Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York

Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York

Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York

Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York

Synopsis

Rockaway Beach was once a popular seaside resort in south Queens with a small permanent population. Shortly after World War II, large parts of this narrow peninsula between the ocean and the bay became some of New York City's worst slums. A historian who grew up in the community and his wife, a social worker, together present an illuminating account of this transformation, exploring issues of race, class, and social policy and offering a significant revision of the larger story of New York City's development. In particular, the authors qualify some of the negative assessments of Robert Moses, suggesting that the "Power Broker" attempted for many positive initiatives for Rockaway.

Based on extensive archival research and hundreds of hours of interviews with residents, urban specialists, and government officials past and present, Between Ocean and City is a clear-eyed and harrowing story of this largely African American community's struggles and resiliency in the face of grinding poverty, urban renewal schemes gone wrong, and a forced ghettoization by the sea.

Excerpt

In the course of researching and writing this book, we have incurred debts to many individuals and institutions. Knowledgeable people helped us by granting interviews, making suggestions, and challenging our assumptions. We feel fortunate in the relationships that were formed in the course of our investigations. in many ways, this book became a dialogue with all those who expanded our perspective. It is difficult to name everyone who played this role, but we would like to single out for appreciation Helen and William Rausnitz, Pat Brownell, Lovette Glasgow, Goldie Maple, Doris Moss, Sol Gorelick, Elaine Babian, Mary Ann Quaranta, Bertram Beck, Julius Edelstein, and Louis D. Winnick. Roger Starr called our attention to obscure references, assisted us in gaining access to files not readily available, and offered useful insights. We had good talks at the Wave office with its publisher, Leon S. Locke, and its current coeditor, Howard Schwach. Local historian Emil Lucev kindly shared documentary material with us. We understand that some people mentioned above will disagree with our book’s conclusions. Unfortunately, not all of those we thank lived to see this manuscript published.

Valuable information came from interviews cited in the notes. Only a minority of those we approached in the course of our research refused to cooperate. Certain individuals with whom we spoke at length did not wish to be named, and we have respected their requests. We omitted specific attributions in those cases in which conversations with informed people . . .

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