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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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“They Shall Not Pass”

“They Shall Not Pass”

Opposition to Public Leisure and State Park Planning

Chapter:
(p.158) 5 “They Shall Not Pass”
Source:
New York Recentered
Author(s):

Kara Murphy Schlichting

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226613161.003.0006

This chapter examines protests against state parks and external intervention in elite suburban communities of greater New York. In the 1920s and 1930s, estate owners in elite Greens Farms, Connecticut, and on the North Shore of Long Island rejected inclusion in or responsibility to a regional public. While often dismissed as parochial by planners and planning historians alike, private landowners mounted important challenges to Progressive-era park planning. These cases warrant comparison due to their similar physical landscapes and the ideology residents mobilized to challenge external interventions: defensive localism, property rights rhetoric, and a belief that access to scenic environments was a private, not a public right. For two decades, Greens Farms residents thwarted state efforts to develop a public beach. On Long Island, Robert Moses and Governor Al Smith fought, but failed to overcome, North Shore elites’ battle against state parks and parkways. Elite estate owners created home-rule structures, including single estates incorporated as villages of fifty people (many if not most of them servants) to translate their privatism into exclusionary laws that barred outsiders. Local government was an essential player in the rapidly-evolving and uneasy relationship between the urban center and its growing suburban periphery.

Keywords:   localism, home rule, suburban, Long Island, Connecticut, state parks, Robert Moses, Al Smith

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