We Live in a Motorized Civilization: Robert Moses Replies to Robert Caro
12 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2017 Last revised: 26 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 16, 2017
In 1974, Robert Caro published The Power Broker, a critical biography of Robert Moses’s dictatorial tenure as the "master builder" of mid-century New York. Moses profoundly transformed New York's urban fabric and transportation system, producing the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the Westside Highway, the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Lincoln Center, the UN headquarters, Shea Stadium, Jones Beach State Park and many other projects. However, The Power Broker did lasting damage to his public image and today he remains one of the most controversial figures in city planning history. On August 26, 1974, Moses issued a turgid 23-page statement denouncing Caro's work as "full of mistakes, unsupported charges, nasty baseless personalities, and random haymakers." Moses's original typewritten statement survives today as a grainy photocopy in the New York City Parks Department archive. To better preserve and disseminate it, I have extracted and transcribed its text using optical character recognition and edited the result to correct errors. Here I compile my transcription of Moses's statement, alongside Caro's reply to it.
Keywords: urban planning, new york, robert moses, urban history, urban renewal, modernism, urban form, transportation
JEL Classification: L91, L92, O18, R42, R31, N92, P25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation