Wrestling With Moses

Wrestling With Moses

How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City

Book - 2009
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The David-and-Goliath story of legendary activist Jane Jacobs' clash with "power broker" Robert Moses, an urban planning battle that forever changed the way we look at cities. In 1968, journalist, activist, and writer Jane Jacobs ripped up a stenographer's notes during a public hearing and was charged with inciting a riot. The hearing concerned the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway, a 350-foot wide, fifty-foot-high viaduct that would have linked the East and West sides of Manhattan. The expressway was the final puzzle piece in urban planning giant Robert Moses' vision of a New York City designed to accommodate traffic. But to Jacobs, it was a destructive force that would bruise vital neighborhoods and push out nearly 2,000 families and 800 businesses. The battle between Jacobs and Moses had begun years earlier when Jacobs successfully thwarted Moses' plan to direct traffic through Washington Square Park in the West Village. As a result of these battles, Moses would lose most of the power and influence he had wielded for so long. By successfully confronting Moses, Jacobs forever changed the way Americans viewed the city--as a living, breathing organism rather than a threat that needed to be controlled--and inspired citizens across the country to protest destructive urban "renewal" projects. Wrestling with Moses is a tale of a local battle with national significance, that reminds us of the power of the individual to confront and defy authority.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781400066742
1400066743
Branch Call Number: 711.4 Flint 08/2009
Characteristics: 231 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.

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lukasevansherman
Apr 29, 2018

A very engaging, very relevant book about two major figures in mid-century New York City: Jane Jacobs, the author of the seminal "Death and Life of Great American Cities" and the imperious, imperial city planner Robert Moses. Jacobs and Moses came to blows over specific projects, namely one to run a road through Washington Square and Jacobs's beloved Greenwich Village, but also over the very nature of what cities were for and how they should be designed. It's a debate that is very much with us today and this will be of interest to anyone who cares about cities, about "urban renewal," and about the power of concerned citizens. Obviously, you'll also want to read "Great American Cities" and the massive Moses biography, "The Power Brooker."

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