caught fire and destroyed the rear of the building / kitchen storage area. The building was reconstructed and repaired within a few months.
Jan. 2nd, 2007: The BHYC gets a new "facelift" with a new interior look and repaired infrastructure. 1st floor carpet and old bar were replaced. The repairs are countless due to years of neglect. Major work and redesign will continue of the next 10 years.
2008 - Present +
Oct. 29th, 2012 - "Superstorm" Sandy hits the Rockaways. History repeats itself ... 1938, 1960, 1993 and now 2013 ... Hurricane/ Superstorm causes significant damage to the entire peninsula. Local residents took refuge at the club as water level rose and fires spread on neighboring blocks. Supplies from all over the country are sent to the club for distribution. Local Organization, Rockway WISH spearheads charity efforts at the club. BHYC becomes a community HQ's during recovery efforts. "Our doors never closed during this difficult time", stated by a board member. Club suffers $75,000 in damages, mainly in the basement utility rooms.
Feb. 2013 - Four months after Superstorm Sandy, the BHYC was back to "normal" club business. Damage to the club was extensive. Repairs continue.
May 2015 - Board plans to celebrate the 110th Opening of the BHYC. The newly renovated "Member's Lounge" opens to rave reviews. Dining room received major renovations. Entertainment calendar reaches 25 events. Membership peaks over 275.