moving to their permanent headquarters, the United Nations met in the New York Pavilion
on the grounds of what is now Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was there the problematic world body
witnessed one of its finest moments passing the resolution that led to the
creation of the State of Israel. Perhaps
it is time to move them back to Queens. The
history and general greenness of iconic parks in all five boroughs are
celebrated in WNET’s Treasures of New York: City Parks (promo
which premieres this Wednesday on New York area public television.
New Yorkers take understandable pride in Central Park, despite the fact it was
modeled on the deliberately imposing parks of Imperialist Europe. Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux’s
masterwork of landscaping and design would indeed announce New York as a
cultural and commercial powerhouse on the world stage, but they would have to
wrestle with politicians during each stage of construction.
though it was literally the centerpiece of Manhattan, Central Park would
periodically fall into states of appalling disrepair. The initial savior was, not surprisingly, Fiorello
La Guardia and his controversial Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses. However, during the Carter malaise, the
private, nonprofit Central Park Conservancy stepped in to do the maintenance
and restoration work beyond the City government’s competencies.
politics would play a role at other parks, particularly at the Bronx’s Pelham
Bay Park, where Democrat Jimmy Walker allocated beachfront access to his Tammany
Hall cronies. This was a practice La Guardia
halted post-haste and Moses would forever prevent by radically reshaping the
Prospect Park also gets its due, but unfortunately this includes plenty of air time
for Brooklyn Beep Marty “Party” Markowitz, in full blow-hard mode. If grudgingly, Moses still enjoys good PR in
the Bronx for his work on the Pelham Bay Park and also in Queens for his vision
for Flushing Meadow Corona. Not so much
in Staten Island though, where activists banded together to save the Greenbelt
from his proposed Richmond Parkway.
However, they will admit the resulting traffic is kind of a drag. Lest a review go by without a Tibet reference,
it is also worth noting the Jacques Marais Museum of Tibetan Art is peacefully
nestled within the preserved Greenbelt.
As was the case for previous installments of Treasures of New York, City Parks is essentially a slickly
produced infomercial for New York.
However, the park edition has considerably more civic history than one
would expect, making it of potential interest to general viewers beyond the obvious
outdoors-oriented target audience.
Pleasantly watchable, it premieres tomorrow night (9/5) on Long Island’s
WLIW and airs this coming Sunday (9/9) on New York’s Thirteen.
Labels: Central Park, Fiorello La Guardia, Treasures of New York