Sunday Snapshots for Summer #5

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To those of you who love the ocean as much as I do! Seen here is Robert Moses State Park on Long Island, NY.

April Flamingo-grams

Not that we’re halfway through May or anything like that. Here are April adventures, mostly in and around Vermont, with some excursion to CT and NY. (Hover over each photo for the caption.)

March Flamingo-grams February Flamingo-grams January Flamingo-grams Thanksgiving Flamingo-gramsNovember Flamingo-gramsOctober Flamingo-grams

Love to Long Island

The memories of Tropical Storm Irene of August 2011 are all too familiar here in Vermont, so when the mid Atlantic was struck by Hurricane Sandy, Vermonters knew exactly how people felt. Roads washed out or blocked, infrastructure damaged, homes washed away, entire towns flooded, people stranded, people wondering what to do, communities coming together – yes, we do know how you feel. I remember being more worried about Long Island than Vermont before Tropical Storm Irene, and this time praying that both places would be spared. Fortunately Vermont was spared. Not so fortunately, Long Island and the entire tri-state area was pummeled. Having lived through a flood and worked personally and professionally through the aftermath of the storm’s destruction, I can say it is a long road to recovery. But everything will be okay.

Sadly, this time, my favorite place in the entire world flooded – Point Lookout, NY, about which I’ve written many times. As with many other homes, my family’s home flooded. Though an old house, it is not historic; it’s significance to us derives from family memory and emotional importance rather than characteristics of historic integrity qualifying it for the National Register. Though, to us – to our family history – it might as well be a national landmark. So when you say your house or that place is important to you, significant to you though not historically significant on the local, state or national level, I completely understand what you mean.

And our house will be fine in time, though it’s going to require complete renovation. The silver lining is that we were eventually going to get to that point.

If you or anyone you know was affected by Hurricane Sandy, I share your pain and I lend my support. Historic or not, we can all appreciate that every place matters to someone. Historic preservation isn’t only about historically significant buildings; it is about your community and having pride where you live and being a part of the greater story. Stay strong everyone and lend a hand to those in need.

A Favorite Bridge

What is the first type of bridge that comes to mind when you hear the word “bridge”? Do you think of picturesque covered bridges dotting rural roads? Or perhaps a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge? Or maybe that metal truss bridge is your favorite. A concrete arch? A railroad bridge? A new bridge like the Lake Champlain Bridge (a modified network tied arch)?

Long before I thought about bridges the way I do now, and long before I knew about historic preservation, I had a favorite bridge. The Great South Bay Bridges carry the Robert Moses Causeway over the Great South Bay, which separate Captree and Jones Beach Island (both are parts of Long Island, NY). When we saw this bridge, it meant we were getting close to Grandma’s house and soon we’d be driving on Ocean Parkway, which was always one of my favorites roads.

Sister Bridges of the Great South Bay

The Great South Bay Bridge is a cantilevered steel through truss. The two-lane bridge was constructed in 1951, and its three-lane sister bridge was constructed in 1968 in order to handle additional traffic. At that time both bridges began carrying one way traffic. The western original bridge carries the southbound traffic and the newer, eastern bridge carries northbound traffic.

Southbound.

I remember these bridges undergoing rehabilitation when I was growing up. On our trips to Grandma’s house we’d watch the progress; during construction the bridges carried both directions of traffic since the decks were being replaced, one bridge at a time.

Robert Moses Causeway – Great South Bay Bridge southbound

I still love these bridges, as a driver or passenger or pontist (bridge enthusiast). They are a landmark to me, a nostalgic trigger and a beautiful part of the Long Island landscape. Now that I work with bridges and appreciate truss bridges, I have a new level of love for the Great South Bay Bridges.

What about you? What is your favorite bridge? And why?

Rocky Point Drive-in Theater

A follow up to Preservation Photos #120.

Long Island had many drive-in theaters in the 1960s-1970s. The suburban setting and still vast amount of land available was perfect for drive-ins. The Rocky Point Drive-in opened in 1961 with capacity for 750 cars, a modern snack bar, speakers for the cars and a playground for the kids. The spaces for cars were on an angle, so the front of each car would be raised a bit for better viewing. It closed in 1988 and remained empty into the 1990s. After closing as a drive-in, the Rocky Point property reopened as a golf driving range; however, that didn’t last long. You can see in these photographs that the driving range used the existing sign.

