The first mention I can find of the Empire Bottling Works in Rockaway Beach, Queens New York, is this advertisement that appeared in several 1899 issues of a local newspaper called “The Wave.” Likely located somewhere along the Boulevard east of Division Avenue (now Beach 82nd Street) the advertisement named L. Kasten as the proprietor.
The Kasten’s were Rockaway Beach hotel owners around the turn of the century so its possible, though I can’t confirm, that the bottling business was originally associated with the hotel, a common practice around that time.
In 1905, with Kasten no longer involved, the Empire Bottling Works registered as a corporation in New York State. The company’s incorporation notice was published in the June 10, 1905 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Nathan Goldberg was named as one of the four original directors and apparently the one actively involved in the management of the business. A Russian immigrant, prior to establishing the bottling business Goldberg lived on Second Street in Manhattan where he listed his occupation as “hotel keeper” in the 1900 census records.
This advertisement published in the June 16, 1906 edition of “The Wave” located the business on Hammels Avenue (now Beach 85th Street) which was likely at or close to the original Kasten location (Boulevard, somewhere between Division and Hammels).
Then, in June, 1906 Goldberg purchased the property on the corner of Boulevard and Division with the intent of moving his plant. The purchase was reported in the June 16, 1906 edition of “The Wave.”
Mrs. Jane Jennings has sold her property at the Boulevard, corner of Division Avenue, the plot being of 66 (feet) frontage on the Boulevard, with a depth of 105 feet, to Nathan Goldberg, of the Empire Bottling Works.
The plot contains the meat market building and four flats of Jennings & Sons, stables and an ice plant. The consideration was $20,500 for the realty and $2,500 for the accompanying outfit of horses, wagons and machinery.
Mr. Goldberg will not take possession of the premises until October 15th, and at that time will install the plant of the Empire Bottling Works.
Before Goldberg could move his operation the business suffered a fire. It was reported like this in the September 5, 1906 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”
Shortly before 7 o’clock this morning an explosion of a gasoline stove set fire to the two story frame building at 27 South Hammel Avenue, Rockaway Beach and caused $2,000 damage. The fire occurred in the apartment of Henry R. Williams, a tailor. The house was occupied by Mary Smith as a laundry. The flames spread to the two adjoining buildings, occupied as a dwelling by Nathan Goldberg and by the Empire Bottling Works. The buildings are owned by Charles Seymour, of Flushing.
According to a quote attributed to Golldberg and published in the September 15, 1906 edition of “The Wave,” the fire had little impact on business.
We had a mighty fine season. The fire which sort of crimped us at the finish had nothing to do with our business.
By the following spring Goldberg moved the operation to his recently purchased plot on the corner of Division and Boulevard as evidenced by this March 30, 1907 advertisement in “The Wave.”
Later directories and tax certificates between 1907 and 1927 listed the business on Division Avenue (later named Beach 82nd Street) near Boulevard. At times they also used a Boulevard address (both 497 and 522 were listed at various times).
The 1913/1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory of Brooklyn and Queens continued to associate Nathan Goldberg with the business listing him as president of the company. His son Samuel, a lawyer by trade was named vice president.
By 1928 the business was listed at 75-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard which was technically just outside of Hammels. As far as I can tell Goldberg’s wife Yetta was listed as a widow in the 1930 census records so its quite possible that the business ended around that time. The company was not listed in the 1940 Queens phone book. (I don’t have access to any directory information from the 1930’s.)
The bottle I found is 27 ounces and machine made.
On a final note: This labeled bottle recently appeared for sale on the internet. The label named the Empire Bottling Works of Rockaway Beach as the local bottler for Koehler & Co.s Fidelio Beer. Information on Koehler & Co.and Fidelio Beer is available in more detail within another post on this site. Fidelio Brewery, New York