Thesis & Dissertation Help
For more information
Robert Moses and the New York City Highways
Robert Moses and the New York City Highways
This paper discusses Robert Moses and his remarkable ability to garner power and positions for his massive public works projects. It examines his abiity to obtain funding and his relationship with governmetn at the city, state, and federal levels. The never-finished Lower Manhattan Expressway is discussed, and the controversy surrounding Moses' approaches.
Add to cart
From the Paper
Robert Moses and the New York City Highways One of the most polarizing and controversial figures in Americanhistory is urban planner Robert Moses Jeffrey Pfeffer in his bookManaging with Power notes that Moses was included in Life magazine's listof the most influential people in the twentieth century along withRoosevelt Churchill Gandhi and Einstein Pfeffer states I suspectthat if I asked you to choose a position in which you could wield enormouspower you would probably not pick the job of parks commissioner butRobert
While engineers focused on the benefits of safely mov[ing] large volumes of motor vehicles at high speeds, at a low cost to the public treasury," city planners such as Moses "placed more emphasis on the use of freeways to reshape the city...[using them] as a tool to revitalize central business districts and stimulate (or discourage) development in particular portions of the city (4).Furthermore, these conflicting offices did not work well in conjunctionwith one another. Margaret Morton's book TheTunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City is a pictorialdocumentation of the underground tunnel that Moses had built to conceal theHudson River Railroad from the wealthy inhabitants of Riverside Drive. The improvements he made to New York City and its highwayswere phenomenal from an efficiency perspective and in terms of theirbeautification of the slums. |[pic] | | | Works CitedBallon, Hilary, and Kenneth T. In 1933, Moses leveraged his "enormous public popularity" in supportof La Guardia for mayor of New York City in exchange for the appointment toNew York City park commissioner upon La Guardia's election ("RobertMoses"). Robert Moses and the New York City Highways One of the most polarizing and controversial figures in Americanhistory is urban planner Robert Moses. Pfeffer pointsout that in 1924, Moses drafted bills "granting himself extraordinarypowers as Long Island state park commissioner" and set the bills up to bepassed by having them introduced by "a young, naïve legislator" just beforethe session was to end (238). "Demonstrations, mass meetings, andpublic hearings" ensued, and the committee developed an "Alternate Plan"that emphasized minimization of displacement, staged development, and theassigning of first priority for the newly developed housing to the oustedresidents (Jackson 177). Boston: Harvard Business Press, 1994."Robert Moses: Cornelius Amory Pugsley Gold Medal Award, 1936."
."Robert Moses (1888-1981)." National Recreation and Park Association. In 1972,when Mayor John Lindsay refused to reappoint him to the TriboroughAuthority, Moses' career was effectively ended ("Robert Moses"). The Cooper Square Committee started in 1959 to "oppose Robert Moses'slum clearance plans" (Jackson 177). Moses knew how to trade information and contracts for power, andbecause he held such a variety of positions having different source ofpower, "people were reluctant to fight him in any one place, knowing hecould exact retribution in some other arena" (86). Downs' sentiments are echoed by William H. The roads included the Long Island Expressway and GrandCentral Parkway, and the beaches included Coney Island, Rockaway, and JonesBeach (Pfeffer 84). Urban Communication: Production, Text, Context. Mario Maffi notes that"There is a veritable wealth of spaces, intricate passages, and openings atthe disposal of whoever is repulsed or marginalized from the city-for themost part drug addicts and the mentally insane, but also who, for whateverreason, have simply dropped out of society and are unable to adapt to theidea or reality of reintegration" (33). This is not the rebuilding of cities. No mayor or governor dared oppose him" ("RobertMoses"). From the city's perspective, Moses' work was a mixed blessing. The uprising against the Lower Manhattan Expressway was in effect arevolt of the public against the government's movement to expand thehighway system. At the federal level, Moses was good at obtaining majorfederal funding for his park projects from the post-Depression New Dealprogram, which was developed to remedy the "massive unemployment" resultingfrom the Depression ("Robert Moses (1888-1981)"). Any time Congressappropriated New Deal money, Moses met them with "carefully preparedblueprints, specifications, and topographical surveys that the emergingfederal bureaucracies required" ("Robert Moses (1888-1981)"). Of the many bridges and tunnels were the Triborough Bridge and BrooklynBattery Tunnel. