How Robert Moses Shaped The “Long Island,” He Misunderstood

Robert Moses

Photo: By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: The Beginning) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Without a doubt, no person in the history of New York had a more significant impact on the development of Long Island than Robert Moses. Although Robert Moses’ legacy reached far beyond the landscape of Long Island, it was the relationship between the five boroughs of New York City and Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties that formulated the growth and limitations of the life of the Long Islander in both a social and environmental sense. Robert Moses is well known for the many parks he built on Long Island, but it was the roadways to those parks, and his elitist attitude, that cemented his reputation as the most important builder in Long Island history, and significantly, the most ignorant!

Historians have varying views on Moses’ true intentions for the development of Long Island. Completed in 1975, Robert Caro’s renowned book, The Power Broker, takes a harsh look at Robert Moses. In an interview with Newsday in 1988, Caro stated that Moses’ intention was to develop an Island that housed only middle class to upper class people.[1]  It was that viewpoint of Caro’s that spurned a backlash to Caro’s book in the 1980s led by Columbia University Professor Kenneth T Jackson. Nonetheless, no matter what the reasons were behind Moses’ development of Long Island, most people cannot live on Long Island without spending a significant amount of time in an automobile driving on one of the roadways that Robert Moses’ built. The lifestyle that most Long Islanders live has been formulated by no one more significant than Robert Moses.

To understand where, why, and how a man formulates his ideals is an important step in analyzing the legacy and impact of a man such as Robert Moses. Robert Moses was born in 1888, in the town of New Haven, Connecticut.[2] Robert Moses’ father owned a department store. When Robert Moses turned nine, his family moved to a luxury apartment near Fifth Avenue in New York City.[3] Robert’s mother was a German Jew that became very involved in the settlement house movement at the turn of the century. Robert Caro made it clear in his book, The Power Broker,that Bella Moses had soon become more interested in the physical building of projects based on the settlement house movement, rather than the philanthropic issues that faced the poor immigrants needing help at the beginning of the twentieth century.[4] Robert Moses’ future building aspirations seem to have been deep rooted in his family genes.

Robert Moses

Photo: By C.M. Stieglitz, World Telegram staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Robert Moses attended Yale University from 1905 to 1909. It was at Yale in which Moses’ began to formulate small clicks of friends and colleagues in which he became the dominant leader. Caro argues that it was in those cliques that Moses’ developed his need for power that would later play a pivotal role in his life.[5] In 1909, Moses began studying at Oxford University in Cambridge, England. In the early twentieth century, Oxford was a University attended by the wealthy and privileged.[6] Oxford was a conservative institution with a philosophy on teaching public service.  The public service taught was founded in the British philosophy of wealth and power of the highly educated governing over the public in a somewhat condescending fashion.[7] Moses wrote in his own book, Working for the People, that he had great admiration for the philosophy of British Civil Service.[8] In a film clip from Rick Burn’s documentary on New York, Robert Moses said to the camera in arrogant fashion, that the public did not know what was good for them.[9] It was a comment that showed Moses’ belief in the arrogant British philosophical views of the wealthy.

Robert Caro suggested in his book that Robert Moses believed that American leadership should only be ruled by men who attended Yale, Princeton, or Harvard University.[10] It is within the core values of Robert Moses’ upbringing and education, from his mother’s beliefs, to his Oxford University graduate thesis, which set in stone Moses’ ideals that would eventually lead to development of the present day landscape of Long Island, New York.

An important factor in the development of the Long Island parkways was the desire of many wealthy city people to take up a country residence. Wealthy people were enticed by the beauty of Long Island’s North Shore. [11] The hills of green, and the blue waters of the Long Island Sound enticed the building of lavish mansions along Long Island’s North Shore. The close proximity to perhaps the most important city in the world was also an enticing factor to a Long Island residence.[12]  In the present day, the proximity to New York City is the one of the most significant factors in the role of the Long Island and New York City relationship.

