Streetscapes - Then & Now



ca. 1910; 102-110 Rockaway Avenue (between W. Fairview and W. Mineola avenues)   

Frederick Ernst August Finkenstadt (1879-1954) immigrated to America from Wagenfeld, Germany in 1896. He first lived on 10th Avenue in NYC where he clerked for a grocer. In 1906, he married Wilhelmina Meyer. Two of their four children, Charles and Fred Jr., were born before the couple moved to Valley Stream around 1910. William and the youngest, Wilma, were both born shortly thereafter. Fred Sr. purchased three lots of land on Rockaway Avenue (Plan of property at Valley Stream, owned by E.B. Litchfield, by Olmstead & Fosgate, architect, Section 1, District 24) and opened a grocery store. The two-story brick building contained two stores on the ground floor and two apartments on the second floor. The family lived above the store. They rented out the other store and apartment to a tailor, their first tenant. 

Finkenstadt’s, located at modern-day 102-110 Rockaway Avenue, was on the west side of Rockaway, between W. Fairview and W. Mineola avenues. This block was also home to two other historic businesses: Lang’s Department Store and Edward Miller’s Paint Store. Lang’s, before opening their store at 214 Rockaway Avenue, was originally located in a house on the southwest corner of West Fairview and Rockaway avenues. Brancard’s Deli now stands on that land. The other well-known business on the block was Edward Miller’s Paint Store. This store, too, was located in a house, not a commercial building. Many structures on Rockaway Avenue were residential dwellings that later were converted into businesses, and still later torn down and replaced with commercial buildings. Edward's son Charles and Fred Jr., besides living next door to one another, were also best friends. They recorded a combined oral history recording for the historical society in 1987. 

The Finkenstadt’s were practicing Lutherans, congregants of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The churchgoers first met at the Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 on Corona Avenue (upstairs) before their church was built on Grove and Mineola (mostly all the churches and synagogues in Valley Stream first met at Hook & Ladder―one might say it’s Valley Stream’s first holy place!). 

The grocery, or delicatessen, also played a prominent role during Prohibition. Fred Sr. sold all the ingredients and utensils necessary to make beer, wine, or whiskey. It was legal to do so! 

After the tailor and his family moved out, Fred rented the space to Lester Blake, who operated a popular pool parlor. The pool hall was a big hit with the locals and is mentioned fondly in many oral history recordings. But, in 1921, Blake closed his pool hall and Finkenstadt rented the space to a home furnishings concern from Brooklyn. The space, which included an apartment on the second floor, rented for $50 a month.  

In 1925, or thereabouts, the Finkenstadt’s and their four children moved to 42 W. Mineola Avenue to a lovely house that claims to have been built in 1888 (according to the property card). It is around that time, I believe, that the original brick structure was demolished and replaced with a larger version of similar design. The property card for that location states that 102-110 Rockaway Avenue was built in 1928.  

The Finkenstadt’s were avid sport enthusiasts. Fred Sr. and two of his three sons, Charles and Fred Jr., were active in the Sago Athletic Club. The AC, which was formed in 1909, was one of the Village’s earliest baseball leagues - the predecessor to the Fire Department Vamps, Firemen’s Field home team. Many of the Vamps were originally Sago players.  

By 1942, Fred was out of the grocery business. He was 63 years of age by then, and took a part-time job working for Louis Ringhoff, who operated a nursery on Terrace Place. In 1950, at age 71, he was repairing oil furnaces. Fred Sr. passed away in 1954, two years after his beloved Wilhelmina. Both are buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale. 

Fred Jr. (1908-1991) was perhaps the best known offspring of Fred Sr. and Wilhelmina. In the early 1940s, Fred was the Valley Stream Republican Club’s financial secretary. In the mid-40s, he was elected Deputy Village Clerk and Deputy Tax Collector. His annual salary in 1948 was $2,914. Fred Jr., his wife Margaret, and their three children, George, Joy, and John, lived at 77 Beverly Blvd. They too, were laid to rest in Greenfield Cemetery.