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jackson. Thetunnel became the home of many of the homeless, who then became aninvisible community that would not mar the lovely view for the rich. Fannie Mae Foundation. This was howthe Triborough Bridge Authority became known as "the fourth branch ofgovernment," with its records off limits to the public and its policies andplans decided solely by Moses rather than by voters or elected officials("Robert Moses"). His projects leftthe city of New York with 5 , disenfranchised homeless people and a newparadigm of homelessness and marginalization that persists today. He asserted that"this has been the experience again and again in localities in the citywhere modern parkways and expressways have been built," citing the GrandCentral Parkway and the Belt Parkway as examples ("Lower ManhattanExpressway (Unbuilt)"). She argued,"Instead of serving as bypassers, expressways in cities serve toofrequently as dumpers (Jacobs, 485). The freeway would havesevered what since became SoHo, a community that "most would agree is oneof the great success stories in urban rehabilitation" (Gibson & Lowes 2 5). Jane Jacobs, a contemporary of Moses and a vocal opponent of hismethods, complained, "A city cannot be a work of art" (485). Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2 8.Jacobs, Jane. This is the sacking of cities ("Lower Manhattan Expressway (Unbuilt)").Moses, in turn, responded to Jacobs' diatribe by saying that theexpressway's route "passes through a deteriorating area with low propertyvalues due in considerable part to heavy traffic that now clogs the surfacestreets," pointing out that the expressway would relieve that traffic andpromote improvements in housing, business activity, property values, andprosperity ("Lower Manhattan Expressway (Unbuilt)"). The legacy of Robert Moses is enduring, both in a positive and in anegative sense. Moses' efforts were not just for the mayor'sbenefit, however; he was also an excellent strategist in terms ofleveraging opportunities for the furtherance of his work. "Fighting Traffic: U.S. Lutsky explained that "Every morning when amayor comes to work, there are a hundred problems that must be solved,"many of them so large and complex that they seem impossible of solution(Pfeffer 143). Although he received no salary from any ofhis jobs, "his generous expense accounts made compensation superfluous"("Robert Moses"). 2 8
.Gibson, Timothy A., and Mark Douglas Lowes. As Peter Norton (1996) explains, the federal governmenthad begun a large-scale urban highways program that virtually no oneobjected to because "everybody wants better highways," but whenconstruction began, "some stood in wonder at the scale of destructionnecessary to build a freeway through a city." Once residents saw that "itis often necessary to tear down block after block of buildings," oppositionto freeway construction mounted, culminating in what Norton terms a"freeway revolt." This revolt was complicated by the fact that there weremultiple and conflicting reasons behind the construction of freeways.Jeffrey Brown (2 5) explains that there is a substantial difference in theperspectives of engineers and city planners with respect to the purpose offreeways (4). Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2 4.Norton, Peter. Jacobs called the expressway, an example of poor urban planning, describing the potential impact thus: Look at what (they) have built...Promenades that go from no place to nowhere and have no promenaders. New York City: An Outsider's Inside View. "A Tale of Two Visions: Harland Bartholomew, Robert Moses, and the Development of the American Freeway." Journal of Planning History 4.1: 3-32.
.Pfeffer, Jeffrey. Although even Carocalled Moses "'the greatest builder' of urban projects in America," he alsocharacterizes him as dishonest and manipulative, citing an article in TheNew York Times in which Moses is quoted as saying that "a little group ofwealthy men was obstructing the commission's plan to create a state park onthe South Shore," a statement that neglects to mention the fact that alarge majority of the towns involved were against the project and that "ajudge had found his action illegal" (19 ). The New York Approach: Robert Moses, Urban Liberals, and Redevelopment of the Inner City. Downs comments that "the reaction to hisoverwhelming, ego-building, bulldozing approach" has in some respects beentaken "to the extreme," giving "a veto to so many places in the processthat it's extraordinarily difficult to build or rebuild," and he attributesthis result to "Moses not grounding himself in sensitivity to people andcommunities" (Dunlap).
."Lower Manhattan Expressway (Unbuilt)." NYC Roads. She was decrying Moses' proposed planfor a downtown expressway in Manhattan that was to be completed in 1949.Jacobs' book The Death and Life of Great American Cities "won widespreadacclaim for opposing the monumentalism of projects" such as the expressway"in favor of cities that grew organically from the streets andcommunities," and she was instrumental in stopping the construction of theLower Manhattan Freeway (Gibson & Lowes 2 5). "Robert Moses Parts The Waters, Builds The City." Times Square. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1993.von Hoffman, Alexander. By the late 195 s, Moses-who at one point in his career had held 12different New York City and State jobs-was the object of growing publicresentment over his urban reconstruction programs, thus causing his powerto wane ("Robert Moses"). "Marking the Dual Legacy of Robert Moses." New York Times, 4 Dec. Pfeffer states, "I suspectthat if I asked you to choose a position in which you could wield enormouspower, you would probably not pick the job of parks commissioner...butRobert Moses was arguably the most powerful public official in the UnitedStates during the twentieth century" (83).
