The beach at Rockaway and its fashionable hotel, the Marine Pavilion was a favorite location frequented by affluent
Americans during the mid-nineteenth century. According to Benjamin Thompson, most famous for his History of Long Island,
Rockaway became the preferred locale for an increasing number of vacationers who wished to experience "fresh inspiration and
increased vigor by repeated plunges in the ocean." The lyrics of the song entitled Rockaway describe a romanticized view of
time spent on this Long Island shore.
During the pre-Civil War period the spot became a choice destination for members of the literary and art scene and this
particular song sheet represents a collaboration of three talented and important artists of the time. The ballad Rockaway,
with lyrics by Henry John Sharpe, Esq., and music by Henry Russell, author of L'Amico Dei Cantanti (A Treatise on the Art of
Singing, c.1830), is graced by a lithograph by the Hudson River School painter Benjamin Champney, know for his panoramic
views, landscapes and portraits. Champney's image is considered to be a contemporary view of Rockaway Beach that echoes the
signature dynamic vistas of the Hudson River School.
J. Bunce and R. Harmond, Long Island as America: A Documentary History to 1896, New York and
London, 1977; H. Dichter and E. Shapiro, Handbook of Early American Sheet Music, 1768-1889, New York, 1977; G. Groce and D.
Wallace, The New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860, New Haven and London, 1957,
p.118; The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music, Rockaway, available at
http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/otcgi/llscgi60 [accessed 11 May 2005]
Henry Russell, A Treatise on the Art of Singing, available at http://www.pdmusic.org/russell/treatise.html
[accessed 5 October 2005]; D. Tatham, The Lithographs of Benjamin Champney, Bulletin of the Society for the Preservation of
New England Antiquities, v.67, nos. 1-2, 1976; B. Thompson, History of Long Island from its Discovery and Settlement to the Present
Time 1784-1849, New York, 1918. G. Weeks, Isle of Shells, New York, 1965.
Link to Rockaway Metadata
Link to Rockaway Audio