1910 - Finkenstadt's Grocery Store (right) and tailor shop (left); modern-day 102-110 Rockaway Avenue

undated - interior of modern-day 102-110 Rockaway Avenue

December 4, 1920 - ad (Daily Long Island Farmer)

July 1918 - Sanborn Fire Insurance map

1924 - Aero-view of Valley Stream (Rene Cinquin)

ca. 1910 - Edward Miller's Paint Store, 112-118 Rockaway Avenue; located next to (south of) Finkenstadt's

In the mid-1920s, Finkenstadt's original grocery was torn down; in 1928, this brick building took its place (2021 Google Streetview)


In 1925, the Finkenstadt's moved from above the store on Rockaway Ave. to 42 East Mineola Ave.
According to the property card for this address, the house was built in 1888. 



Erected 1947
51 Roosevelt Avenue (Legion Place)
Raymond C. McGraime, Commander
Arthur F. O'Malley, Building Committee Chairman

The American Legion post was named in honor of Andrew Fatscher, who, in 1918, gave his life for his country. (His brother, Otto, also a soldier during WWI, died that same year from pneumonia.)

The post was originally located on South Corona and Fairview avenues. During the 1947 construction of the new building, the members used the "Hut," located across the road from the building site, on the corner of Cochran Place and Roosevelt Avenue.

The "Hut," was the nickname given to the Veterans of Foreign Wars clubhouse. The "Hut" was torn down when the VFW moved to Merrick Road. It was an empty lot for many years. That site is now home to a brand new three-story, 17-unit apartment complex.

Originally, there were four windows on the front of the building. Each window had a plaque on top with the years 1917, 1918, 1941, and 1945 — representing the start and finish of the two World Wars.

In 1970, the building suffered a fire. In 1972, it was remodeled, which included an addition.  

Streamers reminisce about the American Legion. Many remember playing Bingo there, working the refreshment stand, and attending Christmas parties for members and their families. A pool table and bar were located in the basement. Many high school fraternity parties and dances were held there. 

The windows have long since been covered up. Intact, however, on the windowless facade, are the four dates, representing the start and finish of both World Wars. They float above the faint outline of the windows, attached to nothing.

Photos from John H. Trunk (1903-1993), given to Helen Frering Zang (1915-1999) in 1990.
The Zang family gifted the photos to the historical society in 2022. 



June 12, 1947 - Roosevelt Avenue and Second Street (aka Legion Place)

June 12, 1947 - Arthur O'Malley, Building Committee Chairman (right)

July 20, 1947 -  Roosevelt Avenue and Second Street (aka Legion Place)

August 30, 1947 - Roosevelt Avenue and Cochran Place

December 2, 1947 - Arthur O'Malley, Building Committee Chairman (right)

January 18, 1948 - 51 Roosevelt Avenue

January 18, 1948 - Roosevelt Avenue and Second Street (aka Legion Place)

2015 Google Street View



   The library had three prior locations before moving to its final destination at 60 Verona Avenue:

 1932 - 58 Rockaway Avenue (Fairview & Lincoln avenues)

1935 - 254 Rockaway Avenue (Hawthorne Ave.)

1942 - 132 Rockaway Avenue (Valley Stream Blvd. & Mineola Ave.)

1962 - 60 Verona Place (Henry Waldinger Memorial Library)


The photo below is the library when it was located at 132 Rockaway Avenue (1942-1962). 

The building was built in 1927.

This was the library's third location. 

Although the building's facade has been altered significantly, the original, unpainted brick is still intact on the sides of the building.

Nassau Country Property Card Record

2014                                   1942    2014


Southwest Corner of Sunrise Highway and Mill Road

 In 1951, the Safeway Supermarket was the original tenant on the southwest corner of Sunrise Highway and Mill Road.  The photo on the left, from 1957, is not very clear, however, one can see the signage, which we believe to have been neon.  Although the supermarket is long gone, a little piece of it has endured.  The photo on the right, taken in 2014, evidences the very same sign posts, minus some height.  The double posts have been cut down, but remain standing, 63 years later.






East Merrick Road (at Railroad Street) - looking west  

early 1950s