Chapter 9 – A Dream
The population of New York City was increasing rapidly in the 1920s. Green space and vacant land was being sacrificed to tenement housing. The need for housing was conflicting with the increasing desire for leisure. The Model T Ford had started to roll off the production line and the increased income of the population meant that more people had leisure and the mobility to use it. However, their mobility was restricted. There were limited green spaces outside of the city and getting there was difficult. The streets were narrow and there were no bridges across the Hudson; Ferries had to be used. The few local parks became as busy as the city the people had escaped from. However, there were bridges across the East River to Queens and Brooklyn, and beyond them was Long Island.
Long Island was a perfect place to escape from the city, but the locals strongly resisted non-residents visiting or buying land. Long Island was also the place where the powerful robber barons had settled and they wanted their privacy. The did everything to repel the general public, especially from the beautiful beaches of North Shore and Long Island Sound, where many of the rich had their mansions. This usually consisted in blocking main roads with armed guards and allow many of the minor roads to fall into disrepair. Despite all these inconveniences, New Yorkers flocked to Long Island. To Reformers, Long Island was the land of opportunity for parks and leisure. The two main problems were: how to obtain the land, and how would people get there?
Moses wrote a report to support the establishment of a Parks Authority on behalf of the New York association with revolutionary scope. He urged a bond issue of $15M to support permanent improvements to conservation and recreation.
Al Smith had little appreciation of recreation, but he did respond to graphic presentations; what it would look like. In 1922, Moses persuaded Smith to visit the sites he had in mind and used his eloquence to paint the picture. Smith agreed to support the necessary legislation but not until 1924, after the next election. However, the plan was supported by voters and the press. The Governor soon realised that supporting parks would help him in the election.
As Moses travelled around Long Island in 1923, his vision expanded to include 30,000 acres of parkland connected by numerous parkways and highways. Moses gained booth Smith’s and Belle Moskowitz’s approval. Smith offered to make Moses President of the Long Island State Park Commission. Moses accepted.
Analysis & Key Takeaways
- Moses reported under Al Smith and believed that the government should be help accountable between elections. The governor has spending power through the legislature; state interest in expenditure will lead to more democratic engagement. Illustrate your ideas with visuals;
- Robert Moses did his homework to map out the enter park plan as well as the entire infrastructure plan with the bridges;
- Do your homework to understand the situation before making decisions; Moses understood how the government worked and memorized the structure of that government. Invent a new organization to gain influence and then raise a Bond offering in the MUNIs to circumvent the budgetary constraints that others have imposed on you;
- Issuing bonds and or generating revenue from tolls gave him the ability to avoid accountability or balancing against the system; Raise Bonds for New Projects: Bonds for various projects like a bridge. West side project would cut a neighborhood in half…it would condemn several homes. River dale community was not consulted. Moses would destroy the lagoons near the cloverleaf of river dale.