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Spargo Park

Spargo Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

George E. Spargo (1903-1987) served as the executive officer of former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1889-1981), and was one of the “Moses Men” until his career ended abruptly in 1964. Spargo was born in Westerly, Rhode Island and received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Rhode Island in 1926. Two years later he moved to New York and lived at 71-40 Juno Street in Forest Hills, Queens with his wife, Madeline, and daughter, Patricia. Spargo was renowned as Moses’s favorite aide. He was one of the few associates with whom Moses would directly interact, and he and Moses were not only professionally close, but also personally; Spargo introduced Moses to his second wife.

For forty years, Robert Moses served as the master builder of New York City. He played a primary role in the development of its parks, transportation, and housing. Beginning in 1924, he held a dozen city and state positions, many concurrently. Invested with this authority, Moses constructed 416 miles of highway, 13 bridges, 658 playgrounds, 17 miles of beach, 11 swimming pools, zoos, recreation centers, and ball fields, and more than doubled the city’s park acreage to 34,673 acres. Aides like Spargo were integral to his success.

As related in Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Moses hired Spargo in the 1920’s and immediately favored him. In 1944, Moses appointed Spargo the general manager of his Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. As soon as Mayor O’Dwyer was elected in 1946, he appointed “Moses Man Spargo” deputy mayor to pay tribute to Moses, who had endorsed him during the election. Caro presents Spargo as pompous and condescending, and attributes this behavior as the reason why O’Dwyer fired him soon thereafter. O’Dwyer allowed Spargo to save face, though, by announcing that he was resigning for “reasons of health.”

In the 1950’s, Spargo was accused of earning outside consulting fees while employed by the City. In Spargo’s defense, Moses said, “If I have accomplished anything in the last thirty-five years, I owe it to able, loyal, unselfish, courageous and enthusiastic men like George Spargo.” In 1964, however, Spargo headed the World’s Fair’s finance committee, and when he told Moses that the Fair was a financial failure, Moses immediately fired him. With this abrupt dismissal, Spargo never got the recognition he felt he deserved. Spargo’s years of loyal service to Robert Moses and New York City made him a legend throughout the state and city government for his ability and drive.

In December of 1936, the Regional Plan Association recommended the construction of a link between the Gowanus Parkway and the Triborough Bridge. What was then called the “Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Highway” was to be financed equally by federal, state and city funds. The construction of the Kosciuszko Bridge over Newtown Creek in 1939 was the first piece of what would later become the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, colloquially referred to as the BQE. Robert Moses adopted the route of today’s BQE in late 1945, and constructed the expressway in the 1950s and 1960s.

On November 17, 1955, the City acquired this Woodside land in order to carry out renovations on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Jurisdiction was conveyed to Parks later that day. Renovations included modifications of the lines and grades of the street system and the laying out of six “sitting parks.” The parks were named by Commissioner Stern on June 18, 1987. Two were called Crosson Green and Crosson Park. The other four - Jennings Park, Latham Park, Sherry Park, and Spargo Park - were all named for the most prominent and dedicated of the “Moses Men.” Spargo Park, which resides at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, is a triangle of greenery enclosed by a fence.

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