. Expressways that eviscerate great cities. New York: Queens Museum of Art, 2 7.Brown, Jeffrey. Pfeffergroups Moses with those who can "create resources virtually out of thinair," a skill he ascribes to "the ability to recognize the fundamentalthings that people in a given situation want and need, and then to create aresource that will give one access to and control over them" (84). Moses' prowess in making things happen is lauded by Thomas M. Through his ties to La Guardia,Moses achieved and obtained funding for his projects. In 196 , Mayor Wagner took him out of his citypositions and moved him to the head of the New York World Fair of 1964, andwhen Nelson Rockefeller became governor, Moses lost his New York State jobsentirely, leaving the state government in 1968 ("Robert Moses"). Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven. Alexander vonHoffman (2 ) points out that Stuyvesant Town, the redevelopment projectin Manhattan's Lower East Side, was funded by the New York UrbanRedevelopment Act and assisted politically by Moses, was preceded by thedemolition of "an 18-block area of buildings that housed up to 2 , people" (3 5). During his 44-year career,Moses built "12 bridges, 35 highways, 751 playgrounds, 13 golf courses, 18swimming pools, and more than two million acres of parks in New York"(Pfeffer 83).
.Schwartz, Joel. He had revenuestreams derived from the Triborough Bridge Commission, which he headed,using them to "support the sale of bonds to fund his building programswithout answering to the legislative bodies which normally controlledpatronage" ("Robert Moses"). Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York. Moses' ideas beautified the city at the expense of its people andtheir sense of community. "A Study in Contradictions: The Origins and Legacy of the Housing Act of 1949." Housing Policy Debate 11.2 (2 ). Moses accomplished as much as he did in part because of hisability to leverage local government resources and influence. The same year,the Triborough Bridge Authority's control spanned 161 miles, was "outsidethe city's control and had its own flag, license plates, fleets of yachts,trucks and automobiles," and Moses-at its head-"lived like an emperor, withround-the-clock limousine service and four offices backed by fully-staffeddining rooms" ("Robert Moses"). According to Pfeffer, "There was no debateand they passed unanimously, with the representatives only laterdiscovering the effects of what they had done in such haste" (238). By creating roadways for travel, Moses stretched the cityout over a larger expanse, making it cleaner and more beautiful but in theprocess changing the character of the city. The residents wereessentially ousted from their homes and left to scramble about findingsomewhere else to live. To his detractors, however, Moses was a self-serving tyrant whoseprograms crushed the poor of the city.
.Maffi, Mario. His designs relegated the poor, ethnic, andracial minorities to areas distant from those of the wealthy, creating adiscriminatory paradigm that persists. Downs,the current president of the New York Transit Authority, who states, "WhatI envy about Moses is his ability to get things done" (Dunlap). Roosevelt was a bitter political enemy, but even he as presidentand "at the zenith of his own popularity and prestige" failed in hisattempt to remove Moses and "was forced to retreat by the storm of acclaimand support for Moses that came not only from New York, but from all acrossthe country" ("Robert Moses"). Like manyof Moses' other detractors, however, Downs tempers that praise with abelief that "the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Cross Bronx Expressway,both Moses projects, destroyed the areas through which they were run" andan acknowledgment that Moses' work must have created suffering in the cityand its neighborhoods (Dunlap). Transportation Policy and Urban Congestion, 1955-197 ." Essays in History 38 (1996).
