|Friday, June 13, 1997 :: History :: 10051 Views ::
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The Leather Manufacturers National Bank also purchased acreage west of Hawtree Creek in 1897. It may be that they were the financial backer of Howard's ventures or a partner William Howard was the prime mover, a man of initiative and determination. While his grazing goats fattened themselves by munching on marsh grass within their sod pen, Howard commenced work on his next project, the Hotel Howard.
For the first two decades of the 20th century, enormous dredging operations were carried out in Jamaica Bay. Some of the dredging was to deepen the bay, its channels, and adjacent creeks. The sand that was dredged up from the bay was deposited on the marshes to raise the land. Dumping sand connected all the marshes of Broad Channel into one continuous strip suitable for home construction. Howard envisioned the same results for his marsh bordering Hawtree Creek.
From his initial venture to breed and raise Angora goats, William Howard also had short, middle and long-range plans for his marsh. In the short term the dredged sand would continue to be deposited on his marsh, eventually raising it above flood stage; this project coincided with Howard's goats.
Howard's mid-range plan was to build a pier and hotel over Jamaica Bay which would attract vacationers and nature lovers. His long-range plan involved the completion of the dredging operations" when his marshland had been filled and was ready to support home construction; part of this plan was the building of a beach on Jamaica Bay within a Howard-constructed park, as well as box-like streets upon which the Howard Estates Company would build and sell their first homes.
Late in the 19th century Howard began constructing his 2000foot pier out into Jamaica Bay from what is today 98th St. The hotel would be a three-story wooden structure with minarets and cupolas sitting near the far end of the pier Fourteen additional two-story bungalows, each with its own private dock, would be built north of the hotel. Ott the land end of the pier Howard built a gent rating plant which would provide electricity to his hotel.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature was taking a dim view of Howard's goats. The cold, wet weather did not suit the Mexican-bred beasts. Eventually a great storm roared ashore, flooding Ramblersville and Howard's marsh. The surging tides wiped out the sod corral, drowned the goats and swept many of the carcasses out to sea. The exact date of the storm is unknown, but a New York State record rainfall of 11. 17 inches fell in Central Park on October 9, 1903; such a storm surely would get Howard's goats.
Bill Howard did manage to build a brick building on Centerville Ave. in Aqueduct to cure his hides and make footballs. Local kids earned money at the Ravitch Leather Works stitching goatskins into footballs until 1925. Bill Howard is also the father of' modern football in South Queens.