Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jones Beach and Robert Moses

Jones Beach.
Click for photo credit.
Since I've been back from China, I've been dealing with the "to do" list from hell and I've tried to find some balance by going to the beach when I can get a few hours of free time.  We've been going to Jones Beach which is on the South Shore region of Long Island.

The park is super-easy to access by the various parkways that lead to it, has a ton of amenities, and lots and lots of open space for sunbathing.  In a synergistic effort of work and relaxation,   I've been listening to The Power Broker, a book about the life of Robert Moses by Robert A. Caro while enjoying the beach.

It seems fitting to listen to a book about Robert Moses at Jones Beach.  Much of the landscape of modern Long Island is due to Moses' 20th Century vision.   But where did this vision come from?

Moses spent much of his life in New York City where he worked for various agencies associated with improving New York's government.  He came to the attention of Governor Al Smith and worked on a number of issues in state government.  During this time, he came to spend time in Long Island (Babylon in particular) and developed a vision for an integrated park system connected by parkways across Long Island.

Jones Beach today.
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Jones Beach became the center for much of his early vision for building parks across Long Island.  Manhattan was crowded and residents had little access to open parkland.  Plus in the 1920's there was little infrastructure to bring people to Jones Beach or to any other place on Long Island.  Thus, he needed to build parkways to bring folks from the city to the beach.  The resultant interstate and interconnected parkways system is the result of Moses' vision.

Robert Moses has been criticized for many of the projects he designed or advocated.  However, there is no doubt that Jones Beach is a world class park.

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