Between Ocean And Cityby Lawrence Kaplan, Carol P. Kaplan
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.
Eugenie L. Birch
Robert K. Whelan
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Meet the Author
Lawrence Kaplan, who has taught British and American history at the City College of New York, spent his formative years in Rockaway.
Carol P. Kaplan is a practicing social worker and an associate professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.
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In their work ¿Between Ocean and City¿ Lawrence and Carol Kaplan offer a worthy contribution to urban historical scholarship detailing how a place like the Rockaways--a remote, beachfront resort community within New York City proper, a place with many environmental and geographic resources-- declined into a waterfront slum. The question of how this diverse, seaside resort became transformed into a warehouse for the underclass is amply documented within this well written volume. Against the tableau of American suburbanization, The Kaplans do a masterful job explaining the importance of New York City master developer Robert Moses, local and national political forces, local community and real estate interests acting at cross pressures with one another, ultimately bringing the Rockaways down into a blighted wasteland. The book represents an excellent case study of urban planning gone awry, where many similar close-to-downtown metropolitan places get passed over for urban re-development, becoming slums, while distant suburbs gain ascendency, where fewer political and economic forces had a clash potential with one another. General readers should also find this clear and concise volume, with its attractive and telling photographs, a deeply rewarding experience.