9. In its first year, the bridge increased vehicular traffic on Rockaway Peninsula by more than one million cars
Before the opening of the bridge in 1937, the Rockaway peninsula was difficult to access by motor vehicle, requiring a tedious drive around Jamaica Bay. As an alternative to driving around Jamaica Bay, city beach-goers could take a ferry. With the opening of the bridge, New Yorkers could more easily catch a bus to the beach or take their own cars to Rockaway Peninsula. In 1938, nearly 1.9 million vehicles crossed the bridge. Today, the bridge sees increases in crossings of up to 50 percent during summer months, linking city-dwellers to refreshing Atlantic beaches.
Rockaway beach has been in the news lately, with local officials warning about the ongoing lifeguard shortage and the city’s decision not to staff a portion of Rockaway beach. Beachgoers are permitted on those sections of the beach for recreation but are not allowed to swim. Unfortunately, two teenagers drowned at Rockaway Beach on June 17, 2022. Mayor Eric Adams stated at a press conference that he is considering implementing less stringent lifeguard qualifications to address the shortage and prevent more drownings.