Redesigning Robert Moses

Howard Kissel in the New York Daily News:

854kissel_robertmosesA few years ago, taking relatives on a walking tour of the West Village, I was struck by how many playgrounds there were. Mentioning it to a friend, I was surprised to learn they were created by Robert Moses.

Until that moment, like many New Yorkers, I had thought of Moses as The Great Satan.

I viewed him through the prism of Jane Jacobs, the author of 1961’s seminal “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Jacobs’ idea of the city – based on streets that mixed residential and commercial uses, all on a human scale – was the direct opposite of his.

He was the proponent of huge apartment complexes with large expanses of grass between them – which, Jacobs correctly observed, remained largely unused.

He was the man who destroyed the South Bronx and many Manhattan neighborhoods to accommodate the automobile.

The demonic view of Moses was reinforced in 1974 by Robert Caro in “The Power Broker,” who stressed the ruthlessness with which he achieved his goals.

Thirty-three years later, Moses is again in the spotlight, this time viewed far more favorably.

More here.