Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rockaway Sunset Diner

News that the bank branch boom may be slowing down is music to my ears, but it comes too late for many.

The Rockaway Sunset Diner, formerly the Ram's Horn diner, was long a meeting place for the people of Rockaway. Different classes and ethnicities mixed and mingled there over pancakes and hot cups of coffee. In 2001, after the plane crash that devastated its community, the diner provided free food to rescue workers, and residents gathered there for comfort and connection.

The diner was demolished and in its place an HSBC bank is now rising.

One descendant of Rockaway told me, "It was called the Sunset Diner because it was right on the ocean, where you could sit and eat and watch the sunset. No one goes to a bank to see the sunset."

No one goes to a Duane Reade to see the sunset either, but now the people of Rockaway can do both, side by side. Aren't they lucky?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a drag. Went out to this site two weeks ago, didn't even notice this; certainly didn't know what the story was. Just to the left of the (obligatory, goddamned) Duane Reade behind the fence awaiting the (obligatory, goddamned) bank, is a quiet little spot looking out towards Jamaica Bay called Tribute Park. A small patch of memory, an oasis of solace for a city that suffered the twin horrors of 9/11 and the crash of Flight 587 that so devastated the city, that so marked this neighborhood.

It's a brief walk from here to the ocean side along Beach 116th Street, where a separate tribute to Flight 587 is awaiting before you reach the boardwalk. I took the A train out here, on an overcast, snowy Sunday, to ride in peace for miles over the water, to find a spot far enough away from the madness of the city center, and the destruction to our city's soul that we observe firsthand daily. I guess there's simply no place to get away from it, after all.

I'll keep looking.