Riverside Park New Deal Sites - Photo #24 - The 79th Street Boat Basin

   
24

The 79th Street Boat Basin on the Hudson River in Riverside Park, New York City. Photo: Jim Henderson, Wikimedia Commons, 12 August 2008.

In a way, we owe the existence of the entire Riverside - Fort Washington Park complex to the 79th Street Boat Basin. In 1934, Robert Moses wanted to build a whole new park from 72nd Street all the way to the top of Manhattan but he needed to find the money. He already had funding for the Henry Hudson Parkway. Since the Parkway was to have an exit and entry at 79th Street, access ramps and an overpass or underpass were needed. He happened to remember that the Public Works Administration (PWA) had a fund set aside for such things filed under "Grade Crossing Eliminations", which would pay for the material. Then, once he had the material he could approach the Civil Works Administration (CWA) whose purpose was to put unemployed people to work, but only if a very high percentage (like 80 or 90) was used for wages and not materials. Since Moses already had money for the materials, the CWA gave him enough money for "relief labor" to build the entire park.[1] When the Works Progess Administration (WPA) took over from the PWA and CWA in 1935, they went ahead with an underpass that was also a traffic circle, a marina, a parking garage, and a rotunda that included a restaurant.

See a more detailed version of this story in Caro, pp.526-540.

References:

  1. Caro, Robert A., The Power Broker - Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Vintage Books (1974).