Tappan Zee Bridge
"A symbolic span over which Westchester and Rockland Counties will move virtually overnight, twenty years into the future" When Governor Thomas F. Dewey made this pronouncement in December of 1955, it does not seem as though even he knew how true his words would be. It took till 1989 and "Field of Dreams" to coin the phrase "If you build it they will come", but someone could have very well made the same observation during the 1950s in reference to Rockland County New York. Both of these statements cannot fully impress into the minds of readers that changes that came with the opening of a single roadway.
After World War II ended there was a great difference between the number of people who wanted to buy houses and the number of houses that were available. This caused an increase of house building and a change in people's way of life. Those decades marked the beginning of the baby boom and the suburbanization of society. Areas around major cities were the most influenced by such changes and Rockland County, New York, a suburb of New York City, was no different. Every spot in Rockland County lies less then fifty miles from Columbus Circle in Manhattan. This close proximity, along with the "country-like" atmosphere, attracted many people to the area. This area was not easily accessible because it was cut off from New York City by the Hudson River. The building of the Tappan Zee Bridge in 1955 became the gateway to Rockland County and its country atmosphere. Many people flocked to this area and it soon changed dramatically from a rural landscape and agricultural economy to a bustling suburb. The changes that came with this transformation including, population growth, land usage, and infrastructure forever changed the environment of Rockland County.
Up until the late 1940's Rockland County's landscape was best known for the farms that were scattered on its 110,353 acres. During the first few years of the 1950's this landscape saw the rapid disappearance of farms and agricultural lands. This major change occurred from 1950-1954, when the number of farms in the county shrank from 408 to 139. The majority of the farms lost were less than 100 acres. At the turn of the twenty first century about 25 farms still operated in the county, with a total acreage of just over 600. This is a drastic change from the 18,711 acres that were devoted to farms in 1940. This current farming culture is dominated by nurseries and greenhouses on about 24 acres. Most farms in pre-suburban Rockland County produced tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and other crops. In 1968 county officials said that "since 1960 the urbanizing progress had continued to the point where the number of rural families and settlements is infinitesimal and number of operating farms has reached almost the vanishing point" thereby recognizing the changes that were then occurring involving land usage.
This change in land usage during the early 1950's was precipitated by...