In the late nineteenth century, the growth of the country club would play a significant role in Long Island’s road development. In 1895, The Meadowbrook Country Club was built on Long Island. Along with the Meadowbrook, many other prestigious Long Island country clubs were built. The sport of the aristocrat had previously been hunting, but the new country clubs were offering a more socialized form of sporting activities.  In Thorstein Veblen’s, Theory of the Leisure Class, Veblen gave credence to the British concepts of aristocracy and superiority in defining that “sports played at elite county clubs were played by those superior to the working class.”[13] The country club movement began as a weekend retreat into the country for rich city people. The movement would eventually become a focal point of suburban life, and become the catalyst for a growing movement of many wealthy people to change their place of residence from the city to suburbia.[14] At first, the railroad brought the wealthy urban population out to Long Island. Eventually, the retreats to the county, and to the county clubs of Long Island, would demand a better built system of roads between the streets of New York City and the majestic grasslands and oceans beaches of Long Island.

Robert Moses

Photo: By Daniel Case [Public domain]

Robert Moses’ had discovered Long Island after his parents had given him a house in Babylon. While living in Babylon, Moses explored the entire Island and fell in love with the beauty that the land presented.[15] In 1924, Robert Moses became head of the Fire Island State Park Commission. As commissioner, Moses developed a plan to build a seaside resort at Jones Beach. Moses argued for the development of a parkway that would lead to the resort. Moses wrote, “On the South Shores of Long Island, there are miles of ocean front beaches now inaccessible except by small boat. If the islands between these beaches and the mainland were bridged by an adequate state parkway, thousands of acres could be made available for public use.”[16] It was at that point in time in 1924, when plans for the building of Northern State Parkway began.

The Northern State Parkway had originally been designed by the Roosevelt Memorial Association to link a park at Oyster Bay, Long Island to the New York City line in honor of Theodore Roosevelt.[17] Moses argued that the parkway should include a connection to link the parkway to the ocean at Jones Beach.[18] Moses’ plan to build the Northern State Parkway system was immediately opposed by the wealthy people who had moved out onto Long Island during the previous twenty five years. Moses called them “the most snobbish and reactionary community in the United States.”[19] Many of the wealthy estate owners protested to Governor Al Smith to stop Robert Moses from building a parkway close to their estates. Realizing that the Governor and New York State were behind Robert Moses’ parkway development plans, the wealthy Long Island land owners began a battle with Moses to prevent the planned Northern State Parkway from running through their estates.

Thomas Hastings formed a group of wealthy land owners to oppose Moses. The group also included Robert W. De Forest and Colonel Henry L Stimson. Both Stimson and De Forest were men of power and influence.[20] The two men also owned land in the Wheatly Hills section of Long Island. While representing many other landowners in the area, the men argued that the planned Northern State Parkway would be significantly detrimental to their lands. De Forest attempted to pull Long Island’s regional planning director Thomas Adams on to the side of the landowners. Moses wrote to Robert De Forest and explained that it would not look good for Forest in the public eye, if it seemed Forest was attempting to derail a public works project for personal gain.[21]

Years of court battles and fights for political positioning in the newspapers and public opinion continued in the parkway battle. In the New York Times, Robert Moses lectured on the reasons for building his parkways,

In its acquirement of the land on Long Island necessary to the establishment of a comprehensive system of parks and parkways, the State of New York through the Long Island Parks Commission, has sought to look a long distance into the future and to provide for the requirements of future generations by the purchase of land at the valuations of today. These valuations in our opinions are but a fraction of the higher values of the future. [22]

Eventually, a compromise was agreed upon between Moses and the landowners. Many of the wealthy landowners agreed to contribute large amounts of money to New York State in exchange that the Northern State Parkway would utilize a five mile detour around the Wheatly Hills section of Long Island.[23]  Robert Moses’ official biographer, Roger Cleveland seemed to imply in his book, Robert Moses, Builder for Democracy, that both Moses and the landowners got what they wanted in the end, even though the Northern State Parkway five mile detour looked unusual from an aired or map point of view.[24]  Nonetheless, it is what Rogers left out of book that the historian may find even more interesting.

