8. The parkway was delayed because residents feared the creation of a “Chinese wall”

Marine Park Visitors Center
Marine Park

Although construction on the highway was quite successful and quick, the entire route was interrupted for a two-mile stretch between Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park. Local property owners feared that the Belt Parkway would create a “Chinese wall” that would cut them off from the beaches. Resident concerns delayed the completion of the parkway for nearly a year, although Moses would open the final two-mile Brooklyn stretch in May 1941, much to the dismay of these Brooklynites. However, this was not the first time that residents were displeased with the creation of a highway through their community; Robert A. Caro, who wrote a biography of Moses titled The Power Broker, analyzed how the creation of a “Chinese wall” on the Gowanus Parkway accelerated the process of deterioration west of the waterfront.

The widening of the Belt Parkway also did not bode particularly well with the community. Originally constructed as four 12-foot-wide lanes and a wide grassy median, the Belt Parkway was later expanded to six lanes. This expansion occurred in the late 1940s following increases in postwar traffic. The Laurelton Parkway section was actually widened even more to seven lanes.