A seashore topographical outline of our Island today vs. 1880

The other day I posted a competition-proposed idea of turning the medians along the boulevards in Long Beach into channels, which would apparently relieve flooding during future storms (read –What do you folks think of the ‘Channels along boulevards of Long Beach to prevent flooding’ idea?).

In that post, I mentioned how Long Beach once had inlets and natural channels; little did I know our barrier island was more manufactured than I though. With that, A reader named Joseph sent in the image of our Island with the following caption:

This is a map of some of Lido Beach to the west end of Long Beach created in 1880.  The green highlights illustrate today’s seashore topographical outline.
Some of Northern Lido was originally a marsh island in the bay which was dredged in half, and filled into the inlet South of it. (This is between today’s Bob Jone’s Canal- and the Middle School.)
There’s another inlet visible approximately at New York Ave.

The map might be slightly hard to read, but you can click on the image for a larger view.



New Map Added: I was told this was around 1880….




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10 thoughts on “A seashore topographical outline of our Island today vs. 1880”

  1. The inlet at NY was the original “Debs Inlet.” According to “A History of Long Beach” by Edward Graff. The first European resident of Long Beach Island was an oysterman named; Davenport “Debs” Wright, who was granted permission by TOH in April 1869 to build a house on LB. In April 1870 a storm broke an inlet through the Island in the vicinity of New York Ave(The Western end of the boardwalk) and this became known as “Debs’s Inlet.” The inlet gradually worked its way West to where it is now and is known today as “East Rockaway Inlet.” But, many people stil call it Deb’s Inlet.

    The land was fluid until built up by Reynolds just look at Fire island inlet that is filling in while Sandy opened up a new inlet on FI.

  2. A very clear map of the shape of Long Beach can be seen in this slightly later reprint of a 1903 USGS topographical map:


    (The USGS cleans house every once in a while and anything they’re getting rid of they sell for a dollar or two on their website. You can get gorgeous full-size historical maps of your favorite places for next to nothing.)

  3. I did not know the history behind the name Debb’s but always wondered. I must ask though, Are you sure it is the inlet near NY Ave that was called Deb’s? In every historic chart I have seen, that inlet is charted as Hog Island Inlet which makes sense to me because it is right near the entrance to Hog Island Channel and Island Park (Historically called Hog Island, at the time it was a summer resort community that was swept away during a hurricane). The Inlet that runs across Lido Is charted as Luce’s. I have an incredibly detailed survey map from 1880 I’ll have to dig it up and post. I believe there was another inlet on there somewhere between Hog Island Inlet and what is now East Rockaway Inlet, which at the time did not exist. Infact there was a continuous beach from present day Atlantic Beach well into Far Rockaway like Brian’s 1903 map shows.

  4. I collect maps of the shoreline, and I have many but I never saw the one posted here. Where did you find it?

    From what I’ve seen, Debb’s inlet was used interchangeably with East Rockaway Inlet. Hog Island would, in later years attach itself to Edgemere, creating the Bay of Far Rockaway. On the west end of the Bay, a small passage joined it with Jamaica Bay at Edgemere’s Beach 32nd Street.

    When you view these old maps, remember that much of this land was very low-lying. Either meadows, swamps or sandy flats that washed over at high tide. So the outlines varied tremendously depending on the tide. The high land at Long Beach consisted of two dune lines, much as you’d see at Nickerson Beach, along what would today be Broadway and slightly north. The Inner Beach was also a wooded island as was one high point near today’s Riverside where the very first wooden bridge crossed the channel.

    The suggestion of open drainage channels is an interesting one that was rejected in civil engineering for many decades. They were considered inferior to closed sewers or drains because they encouraged vector problems (mosquitoes), standing water (stink), varmints, (rats) and dumping. Properly designed and maintained they could have a great place in a community. But remember that water runs in all directions and a rising water table will bring those channels right to your bedroom!

    Interesting thread. Someone tell me where that base map can be found.

  5. The one you added is from 1880. But the first is the most detailed one I’ve seen. Since the shoreline was subject to very frequent changes, few detailed maps exist. There are two good topographical maps from 1892 and 1905 tar are all over the Internet, but they are on a small scale. Once shows the railroad that ran to Point Lookout. It had a 100-foot long trestle over the wash near Roosevelt Boulevard.

    The “Inner Beach” seen in the top map at the northern edge of Long Beach was an island before Long Beach was filled in and contained its own train station long after that – up until 1932 called Queenswater. That’s where today’s utility plans are near the old incinerator. Up until the 1960’s there were a number of original buildings – former hotels – that served bay fishermen back when it was an island.

    The first wooden bridge that followed the train trestle prior to 1922 crossed that island and ran into Riverside Boulevard. Long Beach Boulevard was Catherine Street before the “million dollar” 1922 bridge was built there.

    So much a map tell us. Also interesting was the wreck of the Mexico in 1837 off the coast near today’s Lincoln Boulevard…

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