OLDNYC.COM--> Virtual Tour --> 63rd Drive to Fleet Street Picture Gallery #4

Here is the baseball field that was talked about in Picture Gallery #3.  Why there was so much land in this particular area for the Rockaway Line is a mystery to me.

Interesting to note that there are no "official" New York City park signs for this park.  I wonder if the City or the Rego Park community financed and built this park?

Neil Sullivan, a frequent contributor to Oldnyc.com, writes: "I was also wondering why there was a lot of land.  I believe the area just north of Fleet Street where the private ballfield is located was an on line industry.   Just north of the bridge you will see evidence of where the southbound track was cut and where the springswitch was installed."

Mitchell E. Pak has some additional information for Oldnyc.com readers: "My information is that the baseball field is operated by the Forest Hills Little League. When I was in elementary school, there were four such baseball fields running alongside the Rockaway Beach tracks between the Whitepot Underjump and Fleet Street. The first three were open, but the fourth one, which was well-kept and usually locked, was used for official Forrest Hills Little League games. The other three ball fields were practice fields. I think the field shown here was the biggest one - the second one. I think those fields were built by the City after the Rockaway Beach Branch was abandoned because all that land was available."

Oldnyc.com contributor Ken Feder explains: "Having grown up in Rego Park, Queens in the late 1950's/early 1960's, I played little league baseball in the Rego Park league.  The ballfields were located on Fleet Street, and I can remember seeing the LIRR go slowly by on its way south toward the Rockaways."

Oldnyc.com contributor Bernard Ente has another take on the history of the ballfields: "You asked why there was such an open parcel of land where the baseball fields are.  I have seen old maps that show a trailing spur coming off the westbound track and going down into the field area towards Fleet Street.  This was a sand pit and a lot of material must have been taken out. There was also a facing siding off the westbound track on the south side of the Fleet Street bridge.  You can still see the ROW if you know where to look.  Once again, this was for a sand pit."

Oldnyc.com Evan Katz adds: "I grew up in Rego Park, alongside the abandoned Rockaway line, on Boelsen Crescent.  Like a number of your contributors, my friends and I co-existed with the fields, but we never knew much about them.  I collect my reminiscences, and some thoughts follow: The tracks were inactive and not electrified as far back as I can remember, which would be 1971. We also called the area by Fleet Street "the fields."  As far as I know, the steel staircases that one of your readers mention are still there.  "The fields" were used by dozens of kids who lived in the crescents as a shortcut when walking to Forest Hills High School. "The shortcut," which we also called it, was so well-used during this period (1976-1979) that there were well-worn paths, and you would almost always run into other people using it for the same reason.  In the mid-seventies, there was a LIRR helicopter that patrolled the old ROW, but I think they were more interested in the live tracks that the old ROW come up upon.  There were rumors of kids being shot at with "salt pellets" from people in the copter, but I suspect those were just stories.  But I definitely saw the copter many times, and I heard on several occasions someone in the copter directing people below to get off the LIRR's private property.  By the time the late-seventies rolled around, there was no more copter.  The land was and is used by the Forest Hills Little League, but I have no idea what the legal arrangement is. At some point in the last five years, the Little League has become more aggressive about fencing in and protecting their property. As soon as they fence up access points to "the shortcut," people cut the fence open."

Further along the route, we see that residential houses line the eastside of the right-of-way.  Some people have taken the liberty of extending their backyards in to the railroad right-of-way.  These homeowners are not going to like it very much if there "private" sanctuary one day becomes an active railroad.

Here is a shot of the first overpass along the route.  This is the Fleet Street overpass (formally known as the White Pot Road overpass, when Fleet Street was once named White Pot Road).

This picture was taken at road level, but still on the railroad right-of-way.

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