Robert Caro argued that while Robert Moses attacked the wealthy landowners in public, it was in private that the wealthy landowners found Moses to be quite easy to deal with.[25] As Cleveland Rogers also stated, both Moses and the landowners were able to compromise on the parkway routing problem. Nonetheless, the public would have been appalled at some of the deals that Moses made with the rich landowners. Moses agreed to keep the lower class city population away for the landowner’s estates by making sure there would be no exits from the parkway, close to the owner’s lands.[26] Moses also swore that he would force state troopers to keep the city traffic moving along the parkways without letting any cars pull over to picnic or explore near the land owners estates.[27] Moses also had exclusive bridges built over the parkway for use of the estate owners only, all at New York’s expense.

Landowners such as Congressman Ogden Livingston Mills, Colonel Henry Rogers Winthrop, Colonel Henry L. Stimson, Robert W De Forest, and Moses’ own relative Otto Khan were all able to use their power of influence and money to get the Northern State Parkway route shifted away from their estates. In the public eye, Moses appeared to be fighting for the people. Nonetheless, it was behind closed doors that Moses made deals that would forever change the urban driving experience of the Long Islander.

The farmers who owned land in the same controversial area, but did not own the same amount of money and power, were not as successful in getting Moses to reroute the Northern State Parkway away from their farms. Many of the farmers who owned land, begged for the same bridges Moses built for the wealthy, but they all were denied. Without the bridges, the farmers could not farm their land efficiently.[28] The farmers lost a great deal of land to the actual parkway itself. Long Island farmer James Roth had fourteen acres of fertile land taken from him. Roth pleaded with Moses to move the route just a tenth of a mile so he could keep his fertile land. Roth was willing to give up the barren land he owned that was less fertile. Robert Moses told Roth there was nothing he could do to help him, and that Moses engineers had already determined the Northern State Parkway could not be moved an inch.[29] The building of the Northern State Parkway has a large effect on the farming lands of Long Island.

The Northern State Parkway re-routing episodes provided an interesting glimpse into the impact that the building of the Northern State Parkway had on Long Island’s social and environmental world. The impact of class distinction is quite clear in the development of Long Island. Those with wealth and power played a strong role in the actual shaping of the environment, quite literally. Furthermore, it was land that was not used for the good of the general public, but rather land occupied by selfish greed and personal use. Where is justice found when a rich land owner gives ten thousand dollars to the state to keep his private golf course, while struggling farmers are kicked off their land?[30] The farmers needed their land to survive. The Island lost farm land which became part of an ongoing story of a changing Long Island environmental landscape. The demise of the Long Island farm had begun.

The detours Robert Moses’ utilized in the construction of the Northern State Parkway had far reaching consequences to the Long Island commuter up until the present day. The distance of the rerouting was incomprehensible. Since the rerouting, any Long Island commuter wishing to avoid the dangerous onslaught of large industrial trucks on the Long Island Expressway will forever be bound to drive an extra twenty two miles a day if they choose to use the Northern State Parkway for their daily commute between the city and the island.[31]

Moses’ construction of the crossing brides on the Northern State Parkway was further evidence of Moses’ attitude towards class distinction. According to Robert Caro, Robert Moses instructed his building engineer Sidney M Shapiro to build the overpasses so low over the Northern State Parkway that buses would not be able to pass under them.[32] Caro argued that Moses did this to discourage bus trips from the city to his new parks. According to Caro, Moses felt that if the buses were forced to use local roads, the trips would be too long and difficult to make.[33] Caro’s point is that Moses did not want the poor lower class urban population enjoying the Long Island Beaches.

Robert Moses stopped the Long Island Railroad from building a line to Jones Beach. According to Caro, it was Moses’ intention to limit access to his state parks to the poor and middle class city people by denying the use of mass transportation[34] Another critic of Moses, Lewis Mumford, argued that by forgoing the use of public transportation, Moses was putting those who could not own a car at an extreme disadvantage to using Long Island’s public parks.[35] By preventing the use of public transportation by both railroad and highway onto the landscape of Long Island, Moses was shaping a generation of social class distinction and bias that would last for years.

