|Friday, June 13, 1997 :: History :: 9111 Views ::
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William Howard also completed the Howard Cycle Path from Aqueduct to his park, paving Hawtree Avenue (99th St.) with Belgian blocks (cobblestones). The Cycle Path led all the way from the Rockaway Road (now Boulevard), where a piece of it still exists today paralleling the railroad on its west side, and known as Hawtree Street.
The first intersection south of the Old South Road in Aqueduct was Cozine Avenue (155thAve). About 100 feet north of the avenue Howard built two large, Gothic-style stucco columns, one on each side of the Cycle Path. Each tower stood fifteen feet high and was adorned with a large flowerpot. A rainbow-shaped sign ran from column to column, spanning the road, and announcing the entrance to Howard Estates.
The Cycle Path then entered Cherry Forest and made its way south onto Hawtree Avenue for the next eight straight blocks to the park
Hawtree Avenue/The Cycle Path, was the only road into Howard Estates at the time. Cross Bay Boulevard was 15 years away and still a distant dream. Even 157th Avenue, so commonly used today, was not made a through street all the way to the railroad until the early 1960s. So the old Cohancy Street entrance (formerly the Colonial Road to Remsen's Landing) was the first main drag in town.
The fancy towers, flowerpots and the rainbow-shaped sign did not last too long. The sign was first to collapse; the winters killed the flowers and the towers had so rotted out by the 1930s that local kids finished them off easily.
Along Howard's now-completed streets and sidewalks were planted thousands of tiny poplar trees, fast-growing and sure to provide the shady streets the founder intended. In 1912 there were 500 homes in all Howard Beach, but only five on 99th Street and none further west. All the homes were in Ramblersville, West Hamilton Beach and east of the railroad in East Hamilton Beach, South Aqueduct and The Hollow, a tiny community nestled against the east side of the railroad five hundred yards south of Aqueduct station.
Howard started a horse and buggy shuttle from the Ramblersville station to display his first five homes on 99th Street to prospective buyers. The teamster would point out all the great real estate buys, vacant lots and waterfront acreage, along the route. The customers would tour the length of99th Street over its bumpy cobblestones, with the buggy proceeding south to show off Howard's fine park and beautiful Sand Beach. The cobblestones lasted on Deer (101st) Street until the 1950s.
Howard's company erected fourteen artistic bungalows in 1912. They were sold almost immediately and soon occupied. The homes catered to people of modest means who wanted a home near the water, but with easy access to the big city. The cost, from $2,000 on up, was a real bargain.