Drive-in opening from the Port Jefferson Record in 1961. Found via New York Drive-ins. Click for source and to see additional advertisements.

As a kid, I always found the Rocky Point marquee fascinating; to me it was something tangible of my mother’s childhood, and helped me to imagine what Long Island was like for her. It is a unique relic for Long Island, one left alone among the intensive development. Beyond that marquee, my mother’s stories and the movie Grease, I didn’t have any connections to drive-in theaters. As we know, drive-ins today are few and far between. I don’t think I ever saw one in operation until I lived in Virginia (and my friends and I had to make a trek to find that one).

The marquee for the Rocky Point Drive-in on Long Island has been slowly deteriorating throughout my entire life. For years I  have wanted to stop and photograph the sign, hoping to capture a bit of roadside Long Island before it was too late. Finally, I found the time to do so.

View of the Rocky Point Drive-in marquee on the westbound side (looking east) of Route 25A.

Looking to the former drive-in property.

The abandoned driving range.

Drive-ins existed on Long Island throughout the 1950s-1970s, with many closing in the late ’70s and ’80s; few lasted into the ’90s.  The Westbury Drive-in was the last operating drive-in on Long Island; it closed in 1998 after a long fight. Aside from the lure of indoor theaters, drive-ins closed mostly due to pressures of real estate prices; once closed and demolished, the land became more profitable shopping malls and hotels.

Over the years, "Rocky Point Driving Range" has fallen off to reveal the "Drive-in" sign beneath it.

Side profile of the marquee.

"Rocky Point" covered "Drive-in".

View looking west.

What will happen in this location? There has been talk of big box stores wanting this land for decades. Fortunately, the citizens of Rocky Point are opposed. A Facebook group  is hoping to garner support to reopen the drive-in. Who knows? Maybe it will become  a park and leave some green space on Route 25A.  I’m glad I finally took those pictures.

Preservation Photos #120

The marquee of the long abandoned Rocky Point Drive-in Theater in Rocky Point, NY.

More photos and history coming in another post, later today.

Wednesday Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness. Tuesday Thankfulness.

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Today I am thankful for memories. Memories forge connections with places and those places become important to us. Good memories, nostalgic memories, make our hearts swell and give us a sense of peace. They give us a fond story to tell over and over and images to recall when passing through. Memories keep us grounded, remind us who we are and where we came from; they provide hope and comfort and guidance. Without our individual and collective memories, we would not know what was important to our ancestors or what might be important to our descendants.

Long Island, NY beaches hold some of my favorite memories.

The long leaf pines of the Sandhills Region in North Carolina.

Memories should always include a cute kitten. Here's a baby Izzy.

Take time to wax poetic on your memories and be grateful for them. They’ve made you who you are.

Land’s End

By now, everyone has heard of the tragic demolition of Land’s End, one of Long Island’s Gold Coast mansions. This particular mansion happened to be the one that provided inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.  The Gold Coast of the 1920s stretched from Great Neck to Huntington Bay on the Long Island Sound.

Can you imagine living among stars and lavish parties, so much wealth all in one room? The images are remarkable. F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the roaring 20s. Land’s End represented that time.

Have you watched the CBS Sunday morning video yet? I hadn’t until yesterday. I didn’t want to see a building demolished (abandoned, still standing buildings pull at heart enough as it is). But I finally watched it. And it is heartbreaking. You can see a short video by News12 or a longer (much better) video clip on CBS.

Click for video.

A realtor, Bert Brodsky, and his son bought the $18 million property seven years ago and claimed that the upkeep was too much. So they let it fall. And eventually were able to have it claimed “beyond repair.” Now they plan to construct five $10 million dollar homes. At the end of the CBS Sunday morning video the realtor/owner said that he was sad, but life goes on.

CBS Sunday morning video

What a horrible loss to our heritage. How is it fair and allowed that someone can purchase such a significant property, likely knowing of the upkeep, and then just let it fall to pieces until it is just bad enough to be declared too far gone? It makes me so angry. I have to think that it was carefully calculated, particularly when developers are involved. How about you?

For more information, images, and video read the post and scroll down to the links of the blog 80,000 words. One link is to a New York Times article about F. Scott Fitzgerald. Her flickr set has devastating photographs of the end of the demolition. The strong, lonely chimneys are astounding.