Columbia Professor Kenneth Jackson countered Caro’s allegations of Moses’ racism by arguing that the overpasses on the Long Island parkways were built low because of cost considerations only.[36] Jackson stated that raising the bridges height by only two feet would have doubled their cost.[37] Jackson made an interesting point, but his argument is weak in comparison to Caro’s evidence. In Robert Caro’s Newsday interview with Ridgley Ochs, Caro told Ochs that he spoke directly with Moses’ parkway engineer Sidney Shapiro. Caro presented the fact that Shapiro was told directly by Moses to build the bridges low to prevent public transportation from using the parkways.[38]

Northern State Parkway

Photo: By Doug Kerr (Flickr: Northern State Parkway – New York) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Historian George Stevens argued that Caro was not putting Moses within the perspective of the times. Stevens wrote that in the early twentieth century, “It was a time in which New York City blacks were unwelcome and unseen outside of their residential neighborhoods.”[39]  Stevens argued that it was during the course of Moses lifetime when the landscape of the United States was immersed in legal segregation and intense racism.[40] Stevens’ writing seemed to imply that Moses was indeed building his parkways within the scope of racism. Nonetheless, trying to exonerate a man of his racist policies because he is a product of his times does not make the man any less guilty of being a racist.

Beyond Moses’ social reasons for the development of the Northern State Parkway, lay an environmental cause intertwined within Moses’ views of Long Island’s future. Moses built the Northern State Parkway to become a road with limited access to prevent random development along the roadway.[41] Moses insisted on building a right of way parkway with unprecedented width.[42] Moses’ ideas were to build a ribbon park in which automobile drivers would sense they were driving through a park, on their way to a park.[43]

Moses’ limited access development plans would have an even greater impact on the environment as they were employed in his building of Long Island’s Ocean Parkway. Moses had intended to build Ocean Parkway to extend along the entire length of Jones Beach and then continue along through Fire Island all the way through to Westhampton Beach.[44] Moses’ unintended resignation as Long Island State Park Commissioner under Governor Nelson Rockefeller stopped any chance of the parkway being extended through to Westhampton Beach. Moses’ resignation caused the development of a very different environment at Jones beach as opposed to the areas of Fire Island and Westhampton Beach.

Moses’ limited access Ocean Parkway has provided protection for the beaches, marshes and dunes at Jones Beach.[45] The limited access parkway has prevented the area from being developed thus enabling the parkway to provide protection to the natural environment. The same could not be said for the beaches of Fire Island and Westhampton Beach. The lack of a limited access highway has spurned on development of ocean front houses on both beaches. Condominiums, bars, and tennis clubs, all line the beaches along Dune Road. Without the protection of a road like Ocean Parkway, the beaches of Westhampton have been virtually destroyed by erosion and storms.[46] The use of all terrain vehicles have also contributed to an accelerated erosion pattern along the shorelines of Fire Island.[47] If Robert Moses had been able to continue his limited access parkway all the way through to Westhampton Beach ,the environmental landscape of Fire Island and Westhampton Beach would have been preserved in the same way Ocean Parkway has protected the landscape of Jones Beach.

Innovation in the use of building materials was another key element in Robert Moses’ development of his Long Island parkways. “One of the most distinctive visual features of Long Island’s parkways is the extensive uses of ashlar granite, used to construct overpasses, gas stations and ancillary structures.”[48] Many of the parkway overpasses were landscaped with Dogwood, Azalea, and English Ivy. The influence of Moses’s Oxford experience and the English countryside was evident in the design of the gas stations, police and maintenance buildings that were located along the parkways.[49] The majestic trees of the Long Island environment were echoed in the design of the wooden lamp posts that aligned the parkways. The lights hanging from the lampposts were beautiful iron lamps reminiscent of hanging lanterns.[50]  Wood obtained from the Hurricane of 1938 was utilized in the construction of the fences and rails lined along the Long Island parkways.[51]

