2001-05-05 / Columnists

Historical View Of The Rockaways

Historical View Of The Rockaways

What Has Moses Wrought?

By: Emil R. Lucev

After New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses’ ego destroyed the Rockaways, new postcards with photos of places here about all but disappeared. Seaside lost all its advertisements, and there wasn’t one public bathhouse for beach goers. Shore Front parkway replaced the beach facilities for visitors from Beach 73 Street to Beach 108 street.

If Moses was not opposed by the general residents of the Rockaways- west of beach 108 street- Shore Front Parkway (the road from nowhere to nowhere) would have gone as far as Beach 169 street and the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Memorial Bridge. If Moses had accomplished this, the boardwalk would have been extended westward to Riis Park- from Beach 126 Street.

Moses also had plans to continue Shore Front Parkway eastward along the beachfront- to the Atlantic Beach Bridge!

His ego drove him to build the Robert Moses Causeway, from the Verrazano Narrows bridge to Montauk Point, out on Long Island’s east end. Rockaway peninsula and Jamaica Bay were to be his Jones Beach II. Although he denied it, Broad Channel was to be destroyed- for Moses ego. Rockaway Point was to be the site of a huge housing project.

To get back to the original subject, only a few picture and postcards were published. Most were of Playland.

Several Riis Park postcards appeared, as did a few of Shore Front Parkway. Nursing homes in Arverne and Far Rockaway published cards, along with Wavecrest Gardens apartments. The Cinerama movie organization published cards in many languages featuring the Rockaway Playland Atom Smasher Roller Coaster.

Thus ended the picture postcard era for the Rockaways … what was there left to promote besides a brick building or a paved roadway?

Today’s historical view is of a postcard of Shore Front Parkway after its opening in 1939- for Robert Moses and visitors to the 1939 world’s fair at Flushing-Meadow Park in northern Queens.

The card was put out by the Terminal Operating Corporation 97 Street Beach shop, one of the three food, drink, souvenir, and first aid/ comfort stations in the area.

Take a good look and notice how ship-shape (if you will) everything looks!

This is the only thing I gave Robert Moses credit for. Whatever he did build, he made sure there would always be funds for upkeep and repair for the projects that he oversaw! Flowers were always planted, grassy areas were regularly cut and trimmed, and tall weeds were never seen growing at any of his projects! His bridges were painted and not allowed to deteriorate, as were his roadways and over/under passes.

Shore Front Parkway once had fenced center malls, which were planted with flowers. Flower gardens abounded between the boards and shorefront. Recently, planted trees died on Shore Front. I wondered why?

Today’s photo was taken from the crossover wooden bridge over Shore Front between Beach 94 and Beach 95 Street.

Does anyone have a photograph of this wooden bridge for historical views?

At center right in the photo, the Playland light tower and roller coaster can be seen.

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