The 79th Street Boat Basin
on the Hudson River in Riverside Park
, New York City. Photo:
, 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. 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
See a more detailed version of this story in Caro, pp.526-540.
- Caro, Robert A., The Power Broker - Robert Moses and the Fall of New
York, Vintage Books (1974).
Parks Dept press release of March 2, 1940, announcing the opening of the
79th Street Boat Basin.