Chapter 30 – Revenge
After this defeat, Moses, with his power over parks, made plans to demolish the Battery Park Aquarium at Fort Clinton and replace it with a larger structure near the Bronx Zoo. Most contemporaries agreed that this was purely an act of revenge as it would effectively destroy Battery Park. Again, Moses cloaked his reasons for this development in false reports and surveys, as well as diminishing the value of the structure both aesthetically and historically.
In 1941, the aquarium and the Park was closed in order to start work on the tunnel.
As this was occurring during a Mayoral election, Moses began to pull political strings and threw his support behind La Guardia. The Mayor, once re-elected, felt bound to support him. A vote was cast in favour of demolishing the aquarium, but the fate of the underlying fort remained undecided. Moses stated that the fort had to come down as well as most of it had been largely demolished but upon inspection the fort was seen to be still there. There were moves in Congress to declare the fort a national monument. Moses moved quickly and prepared to demolish the fort, but an injunction arrived just in time to delay the demolition and allow time for the national monument bill to be passed.
The construction of the new aquarium however was to go ahead, not at the Bronx Zoo but at Coney Island. The cost, estimated by Moses as being $200M to be paid by the Zoo Authority, was on completion $11M to be paid for by the city. As the construction wasn’t completed until 1955, the cost of Moses’s revenge was not only in dollars, but also the removal of an aquarium facility for over a decade.
Analysis & Key Takeaways
- Monopoly power is best, especially if you are the monopoly owner; it doesn’t make it right, it just is.