1600's: The name Rockaway is closely related to the language of the Delaware and Chippewa Native Americans. Linguistic experts recognize both Reckonwacky, meaning "the place of our own people," and Reckanawahaha, meaning "the place of laughing waters," as the area's indigenous names. Following the region's European colonization during the seventeenth century, the present name was derived from these meanings. Other interpretations include lekau, meaning sand, and lechauwaak, for fork or branch. All interpretations reflect the historic and geographic traits of the peninsula.

1609: Henry Hudson began his search for a northwest passage to China. Hudson travelled north up the [New Jersey] coastline and anchored off Sandy Hook. Because early charts show tremendous change along the coast, from Coney Island to Jamaica Bay, it's not possible to remove all doubts in determining where Henry Hudson began his explorations on Sept 3rd. But we can propose with some confidence that it was the Rockaway Inlet, on the south shore of Long Island based on land descriptions entered in his log book. (Half Moon, D. Hunter)

1685: The Canarsie Tribe sold the most barren land to Captain Palmer with a deed granted by then Governor Thomas Dongan (1634-1715).

1687: Palmer sold the land to prominent iron master from L.I., Richard Cornell, whose descendant, Ezra, founded Cornell University in 1865. The family owned the land until 1808.

1808: A partition suit divided the plot into 46 parcels, which were eventually sold to outside investors. The Rockaway Association, a group of wealthy New Yorkers, bought much of the property and began to build exclusive resorts in 1833. Within two years, James Remsen bought a large portion of the Peninsula. Remsen initiated a railroad project connecting the neighborhoods of Canarsie and East New York. The new railway was intended to greet steam ferries taking passengers to and from Rockaway. The Rockaway Peninsula remained a beachfront resort town, providing hotels, restaurants, and housing. During the 1890s, a variety of amusement parks were built. In 1897, the Village of Rockaway Park was incorporated into New York City.

1893: The resort island of Rockaway completely and temporarily disappeared as a result of a hurricane.