Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Dedication of Heckscher State Park

A photo of Robert Moses standing on the front porch of the George C. Taylor residence in East Islip at the dedication of Heckscher State Park in 1929. Click HERE for more on the Taylor estate. Photo from Ray Spinzia.


The Down East Dilettante said...

Holy Cow. Once again an example of the difficulty of reading scale from a photograph without a point of reference. The house was more steroidal than I'd have guessed from yesterday's photographs.

Doug Floor Plan said...

I finally clicked on the ‘Ray Spinzia’ link from Zach’s posting yesterday … no wonder I appreciated his insight regarding alterations to this house. [Mental note: don’t disagree with Judy or Ray Spinzia.]

Since this house was discussed yesterday I’ll set up a lead-in for a joke for whoever is interested:
What do you suppose Robert Moses was saying in his speech just as that photo was taken? Ancient, since you might have been there we all know you have advantage.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Okay, here’s my entry: Robert Moses, “… & not only does carbon monoxide kill mosquitoes, fertilize plants, & invigorate the human condition – the oil from which it is a by-product is so plentiful & inexpensive that we need never look for an alternative energy source.”

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Heckscher in years.....but does this house still stand...or another old victorian ?

The Ancient said...

DFP --

He was saying nice things about Heckscher, whose money allowed Moses to subvert the will of the legislature, and preparing to introduce his old boss, Al Smith.

Smith, who was yet to make that sharp turn to the right that came with Roosevelt's election, was predictably demagogic about those who opposed the park. Heckscher, by contrast, was gracious, disclaimed credit, and had very kind words for both Moses and Smith.

The Ancient said...

All kidding aside, it's remarkable how much support Moses and his parks had from the old social elite -- Dilettante's "Aztecs."

lil' gay boy said...

"Suddenly, a shot rang out..."

Anonymous said...

The old social elite probably thought they were getting other Central Park type places with formal gardens and bronze fountains. I bet the didn't expect to have their estates bulldozed.

The Ancient said...

Anon 4:50 --

If you click on that link I provided, I think you get a contrary view.

But I make a mental distinction between Old New York and many of the people who built large houses on the North Shore.

lil' gay boy said...

"If you click on that link I provided,"

Nope ––– sorry ––– no longer a subscriber (it was a business account). I've reached my limit & cannot read the article; a precis, perhaps?

Ray Spinzia said...

At the risk of over-staying my welcome, I have two Moses stories that might be of interest.

I have always been amused that Moses' greatest support may have come in 1926 from the naive, 26-year-old, freshman member of the New York State legislature Frederick Trubee Davison, the son of North Shore millionaire and J. P. Morgan partner Henry Pomeroy Davison, Sr. The bill introduced by Davison put an incredible amount of power into the hands of Moses. In the opinion of one lawyer, sections 8, 9, and 18 of the bill which became law gave the Long Island Park Commission the power to take over ALL of Suffolk County (and, presumably, Nassau County) as long as the governor signed the appropriation form. Davison later went on to become the CIA's Director of Personnel from 1951-1952.

De Forest could afford to be magnanimous. The property which he donated was many miles away from his estate in Cold Spring Harbor. It wasn't until 1955, when Moses decided to build the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway and bridge to CT, that CSH residents became concerned. The battle lasted some 20 years. He was finally stopped dead in his tracks by J. P. Morgan's daughter Jane Morgan Nichols whose estate Uplands was in CSH. She hired an environmentalist to find an "endangered whatever" thereby stopping the expressway's extension to the Sound and ending Moses' plan to bridge the Sound.

There are a lot of great stories about Mrs. Nichols; she was a gracious, caring lady.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Mrs.Nichols couldn't save the rest of the Island from Moses.

The Ancient...sorry, could not get on to read the article....that's why I assumed. Still, I don't think they knew what they were getting into siding with Moses...if you couldn't tell...I can't stand the man, and feel he did more harm than good.

Doug Floor Plan said...

Thank you Ancient -- somehow I knew you had an ace up your sleeve; not to mention a memory like a ... well, something with a really good memory (probably electronic).

Ray, I like your Frederick Trubee Davison story -- you're very generous to use the word 'naive' because it's not often something in politics is given for nothing (my opinion).

