Friday, January 12, 2007

Moses and Jane

Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs are still among us, haunting our planning and our ideas about city-building. My forthcoming book on these two towering figures, to be published in 2008 by Random House, will tell the story of showdowns over urban renewal, Washington Square Park and the Lower Manhattan Expressway. The Moses worldview and the necessity of urban infrastructure is getting a fresh blast of scrutiny starting next month in New York, with three concurrent exhibitions: Robert Moses and the Modern City: Remaking the Metropolis, at the the Museum of the City of New York; Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Road to Recreation, at the Queens Museum of Art (; and Robert Moses and the Modern City: Slum Clearance and the Superblock Solution at the Wallach Gallery at my (journalism school) alma mater Columbia University ( The exhibitions run through May and are accompanied by panels and symposia, starting with "Lessons from Robert Moses," Thursday, February 1, at the New York Academy of Medicine and the Museum of the City of New York. James S. Russell, the architecture critic for Bloomberg, will moderate following a keynote address by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff. Robert Caro, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Knopf, 1974), will offer reflections February 11; there will be a panel on Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs on March 7. Columbia University professor Hilary Ballon is curator. The exhibitions will be accompanied by a book, Robert Moses and the Transformation of New York (W.W. Norton), co-edited with Kenneth T. Jackson. I could sure use some ultimate transportation infrastructure: reliable three-hour train service from Boston to New York!