Robert Moses employed landscape architect Clarence Combs to supervise the planting of trees and shrubs along the parkways. Trees and shrubs that were indigenous to Long Island played an important role in the magnificent landscaping of Moses’ parkways.[52] Combs incorporated nineteenth century Loop Trees from Huntington into the parkway design.[53] Combs also integrated into the parkway the stately pines from the mile long former August Belmont driveway in Babylon.[54] In the book Highways and our Environment, landscape engineer Harold Neal writes about the importance of using indigenous materials. “The selection of native plant material instead of importations of exotic material promotes more harmonious and naturalistic roadside conditions.”[55] Interestingly, Neal was the landscape engineer for the Virginia Highway department in 1930. His opinion provides evidence that Moses was not the only man in the United States at the time with the natural landscaped parkway idea.

Robert Moses Causeway

Photo: Cole Kachejian 2017

Robert Moses’ parkways eventually did far more than just bring people to his parks. Moses’parkways were the catalyst for a whole generation of city people making the move to suburban life. Moses’ fight for a land of industry excluding zoning laws set forth a landscape of single family homes built in areas far beyond walking distance of most local stores or businesses.[56] In the 1950s, Moses initiated the Long Island Expressway project. It was Moses’ views on mass transit and suburban life that would eventually set in stone the life of the Long Islander to forever be tied to their automobile.

In Robert Caro’s book, The Power Broker, Caro argued that Moses’ prevention of a mass transit line that could have been built in the center of the Long Island Expressway was Moses’ ultimate power play that sealed the fate of Long Island’s traffic nightmare. According to Caro, a mass transit line built within the Long Island Expressway would have led to urban development along the central corridor of Long Island.[57]  Urban development would have freed thousands of Long Islanders from the confines of their automobiles. Apartment houses could have been built within walking distance of the mass transit line. Within walking distances would be places of employment, stores, doctors, dentists, schools and so forth.[58]  The urban corridor would have greatly decreased the amount of automobiles on the Long Island roadways.

The development of an urban living experience along the central corridor of Long Island would have actually created more park land and county like living on the south and north shores of the island. The rest of Long Island would become less dense because the demand for living space would have dropped. Less demand for land would have lowered the value of the land thus making it easier to preserve more park land and the beauty of Long Island’s natural landscape.[59]

Throughout Robert Moses’ building career, Moses had always come up with his own unchallenged statistics in cost runs on his building projects. A company called Day & Zimmerman began a study on the cost of adding mass transit to the Long Island Expressway project.[60] Moses was furious, and argued that building mass transit on the Long Island Expressway would never work. Day & Zimmerman expressed the idea that if the cost to adding mass transit to the Long Island Expressway was too high, at least a survey should be done to look at the cost of developing the Long Island Expressway. The study would survey a way in which the structural foundation of the expressway could be built, so that in the future, a mass transit line could be added to the roadway at a conservative cost.[61]

Instead of waiting for New York State to begin allocating the funding for the Long Island Expressway project, Moses used his own $20,000,000 in Triborough funds he had gotten to get the Long Island Expressway started.[62] Moses understood that once the project was started, the results of Day & Zimmerman’s study would no longer matter because of actual construction work that had already begun on the Long Island Expressway. Moses had been able to thwart the threat of an actual study that eventually showed the cost of adding the possibility of mass transit to the Long Island Expressway. That survey showed that the cost would have added only four percent to the total construction cost. Even in the face of a logical study that showed the cost benefits of adding mass transit, Moses believed he knew what was best for Long Island.

By 1972, the Long Island Expressway was just about completed. The New York Times reported that the roadway was handling one hundred and fifty thousand cars per day.[63]  The New York State Department of Transportation declared that the Long Island Expressway was the most heavily traveled six lane highway in the world.[64]  Amusingly, it was only 1972 and the Department of Transportation was declaring the Long Island Expressway was already operating at its fullest capacity.[65]

Robert Caro was late to his first interview with Robert Moses. When Robert Moses asked why Caro had been late, Caro told Moses that he had been stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Moses responded to Caro by saying, “Traffic jam on the LIE at midday? Nonsense!”[66] It was Moses’ response to Caro that provided further evidence that Moses always thought he was smarter than the common man and really had no understanding at what he had done to the Long Island driving experience. Ironically, Robert Moses had never even driven a car, and was completely ignorant of the Long Island driving experience.

