Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 4, 2013

ON THE PARKWAY: Moses envisioned roadway as a scenic route

NYPA chairman envisioned parkway as a scenic route

Niagara Gazette — When it was dedicated 50 years ago, the Moses Parkway was described as a kind of gift to a community that had endured the disruption for construction of the $720 million Niagara Power Project. It turned out to be a gift that was seldom if ever appreciated.

As a sort of compensation for that upheaval — relocating homes, rebuilding roads and bridges, and generally intruding on the quality of life — Robert Moses, the “master builder” and then chairman of the New York Power Authority, spearheaded a massive public works program that included a scenic parkway that would parallel the Niagara River, from the North Grand Island Bridge to Lake Road (Route 18) near Youngstown.

The Moses Parkway was originally designed to link the Niagara Expressway (1-190) and the North Grand Island Bridges with Lake Road (Route 18) and the Lake Ontario Parkway to Rochester. That plan never became reality because, as it was explained at the time, the state simply ran out of funds for such an ambitious project.

Instead, the parkway named for Moses, was limited to 22 miles from the Grand Island spans to Lake Road in Porter. Even that stretch, along the upper Niagara River and through the state park to Lewiston and Youngstown, was severed in the late 1970s when local government and tourist industry leaders contended the contiguous roadway carried most tourist traffic in and out of the state park, bypassing the South End of Niagara Falls. To compound matters, the parkway section in Prospect Park included a westbound ramp that led directly to Canada-bound lanes on the Rainbow Bridge.

When the first section of the parkway — from those North Grand Island Bridges to the nation’s oldest state park — was completed in the early 1960s, it wiped out Riverway, the heavily-traveled street parallel to the park, and landmark buildings like the old Gorge Terminal, a theater, and the Moose Tower Hotel. Originally designated the Niagara Parkway, it was renamed for Moses on June 28. 1963.

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