Sometimes historical errors should be erased, with corrections written in. Such is the case with the name of one of the most scenic stretches of road in Western New York. Rather than evoking images of nature that could help attract visitors, the road along the Niagara River sports the name of Robert Moses, the once-renowned, now often-reviled “master builder.” He is responsible for some of the most wretched urban removal of the last century, costing countless people their homes in favor of miles of expressways.
Moses’ name does not belong on the parkway that delivers such beautiful vistas of the Niagara River from the Grand Island Bridge to Youngstown. A movement is underway to give it a more proper name: Niagara Scenic Parkway.
Picture those new road signs indicating that visitors have, indeed, come to the right place, versus Robert Moses Parkway. The historical value in the current name is in knowing one has arrived at yet another roundly criticized project inspired by the indefatigable and long-surviving city planner.
We agree with the Niagara County Legislature, which on March 1 called for the renaming: “The name Robert Moses means little to tourists, and is no longer descriptive of today’s purpose of informing visitors this roadway will take you to the prime viewing areas.”
And there is gathering support in Albany for the change. The State Senate passed a bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, to rename the parkway. Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, D-Lewiston, said he will sponsor a bill in the Assembly to change the parkway’s name. That view is shared by the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. Visit Buffalo Niagara President Patrick Kaler is on board, as are many others.
It’s not just the name of the road that needs changing. While the Moses enabled cars to move faster, it cut the city off from its waterfront, a disastrous decision that was in keeping with the times.
Efforts are well underway to repair that damage. A stretch of the parkway above the falls is being converted into a park road into Niagara Falls State Park. There are proposals to remove part of the roadway along the gorge below the falls in favor of open green space, trails and scenic overlooks.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster have urged the Federal Highway Administration to expedite work on removing the portion of the parkway bordering the gorge between downtown Niagara Falls and Findlay Drive near the Lewiston-Niagara Falls border.
Restoring the beauty of the route along the river is of paramount importance. But let’s change the name now.