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New York RecenteredBuilding the Metropolis from the Shore$
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Kara Murphy Schlichting

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226613024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226613161.001.0001

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Working-Class Leisure on the Upper East River and Sound

Working-Class Leisure on the Upper East River and Sound

(p.80) 3 Working-Class Leisure on the Upper East River and Sound
New York Recentered

Kara Murphy Schlichting

University of Chicago Press

In the early twentieth century, substantial stretches of the city’s coastal environs in Westchester, the East Bronx, and Queens remained undeveloped natural areas. The shore took on new value as a place of residency and recreation and as an environment that offered refuge from the industry and pollution closer to Manhattan. This chapter examines the coastal leisure spaces of northern Queens, the islands and peninsulas of the upper East River and Long Island Sound. A vibrant network of beachfront amusement parks and tent and bungalow colonies attracted a blue-collar clientele to the shore. This leisure corridor gave rise to property regimes and vernacular building that proved as important as upper-class suburbanization. Yet its socioeconomic diversity created conflicts among different groups about “appropriate” waterfront use. In Westchester County, bungalow and amusement proprietors battled with wealthy landowners over Rye Beach; in the East Bronx, political groups constricted public access to the shore and whites barred African Americans, drawing on environmental rhetoric to serve segregationist goals. Water pollution due to sewage and coastal landfills caused ecological degradation and further constrained recreation in the leisure corridor.

Keywords:   water pollution, amusement parks, Long Island Sound, William Steinway, bungalow, Westchester County, East Bronx, East River

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