Visit Old Long Island for pictures, and then follow Zach’s lead to Jen Ross’ demolition photos. She has an earlier set of the house in its sad, abandoned state. They are tragically breathtaking.  It is worth your time to browse.

Friday Links

Rather than tell you about the remaining school assignments I have, I thought I’d find some interesting preservation links for you. Happy December! Happy snow!

Enjoy.

* Ah, Long Island, or ultimate suburbia as I call it. Fortunately, there are still some hints of its interesting past. I have no idea how I came across this blog, but Old Long Island features historic images of the great Long Island estates (think Great Gatsby style).  Some posts have Library of Congress images, some have real estate ads, others are from books and other printed materials; most are linked with images to Google Earth. Even if you do not have a Long Island connection, the architecture of these estates is beautiful.

* Sabra, over at My Own Time Machine, always finds interesting articles and current event topics. I love a recent post of hers about Historic Heidelberg – Kerlin Farm, located outside Philadelphia. From the post, this is the issue:

WHAT:   Now under threat of demolition, one of the oldest residences in Pennsylvania at 1050 Ashbourne Road, Cheltenham, PA.  The 300+ year old estate hearkens to the very beginning of European settlement in this region.  It would be difficult to stand in a place that more completely describes the settlement and growth of a particular place over the course of three centuries.  Now it is facing the wrecking ball.

Click through for more information. Be sure to read Sabra’s comment to mine addressing issues such as how much is too far gone, stabilizing ruins, and the education system.

* Route 66 News talks about an article that finds John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley to be fiction. Personally, I could care less if it’s fiction. I love the book anyway. You?

* Are you an alum of the UVM Historic Preservation program? Check out the new HP alumni website. And come to the party on Saturday.

* This warrants a much longer discussion, but for now: the University of Mary Washington has a master plan to raze seven buildings including the historic 1931 Seacobeck Dining Hall. Seriously, UMW? Your historic preservation program is one of the best undergraduate programs in the country and you’re not going to take the advice of that department? Bad move.

* Actually, Preservation Nation’s Story of the Day feature often has stories about demolition threats. Yikes! (Not to be confused with that yikes!) Isn’t it time people got over the whole demolition thing? It’s not green, people.

* Christmas and historic mansions? Oh, how grand living that life must have been.

Shared with me, courtesy of Sabra, who found this on Etsy (via caramelos). If anyone has sent one the way of Preservation in Pink, I’ll love you forever (ahem, sisters). Just kidding! But they are adorable.

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Unrelated but worth sharing:

Follow my sister Annie O’Shea through the skeleton World Cup race series this winter.

Send thank you notes to the United States soldiers! (It takes about five seconds.)

Bicycle Trails

Long Island is just full of surprises for me lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t spent so much time at home in years or maybe it’s because people are working together to improve their quality of life in the non-materialistic sense. Whatever the reason, there are good surprises aside from the Grown on Long Island initiative. (See post August 12, 2009.)  The newest discovery for me is the paved bike path near my house. My youngest sister, always on the move, explores everywhere by bicycle. She and her friend watched the construction of a bike path along the power lines.

In April 2009, a New York Times article by John Rather reported about the Rails-To-Trails Project on Long Island. There are many defunct railroad right of ways on Long Island, many of which are now Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) property. The trails are easily accessible from existing roads and the project could be completed within two years and would connect Port Jefferson Station and Wading River, a distance of 12 miles. The trail would pass historic landmarks and connect with other trails, including the Rocky Point State Preserve, which is part of the Long Island Pine Barrens preserve. A website, LIRR Wading River Rail-Trail,  run by Denis Byrne of the Long Island Greenways and Healthy Trails (LIGHT) has the project information and updates, with pictures of the existing trail before paving. The Three Village Community Trust announced the opening of a short 1.5 mile paved path in May. (I’m unsure if the LIRR Wading River trail is the same as this segment of greenways, but no matter what it is a good thing. Hooray for Long Island Greenways!)

My sister and I went for a bike ride because she wanted to show me the trail and it was amazing! Although short, it is a beautiful path behind houses and under the shade of trees. Best of all, so many people were using the trail! People walked or biked and waved to us and said hello. I actually felt like I lived in a community. Those of you who have grown up in a community where you regularly say hello to passers-by might not understand my amazement with this in my own neighborhood. But, we’ve never had something like this and I am so excited for the area. I think the bike path will be the start of great things around here.  Maybe it will encourage people to drive less or to just get outside more often and appreciate the environment.