Robert Moses - A Great American

If you were to research Robert Moses on the 'Net he would come accross as the Judge Doom character in the Roger Rabbit movie. He is blamed for everything from global warming to burning down the South Bronx. While working at a state agency he helped create, we had a retired NYC school teacher come in as a temp. When she learned one of our facilities was named for Robert Moses she went into a rant about how the Bronx was a paradise until Moses built the Cross Bronx Expressway. She claimed she and her contemporaries would never have moved up to Westchester except for Robert Moses. Asked about her own private history, she said she grew up on the Lower East Side (where I live now!), and moved to the Bronx (4th floor walkup) when she married (to another school teacher). They moved to Hartsdale when her children reached high school age - one son is an architect and the other a doctor. Yet she insists they would all be in the Bronx if it hadn't "changed"!

I don't think it is fair to blame Moses for social trends simply because he used them to accomplish his goals. (For example expanding toll revenue from the bridges he built were used to finance parks, and road projects.) It is only fair to view his projects in light of what would have been their without him. In terms of public recreation and public access, he was way ahead of his time. Look at the state parks associated with the Power Projects upstate, the parks assoicated with the FDR Drive and Triboro Brindge (Randalls Island). He puposely excluded commercial traffic from park and beach access roads, not because he wanted to exclude the unwashed masses, but because he was ahead of his time in resisting privitatization of natural reasources. Compare pristine Jones Beach to either Coney Island, Rockaways, Fire Isalnd, or the Hamptons. On the other beaches, either public access is almost non-exisitant, or waterfront restuarants, amusement parks, condos, apartment buildings, MacMansions or bungaloes come right up to the edge of the beach.

I wish our paralyzed and impotent civic leadership (they can't seem to do anything constructive to solve energy, environmental, or security problems) were more like Robert Moses.