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Rockaway’s Hog Island: A Summer Paradise Lost to the Sea

In the late 1800s, Hog Island was a beloved summer vacation spot for New Yorkers looking to escape the heat and bustle of the city. Located off the coast of Rockaway, Queens, this small island was a paradise for those who could afford to spend their summers there. Among them was Josiah Lamp, the founder of the Union Square Lamp Company, who owned a summer house on Hog Island. However, this idyllic retreat was not meant to last. On August 24th, 1893, a massive storm hit the area, washing Hog Island away into the sea and taking with it the homes and memories of those who had spent their summers there. This is the story of Hog Island, a summer paradise that was lost to the sea.

History of Hog Island

Hog Island was likely formed as a sandbar in the 19th century, becoming part of the Long Island archipelago and the New York Bight that stretches from Cape May, NJ, to Montauk. Named for the small population of feral hogs left by native and colonial farmers, it was a small, picturesque island that quickly gained popularity as a summer vacation spot for wealthy New Yorkers.

Josiah Lamp, the founder of the Union Square Lamp Company, became associated with Hog Island a few years after the company’s founding. He purchased a summer house on the island, joining the ranks of other affluent individuals who had also built vacation homes there.

As Hog Island grew in popularity, it became a hub of summer activity, with beachside picnics, boating excursions, and other leisurely pursuits. It was a place where city dwellers could relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, all within easy reach of New York City.

Rockaway Beach in 1903
Rockaway Beach in 1903

Hurricane of 1893

The disaster of 1893 struck Hog Island with little warning. The night of August 24th, a massive hurricane swept through the area, unleashing powerful winds and waves that battered the small island. Josiah Lamp, daring adventurer that he was, bravely assisted in the evacuation efforts, helping to save as many lives as possible. Despite his valiant efforts, the storm raged for hours, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

All of the buildings on Hog Island, including the summer houses and boathouses, were completely destroyed. The wrath of Poseidon had washed them away, leaving nothing behind. The boats moored an the island were also destroyed, with many of them capsizing and sinking; one boat was found almost half a mile inland.

The aftermath of the disaster was devastating. The once-picturesque island was taken by the sea, with not a single building or boat remaining. The people who had called Hog Island their summer paradise were left with nothing but memories of the place that had been so cruelly taken from them. Tragically, none of the wreckage was ever recovered, and Hog Island vanished into the sea, never to be seen again.

Excerpt from New York Times
Excerpt from New York Times

The Aftermath of Disaster

In the years following the disaster, Hog Island was almost completely forgotten. As Rockaway, Queens became more developed and incorporated into New York City, the small island that had once been a popular summer destination faded into obscurity. Vacationers began to travel further down Long Island, seeking out new beaches and resorts to enjoy.

As the years passed, Hog Island became a distant memory, mentioned only in old newspaper articles and the occasional history book. The Union Square Lamp Company, founded by Josiah Lamp, continued to thrive, but the connection to Hog Island was largely forgotten.

Today, very few people know about the existence of Hog Island, and even fewer know about its brief but eventful history. The island that was once a summer paradise for wealthy New Yorkers is now just a footnote in the annals of history, a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the power of nature.

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Legacy of Hog Island

Hog Island was a small but significant part of the history of Rockaway, Queens. During the late 1800s, it was a popular summer vacation spot for wealthy New Yorkers, including Josiah Lamp, the founder of the Union Square Lamp Company. Despite its idyllic setting and the many happy memories it held for those who visited, Hog Island was not immune to the forces of nature. In 1893, a massive hurricane struck the island, washing it away into the sea and taking with it the homes and memories of those who had spent their summers there.

Today, Hog Island is all but forgotten, remembered only in the occasional history book or old newspaper article. Its legacy, however, lives on as a reminder of the enduring impact of natural disasters on communities. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, including Rockaway, Queens, causing widespread destruction and reminding people of the power of nature. While Hog Island may be gone, the memories of it remain, and the lessons of its destruction continue to be relevant today.

Are you a history buff looking for a unique and meaningful way to support a good cause? Look no further! Our “Hog Island ’93 Survivor” t-shirts are the perfect choice. These shirts commemorate the legacy of Hog Island, a beloved summer vacation spot that was tragically lost to the sea in 1893. Not only will you be sporting a fashionable and interesting conversation starter, but you’ll also be supporting “The Human Fund,” a charity that works to improve the lives of those in need. Get your “Hog Island ’93 Survivor” t-shirt today and make a difference while honoring the past!

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