This is what Robert Moses did to the Bronx.


photos by Roger W. Smith


These photos of mine illustrate that the affected areas of the Bronx are not “walkable.”  As I experienced in a walk from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx all the way back to Manhattan’s East Side.

Imagine if Moses had managed to do the same thing (he came very close to succeeding) to the Village and Soho, ruining much of Lower Manhattan. I shudder to think of it when I contemplate how much I enjoy walking from the Battery uptown, or walking downtown along Broadway.


The Cross Bronx Expressway was the brainchild of Robert Moses. But historically it has been blamed for bisecting the Bronx roughly in half causing a migration of middle and upper class residents to the north and leaving the south portion to become an underserved slum of low-income residents. It displaced as many as 5,000 families when an alternate proposed route along Crotona Park would have only affected 1-2% of that amount. Robert Moses is accused of favoring “car culture” placing an importance on building highways instead of subways in order to grow the city. The construction of large highways like the CBE shelved greater NYC Transit projects including the Second Avenue Subway. Not only did it have these ill effects, but to this day the expressway remains a headache for commuters with stacked and entangled roadways such as the Highbridge and Bruckner Interchanges.

The Sheridan Expressway [in the Bronx] is the work of Robert Moses as well and to this day remains unchanged from its original construction. Not only has it become an eyesore for the Hunts Point community which falls directly under several lanes of highway overpass, but according to a recent NYC Department of City Planning report, its surrounding areas are “congested, confusing, and unwelcoming.”

5 Things in NYC We Can Blame on Robert Moses


Jane Jacobs was the key figure in organizing opposition to and defeating Robert Moses’s plans to extend Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Park in Manhattan; to designate the West Village as a “slum,” which would have meant essentially razing the neighborhood; and, most importantly (and most frightening), to build a Mid-Manhattan Expressway that would have destroyed the character of much of Lower Manhattan and, in the final analysis, of Manhattan itself. It was the beginning and then the apotheosis of Moses’s downfall.

As one film critic has observed, “Jane Jacobs was the David to Robert Moses’s Goliath.” She succeeded against what seemed to be impossible odds.

from a previous post of mine

good riddance to urban renewal

good riddance to urban renewal

In my opinion, [Jane Jacobs] is up there with some of the great thinkers and writers who very simply take a fresh look at prevailing opinions and wisdom, go back to square one — or “first principles” — and, in plain language, without overtheorizing — looking with their own eyes — get us to see the world anew. It’s sort of like an Emperor’s New Clothes phenomenon.

How did she manage to defeat Robert Moses? At the outset, I am sure it would have been regarded as quixotic to try. If Moses had rammed an expressway through the Village and Soho, it would have ruined Manhattan — is the word rape too strong?


— posted by Roger W. Smith

  December 2021

Leave a Reply