March 31, 2005

How Moses destroyed City - How Jane saved it

Found a 7 part DVD series called, “New York, a Documentary Film”, the last two DVDs of which I feel every bike activist and traffic planner should watch. In it one sees how it was the example that one man, Robert Moses, set that turned what was once a force for good into the very agency of destruction it became for cities across America. One sees how putting cars before people that even more traffic is created as in New York, their roads and bridge and tunnels destroyed a working rail system, countless historical landmarks, whole neighborhoods (Moses displaced a quarter million New Yorkers) and played a part in almost pushing New York itself to bankruptcy.  

It as least is heartening to see that it was a bespectacled housewife named Jane Jacobs who finally was able to stop the Moses machine. Using her book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" as a guide, she was able rally fellow New Yorkers to keep Moses from ramming yet another expressway through her beloved Greenwich Village. It was her and her group’s actions that finally slowed Moses to a crawl. `

It was also good to see that planners and urbanists are beginning to awaken to the damage that the Moses legacy left behind as we try to rebuild the urban landscape. And it was Moses’s love for the automobile, tho he didn’t even drive but relied on chauffeurs, that also gave birth to the historical building preservation movement that we know today.

The film on line:

Posted by mkreig at March 31, 2005 08:33 AM