The growth of the Long Island Expressway not only forced Long Islanders to sit in traffic for hours at a time, it also forced Long Islanders to breathe in more polluted air caused by the increased and stalled traffic.

Photochemical smog is primarily a product of emission from gasoline burning engines. Smog, to the satisfaction of the scientific community is the result of a chemical reaction between hydrocarbons (unburned gasoline) and other organic gases, oxides of nitrogen, and sunlight.[67]

The increase in pollution due to the Long Expressway’s overabundance of automobile traffic served as another strong argument for the building of a mass transit system. The mass transit system would have lessened the abundance of cars on the Long Island roadways therefore decreasing the amount of pollution emitted into the environment. In the 1970s, studies showed that lung diseases, emphysema and chest cancer had been increasing dramatically since the 1950s during the period of rapid roadway development.[68]

Automobile pollution not only has an effect on the human condition, but also on plants and vegetation. Pollution cuts down on sunlight that growing plants need.[69] Many plants suffer heavy leaf damage and stunted growth due to the onslaught of increased automobile traffic.[70] It is easy to see that the building of roadways on Long Island and the increased use of the automobile had a devastating effect on Long Island’s vegetation and plant life.

Nassau County Park Department Officials argued against plans for additional lanes in an expansion of the Long Island Expressway in the 1990s. The Park Department argued that the expansion would have a dramatic effect on the environment. Mark Matsi who was head of the National Resources department, argued that clearing park land for additional roadways would increase air pollution which would threaten the ecological balance of some of Nassau County’s wetlands.[71] Matsi argued, “By increasing road size, you are creating potential for pollution and degrading water quality. By cutting down trees, you lessen the ability to absorb the additional pollution.”[72] The expansion plan of the Long Island Expressway was to add a fourth lane from Exit 30 to Exit 64 in both directions.[73] The HOV expansion was completed in 2005. Any Long Islander still sitting in traffic in 2010 on the Long Island Expressway would ask the question “What was the point?”

The completion of the Long Island Expressway in 1972 was the last link to a legacy of a man that no other public works developer in the county could compare to. On Long Island, Moses built the Northern, Southern, Meadowbrook, Wantagh, Sagtikos, Sunken Meadow, and Ocean Parkways.[74] Moses’ development of parks and beaches on Long Island was also dramatic. The Sunken Meadow, Hither Hills, Montauk, Orient Point, Fire Island, Captree, Bethpage, Wildwood, Belmont Lake, Hempstead Lake, Valley Stream parks and beaches were all built by Moses.[75]

Standing in the shadows of Long Island are the great bridges and roadways in the greater metropolitan area that Moses also built. The Verrazano, Throgs Neck, Henry Hudson, Cross Bay and Bronx-Whitstone Bridges were all built by Robert Moses.[76]Incredibly, Moses also built The Major Deagan, Van Wyck, Sheridan, Bruckner, Prospect, Whitestone, Clearview, Throgs Neck, Cross Bronx, Staten Island and Gowanus expressways.[77] In Manhattan, Moses also built the Harlem River Drive and the West Side Highway.[78] Besides roadways, parks and bridges, Moses also built Shea Stadium, Lincoln Center, the New York Coliseum and many other housing projects including Co-op City in the Bronx. Moses was also responsible for the building of over 600 playgrounds in the boroughs of New York City.[79]

The preceding list of Robert Moses’ accomplishments were included because any objective analysis of Robert Moses’ impact on the Long Islander should include the impact Robert Moses had on the development of the New York Metropolitan area. The development of New York City is tied to the vast scope of the urban population that moved to the suburbs of Long Island from the 1950s to the present day. It was an urban population trying to escape the noise of the city bus, the heat of the city street, and the quick hustle of the inner-borough neighbor hoods. It was an escape that Moses had not planned on.

