Friday, February 9, 2018

Notes from the Van Wyck.

I landed in JFK about 15 minutes ago. Through the digital good-graces of the Global Entry system, I scanned my passport, matched my fingerprints, had my photograph taken, and bellied up to a customs' agent and in short order I'm now in the backseat of a Nissan NV2000 moving about three miles per on the Van Wyck.

The Van Wyck was built by Robert Moses back during his Power Broker heyday. And it was obsolete the moment the concrete was dry.

The road can handle only so-many cars an hour, and from day one, the traffic outstripped the highway's capacity. In fact, rarer than Sasquatch or Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster would be the sighting of a person who's driven the Van Wyck without traffic. It's been said, if you must know, that the very words Van Wyck are old New York Dutch for traffic jam.

Moses had his way. From the backseat of his air-conditioned Packard limousine, he disdained mass-transit--refusing to accommodate rail-lines down the center of the roads he constructed. Something that could have been done for a nominal cost 70 years ago, would, with rail-construction in New York costing upwards of $2 billion per mile, bankrupt us today.

Moses did some good during his 50 years of building New York. Some beautiful bridges were conceived and built by him: the Throgg's Neck and the Bronx-Whitestone to name just two. But he was a virulent racist and built roads that were as evil in their intent as racism itself. And he ruined whole neighborhoods with his roads, most famously the East Tremont section of the Bronx which was eviscerated by the ugliest highway in all the world, the Cross Bronx ha ha Expressway.

Meanwhile I sit here, creeping, in the early winter morning New York sunshine. Happy to be back home.

But cursing Robert Moses at three mph.

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