Breezy Point is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, located on the western end of the Rockaway peninsula, between Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay on the landward side, and the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community District 14. The community is run by the Breezy Point Cooperative, in which all residents pay the maintenance, security, and community-oriented costs involved with keeping the community private. The cooperative owns the entire 500-acre (2 km2) community; residents own their homes and hold shares in the cooperative. Breezy Point and the Rockaways are less urbanized than most of the rest of New York City.
Breezy Point Tip, to the west of the community, is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, which is run by the National Park Service. This isolated, 200-acre (0.81 km2) area includes an ocean-facing beach, a shoreline on Jamaica Bay, sand dunes, and marshland. It is a breeding spot for the piping plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and common tern.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of the combined area of Breezy Point/Belle Harbor/Rockaway Park/Broad Channel was 28,018, an increase of 1,307 (4.9%) from the 26,711 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 2,033.88 acres (823.08 ha), the four neighborhoods had a population density of 13.8 inhabitants per acre (8,800/sq mi).
The racial makeup of the neighborhoods was 78.3% (21,946) White, 7.5% (2,095) African American, 0.1% (29) Native American, 2.1% (595) Asian, 0.0% (8) Pacific Islander, 0.2% (66) from other races, and 0.9% (259) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.8% (3,020) of the population.
However, according to the United States Census Bureau, the community's ZIP code (11697) is 98.2% white and has the nation's 2nd highest concentration of Irish-Americans, at 60.3% as of the United States Census, 2000 (Squantum, in Quincy, Massachusetts, is #1, at 65%). The community's demographics are maintained as a result of a Cooperative rule that a person, prior to buying a house, must be recommended by three members of the Cooperative and approved by its Board of Directors. Breezy Point functions mainly as a summer get-away for many residents of New York. Estimates put summer residency at 12,000, while year-round residency was 4,337 in the most recent Census.
Due to its history of Irish-American population, Breezy Point has been called the "Irish Riviera." Since the mid-1990s, Italians and Jews have also moved into Breezy Point, making the concentration of Irish-Americans drop.
The community began as summer beach bungalows, in the "early 1900s", according to the New York Times. Breezy Point was sold to the Atlantic Improvement State Corporation for $17 million in 1960. The residents of the community purchased half of the land for approximately $11 million and formed the Breezy Point Cooperative. Today, it consists of about 3,500 homes. The construction of apartment buildings commenced in the late 1960s and was halted by City ordinance.
Breezy Point is patrolled by its own private security force that restricts access to owners, renters and their guests. It also features three of New York City's nine remaining volunteer fire departments.
On October 29, 2012, Breezy Point was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean flooded the land between these bodies of water. Most Breezy Point homes were damaged or destroyed by high water. Residents lost everything in their basements, and hundreds of vehicles were ruined by the storm. One car caught fire when someone tried to start the vehicle. Residents put the fire out before help arrived.
At 10 pm, a six-alarm fire was reported at 173 Ocean Avenue. Local volunteer firefighters were trapped in place for several hours due to the flooding. Once the waters receded, the Rockaway Point Fire Department rescued more than 41 civilians. FDNY was delayed getting into Breezy due to the high flood levels. Roxbury FD extinguished fires by the promenade. Rockaway Point and Roxbury are located on the ocean side. Rockaway Point lost all of its rigs due to high water, and helped Roxbury with its lines. They found 130 homes burned to the ground. Nearby, another 50 homes were damaged by the fire. According to an official report in December, rising seawater caused the fire by contacting a house's electrical wires.
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According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, beaches on the Breezy Point peninsula are home to one of the most diverse breeding shorebird areas in the Metropolitan area. Shorebirds that breed here include:
The beaches in Breezy Point Tip are owned by the federal government and are federally and state-protected areas in which development is extremely limited. The beaches in Breezy Point are owned by the Breezy Point Cooperative as a consequence of litigation with the federal government in the 1980s.
Notable current and former residents of Breezy Point include:
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