For thirty years from 1974 to 2004, my Father who has emphysema, left his Nesconset home and headed to work in Long Island City at 6:00 am in the morning and returned home around 8:00 pm every day. Out of those fourteen hours, between four and five of them were spent driving on the Long Island Expressway. His story is an example of the life style that the majority of Long Island commuters experience. As a piano teacher that teaches in the homes of the Long Island community, I witness parents arriving home from their city jobs between 8:00 and 9:00 pm every night. The Long Island Railroad has never been much of a better alternative for Long Islanders commuting every day back and forth from the island to the city. The Long Island Railroad is not mass transit simply because of the railroad’s limited time schedule, limited access to most of Long Island, and above all, the huge cost of ridership.

Robert Moses’ development of Long Island through his road system, gave birth to a landscape of single family homes nestled in an environment unable to sustain a population that both worked and lived on the island. Moses’ did not forecast Long Island’s eventual population explosion. In his own words he seemed to believe that Long Island’s population would remain small, “Only the city can afford the arts in their broadest and most developed sense, because it takes population to keep art centers alive and flourishing.” [80]Robert Moses’ comment illuminates his concepts of suburban life and further demonstrates why he built his roadways to limit public transportation on and along his roadways. His commitment to housing projects within the city limits, further demonstrates his intended separation of the classes between Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City.

The suburban dream of owning a home has come true for millions of Long Islanders. Consequently, the dream has been ruined for many by the nightmarish commute to the city that many Long Islanders make every day. That commute has been forced onto Long Islanders because of Moses’ reluctance to build a mass transit system on Long Island. The mass transit system would have developed an urban environment that would have created enough jobs on Long Island that would have freed many Long Islanders from the never ending hours spent in their automobiles. Most Long Islanders would argue the point that no matter what time of day, the Long Island commuter will always fight traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

Robert Moses’ dream of an Island of beauty and prosperity for only a certain class of people was broken because of his inability to understand how many people would want to share that dream. Moses’ seemed to believe that the dream was only meant for the wealthy. Moses’ biggest mistake was that he failed to realize that the poor, middle class, and people of all races can also dream, no matter how many bridges may stand in their way.

Written by Brian Kachejian

 

Works Cited

Andelman David A. “L.I. Expressway Nears End of 32-Year Construction.”
New York Times Jun 24, 1972. p.33.

Black, John A.  Robert Caro’s Moses: Long Island’s First Environmentalist. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.

Black John A, “From Fort Tilden to Shinnecock Inlet: The Consequences of Roads and Parkways,” Long Island Forum, March 1987.

Burns, Rick. New York- A Documatery Film: Episode Four: The Power and the People (1898-1918) PBS Broadcasting. 1999.

“Captree Parkway to Supply in ’47 Long Island Roads’ ‘Missing Link’”

New York Times. Apr 15, 1946. p.1.

Caro, Robert A. Power Broker. New York: Vintage Books, 1975.

“Fund for Parkway to speed last link.” New York Times. Mar 25, 1950. p.16

Jackson, Kenneth.  Robert Moses and the Planned Environment: A Re-Evaluation. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.

Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press,1985.

Krieg, Joann P. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing,1989

Lewis, Eugene. Public Entrepreneurship. London: Indiana University Press,1980

Lii, Jane H. “Neighborhood Report Douglaston; More L.I.E., Fewer Trees?” New York Times. Dec 10th. 1995. p.19.

Mallamo Lance J.  Building the Roads to Greatness. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.

Moses, Robert. Working for the People. New York: Harper and Brothers,1956.

Neagle, H.J.  Highway as Parkway in John Robinson, Highways and our Environment. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing ,1972.

“New Parkway Link Opened in Nassau.” New York Times Dec 18, 1938, p. 51.

Ochs Ridgely. “Reassessing Robert Moses: The Legacy of the Power Broker.” The Newsday Magazine, Newsday. Long Island, N.Y. December 4th 1988.

“Progress made on Long Island’s Parks and Parkways: A Traffic Solution. Secretary of State Robert Moses Discusses Present and Future Plans.” New York Times. April 29, 1928. P.RE1.