.Caro, Robert A. Jeffrey Pfeffer, in his bookManaging with Power, notes that Moses was included in Life magazine's listof the 1 most influential people in the twentieth century, along withRoosevelt, Churchill, Gandhi, and Einstein (83). Among the public structures he built were the Lincoln Centerfor the Performing Arts, the United Nations Headquarters, and Shea Stadium. Sage Journals. From yet another perspective, that of government, Moses was a hardworker who continued to gain power because he was a consummate problemsolver, for which he was praised by Judge Jacob Lutsky in the La Guardiaadministration (Pfeffer 143). Caro, stated in his book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and theFall of New York, that "there were many complex reasons for the realizationof Robert Moses' state park and parkway plan. University of Virginia. Moses certainly beautified New York City, particularly through hismassive slum clearance efforts, but at the same time, he displaced hundredsof thousands of people who then had nowhere else to go. Like other powerful figures of his day, Moses "realized that variouskinds of resources, including allies, are vitally important as sources ofpower" (83). Although Stuyvesant Town housed 24, , its rents "averagedtwice what the previous residents of the site had paid," so they could nolonger afford to live there (von Hoffman 3 5). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2 6.Gratz, Roberta Brandes. Lombardi points out that Moses iscriticized for having "damaged the urban environment, as he razed wholeneighborhoods and...is often credited as destroying such areas as SouthBronx and sections of Coney Island." Moreover, he notes of Moses, "Manyperceived his actions as representative of a man who did not generally careabout the overall welfare of lower class, often times non-white, NewYorkers" (Lombardi). Whyte,Jr., champion of urban public spaces, who commented that "the rebuilding ofour cities...is not the same as liking cities...most of the rebuildingunder way and in prospect is being designed by people who don't likecities" (Gratz). Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations. Moses acknowledged tohis associates that "As long as you're fighting for parks, you can be sureof having public opinion on your side...You can't lose," and he indeedreceived so much attention from the press and the public that he became"politically untouchable. One of the problems for the urban planner of Moses' daywas "managing the difficult and ill-defined partnership between the federalgovernment, the city, and private developers in urban renewal" (Ballon &Jackson 96). "But," he asserts, "you give a problemto Moses and overnight he's back in front of you-with a solution, allworked out down to the last detail," including drafts of the speeches thatneed to be made to the public to support it, as well as press releases forthe newspapers and drafts of the state laws that will need to be passed tofacilitate it, even "advice as to who should introduce the bills in thelegislature" (Pfeffer 143). Brooklyn attorney and housing reformer Louis H.Pink, however, sided with Moses, saying, "Even though the housing whichreplaces these rookeries rents for more than a working man can afford...itis entirely worthwhile to get rid of such plague spots" (Schwartz 33).
.Jackson, Mandi Isaacs. On theone hand, he eliminated the dirty, seamy, run-down dwellings that were aneyesore in the area, but on the other hand, he left 5 , poor peoplewithout a place to live that was affordable. On the positive side, the expressway would have created a "much-neededcrosstown connection between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, andthe Holland Tunnel, serving local cross-Manhattan traffic as well astraffic from the bridges and the tunnel," expanding crosstown trafficcapacity and relieving "congestion on north-south streets by minimizingdelays at heavily traveled crosstown streets" ("Lower Manhattan Expressway(Unbuilt)"). Moses later wrote that he was only interested in taking the cityjob if he would have "unified power over all the city parks, and even then,only as part of unified control of the whole metropolitan system of parksand parkway development" ("Robert Moses"). Thefirst two years of the New Deal's federal Works Progress Administration sawan allocation of $113 million for New York City parks and recreation("Robert Moses (1888-1981)"). "Robert Moses Reconsidered: Blight Is In The Eye Of The Beholder." CityLimits.org. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.Dunlap, David W. Without the need for political patronage, hewas free to hire "elite professional staff" ("Robert Moses"). He also"took advantage of the New Deal's ideological commitment to expandingrecreational facilities, as when he influenced Harold Ickes who, asSecretary of the Interior and head of the Public Works administration,aimed to "[revitalize] democracy by building community institutions such asrecreation centers and playgrounds" ("Robert Moses (1888-1981)"). By 196 , the budgets Moses controlled added up to $213 million derivedfrom Niagara and Massena electrical generation, the budgets of city andLong Island State Parks, and bridge tolls ("Robert Moses"). Pfeffercompares Moses with the other power brokers of his day and notes that Moses"realized that various kinds of resources, including allies, are vitallyimportant as sources of power" (83), pointing out that Moses amassed hisinfluence by accumulating positions "that often initially appeared to be oflittle importance," such president of the Long Island State Commission andcommissioner of the New York City Department of Parks (86). Theeviction of the poor to make way for the rich was by many accounts thebeginning of the massive homelessness problem that New York has faced eversince and that today is even greater than ever. One of his most vociferous critics,Robert A. Despite his immense power, Moses was"nevertheless constrained by many forces: government bureaucracy, interestgroups, community activists, the private sector" (Lombardi). Despite Moses' efforts, the Lower ManhattanExpressway project was never completed. As his detractors pointed out, however, Mosesfailed to accommodate the human element in his plans. The mayor asks people for solutions, but most cannotprovide any, and those that are provided are "unrealistic or impractical-orjust plain stupid" (Pfeffer 143). New York: Random House, 1993.Lombardi, Ken. But the key reason wassimple: the further evolution of Robert Moses" (2 7).
