Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Taste of the (Original) Robert Moses to Close Out August

If you read Gowanus Lounge, you know we often cite Robert Moses and use his name as a pejorative, frequently to refer to the arrogant planning process surrounding Atlantic Yards and the community-violating nature of some of other big projects going up in Brooklyn. The superb Brooklyn Heights Blog offers up some wonderful background on Moses in an item called Heights History: Nabe vs Robert Moses. We'll share some excerpts:
Among his accomplishments, Moses built the Belt Parkway and replaced Brooklyn's shorefront towns with horrific high-rise apartments worthy of the Eastern Bloc.

His 1947 master plan for the BQE would have cut through Brooklyn in a manner similar to his borough hacking construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway proposed at about the same time.

Moses succeeded in destroying a portion of Hicks Street by laying down his 6 lane highway through Red Hook. He met with little opposition from the poor, immigrant Italian community there who feared retaliation — or worse, deportation — from City Hall if they protested...Here in Brooklyn Heights, more affluent and influential residents were able to persuade Moses to accept a compromise — one with roots dating back to Hezekiah Pierrepont’s plan in the 1820s to build a vista point near the water to rival Manhattan's Battery...The "Power Broker" came to an agreement with the community, resulting in the construction of a two-tiered highway and the creation of the Brooklyn Promenade. Both opened in 1954. Reconstruction of this section of the BQE is scheduled to begin next year.
You can find more about Big Bob at Wikipedia and, of course, by reading Robert Caro's The Power Broker, which ascribes virtually everything that is wrong with New York to him.

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