Rodgers,Cleveland. Robert Moses:Builder for Democracy. New York: Henry Holt and Company,1952.

Robinson, John. Highways and our Environment. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing ,1972.

Stevens, George.  Robert Caro’s Moses: A Historian’s Critique in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.

Endnotes:

[1] Ridgely Ochs. “Reassessing Robert Moses: The Legacy of the Power Broker.” The Newsday Magazine Newsday. Long Island, N.Y. December 4th 1988., Newsday. Long Island, N.Y. December 4th 1988.p.2.

[2] Robert A Caro. Power Broker. New York: Vintage Books, 1975. p, 29.

[3] Ibid., 35.

[4] Ibid., 31-33.

[5] Ibid.,47.

[6] Ibid.,48.

[7] Caro. Power Broker, 49.

[8] Robert Moses. Working for the People. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956. P,7.

[9] Rick Burns. New York- A Documentary Film: Episode Four: The Power and the People (1898-1918) PBS Broadcasting. 1999.

[10] Caro, Power Broker, 55.

[11] Kenneth T Jackson. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford   University Press, 1985.p,88.

[12] Ibid.,98.

[13] Jackson, Crabgrass, 97.

[14] Ibid., 98.

[15] Cleveland Rodgers. Robert Moses: Builder for Democracy. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1952.p,40.

[16] Rodgers, Democracy,41.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., 42.

[20] Rodgers, Democracy,43.

[21] Ibid.,44.

[22] “Progress made on Long Island’s Parks and Parkways: A Traffic Solution. Secretary of State Robert Moses Discusses Present and Future Plans.” New York Times. April 29, 1928. P.RE1.

[23] Rogers. Democracy,51.

[24] Rogers. Democracy,51.

[25] Caro. Power Broker, 277.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Caro. Power Broker, 279.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., 301.

[31] Caro, Power Broker,310.

[32] Ibid., 318.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Eugene Lewis. Public Entrepreneurship. London: Indiana University Press, 1980.

[36]  Kenneth Jackson , Robert Moses and the Planned Environment: A Re-Evaluation. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989. p,26.

[37] Jackson, Planned Environment, 26.

[38] Ochs, 2.

[39] George Stevens.  Robert Caro’s Moses: A Historian’s Critique in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.p,42.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Black, John A.  Robert Caro’s Moses: Long Island’s First Environmentalist. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.p,141.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] John A Black, “From Fort Tilden to Shinnecock Inlet: The Consequences of Roads and Parkways,” Long Island Forum, March 1987.p,47.

[45] Black, “From Fort Tilden to Shinnecock Inlet,48.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] J Lance Mallamo.  Building the Roads to Greatness. in Joann P Krieg. Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius. New York: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989.p,163.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Mallamo. Building the Roads to Greatness,164.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.,165

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] H.J. Neale.  Highway as Parkway in John Robinson, Highways and our Environment. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing ,1972.

[56] Caro, Power Broker,940.

[57] Ibid., 941.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Caro, Power Broker, 946.

[61] Ibid., 948.

[62] Ibid.

[63] David A Andelman. “L.I. Expressway Nears End of 32-Year Construction.”
New York Times, Jun 24, 1972. p.33.

[64] Andelman. “L.I. Expressway Nears End of 32-Year Construction,p.33.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ochs, Newsday, 34.

[67] John Robinson. Highways and our Environment. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing ,1972. p,150.

[68] Robinson, Highways, 154.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71]Jane H Lii. “NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: DOUGLASTON; More L.I.E., Fewer Trees?” New York Times. Dec 10th. 1995. p,19

[72] Ibid.

[73] Lii, Fewer Trees, 19.

[74] Caro, Power Broker,8.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.,6.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.,7.

[80] Robert Moses, Working, 87.

 

Photo Credits:

Photo: By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: The Beginning) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: By C.M. Stieglitz, World Telegram staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: By Robert_Moses_with_Battery_Bridge_model.jpg: C.M. Stieglitz, World Telegram staff photographer derivative work: Daniel Case [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Cole Kachejian – Robert Moses Causeway Entrance Sign 2017

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