Ask a question about this product
Also Search for Robert Moses and the New York City Highways in all categories
RACE & RESTRUCTURING OF NEW YORK CITY.
History of negative impact on poor & minorities of city's development & economic transformation from manufacturing to services.
RACE & RESTRUCTURING OF NEW YORK CITY.
Cart is empty
your site has been hacked
AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES
ART: ARTISTS (ALPHABETIZED)
ART: FASHION / DESIGN
BOOK REVIEWS (NON-FICTION) (ALPHABETIZED)
BUSINESS: COMPANIES (ALPHABETIZED)
BUSINESS: INDUSTRIES (ALPHABETIZED)
COMMUNICATION: LANGUAGE & SPEECH
COMMUNICATION: TELEVISION & CHILDREN
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: GENERAL
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: POLICE SCIENCE
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: PRISONS
DEATH & DYING: EUTHANASIA
DEATH & DYING: GENERAL
DEATH & DYING: SUICIDE
ECONOMICS: ECONOMISTS (ALPHABETIZED)
ECONOMICS: INTERNATIONAL TRADE
EDUCATION: DISTANCE LEARNING
EDUCATION: TEACHING METHODS
FAMILY & MARRIAGE
FILMS: ARTISTS (ALPHABETIZED)
FINANCE: COMPANIES (ALPHABETIZED)
FORMER SOVIET UNION: POST-1990
GENDER & SEXUALITY
HISTORY: ANCIENT GREEK & ROMAN
HISTORY: GREAT BRITAIN
HISTORY: U.S. (After 1865)
HISTORY: U.S. (Before 1865)
HISTORY: U.S. PRESIDENCY
HISTORY: U.S. PRESIDENTS (ALPHABETIZED)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: ARMS CONTROL
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: COLD WAR
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: NON-U.S.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: U.S.
LAW: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
LAW: INTERNATIONAL & NON-U.S.
LAW: SUPREME COURT
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: AUTHORS (ALPHABETIZED)
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: FAULKNER
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: FITZGERALD
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: GENERAL
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: HAWTHORNE
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: HEMINGWAY
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: MELVILLE
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: POE
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: STEINBECK
LITERATURE, AMERICAN: TWAIN
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: AUTHORS (ALPHABETIZED)
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: CHAUCER
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: CONRAD
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: DICKENS
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: GENERAL
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: JOYCE
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: LAWRENCE
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: SHAKESPEARE
LITERATURE, ENGLISH: SWIFT
LITERATURE, GENERAL: CHILDREN
LITERATURE, GENERAL: CLASSIC (GREEK & ROMAN)
LITERATURE, GENERAL: RUSSIAN
LITERATURE, GENERAL: WORLD
MARKETING: COMPANIES (ALPHABETIZED)
MEDICAL: DISEASES & DISORDERS (ALPHABETIZED)
MIDDLE EAST: EGYPT
MIDDLE EAST: GENERAL
MIDDLE EAST: ISRAEL
MIDDLE EAST: O.P.E.C.
PHILOSOPHY: ANCIENT GREEK
POLITICAL SCIENCE: ELECTIONS & CAMPAIGNS
POLITICAL SCIENCE: FOREIGN
POLITICAL SCIENCE: LOBBYISTS & PRESSURE GROUPS
POLITICAL SCIENCE: MACHIAVELLI
POLITICAL SCIENCE: MILL
POLITICAL SCIENCE: POLITICAL THEORY
POLITICAL SCIENCE: U.S.
PRO & CON
PSYCHOLOGY: CHILD & ADOLESCENT
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: GENERAL
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: GOVERNMENT AGENCIES (ALPHABETIZED)
RECREATION & LEISURE
RELIGION: THE BIBLE
RESEARCH: COMPLETED STUDIES (With Statistics & Results)
RESEARCH: DESIGNS & PROPOSALS
RESEARCH: STATISTICS & METHODOLOGY
RUSSIA: PRE-1917 REVOLUTION
SOCIOLOGY: SOCIAL PROBLEMS
SOCIOLOGY: SOCIAL THEORY
SOCIOLOGY: SOCIAL WELFARE
SOVIET UNION: 1917-1990
Show all subjects...
Thesis and Dissertation
Terms of Service
Copyright © 1970-2014 Research Assistance