2003-07-18 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views of the Rockaways From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke


Who Was NYC Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses, Trying To Kid?

Robert, "The Pharaoh" Moses….NYC Department of Parks Commissioner and Commissioner of everything else ….always stated that he did not want to make a Jones Beach II out of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway Peninsula. He also strongly denied that he wanted Broad Channel out of Jamaica Bay, and that Shorefront Parkway was not part of his egoistic highway from the Fort Hamilton section of Brooklyn…to Montauk Point out on Eastern Long Island. He also downplayed the extension of Shorefront Parkway through Arverne and Edgemere…to Far Rockaway and Atlantic Beach Bridge. In back of the Ocean Village project, signs used to read "Shorefront Parkway."

Moses also built the Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. This bridge, with a center span lift, could allow steamships to pass under it….to where? There were no steamship docks for steamers and cruise ships to dock at: so who was kidding whom?

He had a bird sanctuary built next to an airport with heavy traffic in and out, and wanted the new Crossbay Bridge (in 1970) to cross the Peninsula Railroad for the LIRR, to eliminate street railroad crossings, the "el" was constructed so….that with a few changes…subway or city rapid transit rolling stock – could use it!

Moses, in his infinite wisdom, also wanted to cut a canal to Woodmere Bay in Nassau County. Bannister Creek in that vicinity was dredged out with the better drainage excuse! "Old Mo" was a very patient man, and if he lived a thousand years, our place would be a vast wasteland full of dead waterfront dock space, bulk headed marsh islands filled with garbage, and by getting into the man’s head, like Robert Caro did in his book on Moses ("The Power Broker") he eventually would have filled in the greater part of Jamaica Bay for the airport (JFK) and a giant park on filled marshes. Just as he studied erosion of the beaches out on Long Island, he probably foresaw the death of Jamaica Bay, just as it is occurring today!

Today’s Historical View of the Marine Parkway Bridge crossing from Brooklyn to Riis Park, shows Fort Tilden, Roxbury….What’s that!…You say that is not Brooklyn and Rockaway!….Let me look again! How about that, you are correct! It is Robert Moses’ State Park at Fire Island, New York!

Gee Whiz! It looks like Riis Park, doesn’t it? Well doesn’t it? Yes or no? They do look similar in construction.

So this sort of proves my point that Moses told little white lies, and a lot of people were afraid to go back at him! When people did, Moses changed his tune…. sometimes. When it comes down to basics, anyone with a force of good engineers, unlimited funds, total secrecy, and not having anybody to answer to could have done the same thing as Moses. Anybody can knock down the hood and replace it with a ribbon(s) of concrete. Moe never drove a car or had a NYS Driver’s License to do so. He didn’t need one, as he built highways, General Motors, I believe gave him a new limo every year, with a chauffer!

ll that he built is slowly crumbling for lack of funding to repair or replace as needed. This I will give him credit for. He always built in paragraphs of legislation, in out-of-the-way places, to insure monies for upkeep and maintenance of his projects. The grass was always cut so as to not obstruct a driver’s view, junk and filth was not allowed to accumulate on his roadways, and rules were enforced to the letter. And the tolls he instituted did not go into the general fund or budget figures for the city!

Moses was a lot of other things too! But let the man rest in peace! The only thing he couldn’t figure out was that when he built another highway to relieve congestion on all others, the new road also got congested in a short time. So much for a Rhodes scholar! Ex-President Clinton was also a Rhodes scholar! So much for Rhodes! Aey! What!


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