Robert Moses’ creation of Orchard Beach was one met with concerned suspicions by those writing Opinion articles in the 1930s. As the Bronx’s only public beach, it is interesting to look at Moses’ motives behind the creation of this beach, and how he used his power as Parks Commissioner to oust hundreds of bungalow dwellers from the area.
In 1934, we can see articles detailing Moses’ decision to close the beach during the summer due to minor pollution issues. Later, Moses is granted a $250,000 sewer that is to be placed at the beach, but it is interesting to note that this decision to close the beach during this time also corresponds with his fight against six-hundred bungalow owners, most of whom believed they had a legal right to maintain their ground, as it is their property.
In a case that is taken all the way to the Supreme Court, an article reports that “Supreme Court Justice Levy granted yesterday a temporary injunction restraining Park Commissioner Robert Moses from ousting the 600 owners of Summer bungalows at Orchard Beach, the Bronx.” However, in a somewhat snarky fashion, Moses reports back that one-third of the bungalows had already been cleared, with no plans of stopping for Levy.
If we look around four years in the future, however, we see that Moses has been praised for his work in beautifying the beach and making it completely public, indicating that the bungalows were unsightly and in need of governmental action.
Looking at how Moses’ work is viewed in more recent articles is rather interesting. A 1991 article names Orchard Beach as being a “slice of paradise,” proving that history will often highlight bright details while not always indicting rights violations. Unfortunately, in this case, those rights seemingly violated the Constitution.
Despite all of this, however, it is important that the Bronx has a public beach in general, and is allowed the same luxuries as those in other boroughs.