The Ancient said...

lgb --

You get this only because I want to clarify that those potential DJ activities will be in this world, not the next.

Best, etc.


From some newspaper, 9/24/29.


Writes to Moses Commending the Way in Which Commission Has Done Its Work.

Strong commendation of the parks and parkways developed by the Long Island State Park Commission under the chairmanship of Robert Moses, former Secretary of State, is voiced in a letter, made public yesterday, from Robert W. De Forest, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sage Foundation and other institutions of art and philanthropy.

Mr. De Forest, a large individual land owner in the northern part of Long Island, once was apprehensive about the developments, but later dedicated valuable rights of way through his properties. In his letter to Mr. Moses, he wrote:

"I have been using part of my leisure this Summer in repeatedly visiting your Long Island parks. I refer particularly to Hempstead, Sunken Meadows and Heckscher. I have noticed with satisfaction the large numbers of people who are enjoying them, their orderliness and apparent willingness to conform to park rules in disposing of their litter and respecting trees and shrubs. I have also noticed with satisfaction the general tastefulness in which the parks have been carried out, notably as respects such details as fences, bridges, lighting fixtures, as well as new planting.

"I think the not unnatural apprehension which I shared with some of my neighbors as to the effect of your parks and parkways on their property interests would be largely allayed by their seeing just what you have done. I think, moreover, that the increasing disfigurement of some of our principal highways, notably the Jericho Turnpike, by billboards, 'hot dog' stands, and unsightly service stations will make that part of the public which values the natural features of Long Island increasingly sympathetic to a wide parkway from which these objectionable features will be excluded.

"I shall be glad to know how soon you can complete that portion of the Northern Parkway which passes through my properties, for which I have given you right of way, for I would be glad to adjust my own intended planting to yours."

The Ancient said...

Ray Spinzia --

De Forest could afford to be magnanimous. The property which he donated was many miles away from his estate in Cold Spring Harbor.

You've lost me here. De Forest was happily devaluing the development potential of real estate he had bought in the 19th century for the express purpose of development.

"Afford to be magnanimous"? He gives away millions of dollars which does nothing to preserve the area around Wawapeck and it's "magnanimous"?

I don't think so.

Turner Pack Rats said...

maybe mr brodsky is a descendant of moses' spirit as Mr. M is standing on the porch of a house he ends up demolishing.

security word def - "shona" - with another abbreviated word, a Southern expression meaning "yes"

Zach L. said...

From Ray & Judy Spinzia:

My apologies Ancient, magnanimous should have been in quotes. What I was trying to imply was that de Forest “threw Moses a bone.”

The original plan for Northern State Parkway was for it to swing further north, incorporate sections of Jericho Turnpike, and cut through Otto Kahn’s Cold Spring Harbor estate. (See Caro, The Power Broker, pp. 278, 300-304; for a map of the proposed and actual routes of Northern State Parkway as it impacted the estates, see volume I, p. xv, of our North Shore book). The point I was gently trying to make was that by donating a strip of undeveloped land further to the South, which at that time was in the middle of nowhere, de Forest insured that the parkway remained a considerable distance from his extremely valuable estate and those of other family members in the area. It is a perfectly sound business practice – protect your most valuable assets. The property to which you referring wasn’t developed until the mid-1950s to early-1960s. That is a long time to wait for a return on an investment.

Moses was a real threat to the estates. He had already tangled with Rosalie Gardiner Jones of Jones Manor in present-day Laurel Hollow and won. (See Judy’s article on Rosalie Gardiner Jones on our website.) Consider his statement in Newsday in which he referred to the North Shore resident as a “Booboisee.” His unique definition of the word was “the person who demands complete isolation twenty miles from the city can’t enjoy it very much longer, not because it is wrong to be nostalgic, but because it is futile.” (Newsday January 15, 1966, and Joann P. Krieg, ed. Robert Moses: Single Minded Genius. Interlacken, NY: Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1989, p. 81. [The book is a compilation of papers presented at the Long Island Studies Conference at Hofstra University on Moses in 1988.]

Chadwell said...

"resistance 'is futile" - My God, Moses was the first Borg.