Robert Moses at Bethpage, April 1935

I am sorry about the lack of posts recently. Blogging will continue to be light through next week as the academic year enters its endgame. There are so many things to make happen before submitting grades, which we will probably do a week from today if all goes as planned. I spent a good chunk of today reading and grading papers. I have learned a great deal this year, about not just Robert Moses but local, state, and national history more widely. We intend to keep the energy going. It’s the people you work with who make it all worthwhile.

Way back on the first day of class we were telling students about Moses’s many accomplishments. The course focus is on New York City itself but you must lay the foundation talking about the master builder’s wider legacy. One of those things, I told the class, was Bethpage State Park near Farmingdale, where they played this week’s PGA Championship on the Black Course. Brooks Koepka held on to become the first back-to-back PGA winner since Tiger Woods in 2006-07. The Black Course is a pretty good test of golf; Woods won the US Open there in 2002. It and the four other links that comprise Bethpage were built under the leadership of Robert Moses in the 1930s within his jurisdiction as head of the Long Island State Park Commission. Needless to say, there was some serious sausage-making in turning it all into a reality. The detail-orientated Moses was involved in every aspect of turning the nearly 1,400 acre site into a golf location open to all. He also used New Deal money and men, putting about 1,800 laborers to work.

Moses envisioned Bethpage State Park as a Jones Beach for the middle-class golfing set. Remember, as its name indicates it is a public facility, not a private club. That they play the majors there is testimony to the vision and legacy of Robert Moses. In class tomorrow I’ll talk to the students briefly about it before getting on with the business of the day.

(image/Brooklyn Daily Eagle)