Jason Haber on the Master Builder, Robert Moses | Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed.TV


♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>HI. I’M BOB HERBERT. WELCOME TO OP-ED-TV. ROBERT MOSES DIED NEARLY FOUR DECADES AGO. HE IS LARGELY FORGOTTEN NOW, BUT THERE WAS A TIME WHEN HE WIELDED THE POWER OF A COLOSSUS IN NEW YORK CITY AND NEW YORK STATE. NICKNAMED THE MASTER BUILDER, HE WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE CREATION OF — A HOLD YOUR BREATH — JONES BEACH STATE PARK, THE TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE, THE QUEENS MIDTOWN TUNNEL, BROOKLYN BATTERY TUNNEL, THE NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR, LINCOLN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, THE VERRAZANO-NARROWS BRIDGE, STUYVESANT TOWN, THE LONG ISLAND EXPRESSWAY, AND ON AND ON. YOU WOULD IMAGINE THAT SOMEONE WITH THAT TRACK RECORD WOULD BE A CELEBRATED FIGURE IN THIS TOWN, BUT MOSES WAS HUGELY CONTROVERSIAL AND IN MANY QUARTERS REVILED. I LOOK BACK ON THE REMARKABLE LIFE AND TIMES OF ROBERT MOSES WITH MY GUEST JASON HABER, NEW YORK CITY REAL ESTATE EXPERT, WHO HAS LECTURED EXTENSIVELY ON ROBERT MOSES. JASON, THANK YOU FOR COMING IN.>>THANKS FOR HAVING ME.>>MOST NEW YORKERS DON’T REALIZE IT BUT WE LIVED IN AN ENVIRONMENT LARGELY SHAPED BY ROBERT MOSES.>>EVERY DAY YOU TOUCH SOMETHING THAT ROBERT MOSES BUILT — IT’S PART OF YOUR EXISTENCE IN NEW YORK CITY, EVERY SINGLE DAY.>>WHO WAS THIS LARGELY FORGOTTEN MAN AND HOW DID HE BECOME SO INFLUENTIAL IN POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT IN NEW YORK?>>FIRST THINGS FIRST, WHEN YOU GOOGLE ROBERT MOSES, OFTENTIMES YOU SEE SENATOR ROBERT MOSES, GOVERNOR ROBERT MOSES, MAYOR ROBERT MOSES. HE WAS NONE OF THOSE.>>ALL WRONG.>>ALL WRONG. HE WAS NEVER ELECTED FOR OFFICE. HE DID RUN FOR THE SENATE ONCE. IT WAS A DISASTER, GOT DESTROYED. SO, UNELECTED, WHICH IS FIRST WE HAVE TO SAY, VERY KEY IMPORTANT POINT. SECONDLY, HE DREW HIS POWER FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THE STATE GOVERNMENT, AND FROM THE CITY GOVERNMENT. AT ONE POINT HE HELD 12 APPOINTED POSITIONS AT THE SAME TIME. ANY ONE OF THOSE WOULD BE A CAREER CAPSTONE.>>THESE WERE IMPORTANT POSITIONS.>>THESE WERE NOT SMALL POSITIONS. HE WOULD PROPOSE PROJECTS ONE COMMISSION HAD AND APPROVE WHAT HE PROPOSED IN ANOTHER ONE. [LAUGHING]>>WE HAVE NEVER HAD THIS BEFORE. IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO WORK THIS WAY IN A DEMOCRACY.>>WHY DID HE HOLD SO MANY OFFICES? HE WORKED FOR MAYORS AND GOVERNORS, BUT HOW DID HE GET SO MANY APPOINTMENTS?>>FIRST, HE HAD THE POWER IN HIS HANDS. IT STARTS VERY SMALL, BUT IT STARTS WITH JONES BEACH WHERE FIRST ACHIEVED POWER UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF AL SMITH. THE AL SMITH STORY IS FASCINATING. ROBERT MOSES FIRST GOES INTO GOVERNMENT AS A REFORMER. HE GETS KICKED OUT OF GOVERNMENT BECAUSE HE TRIES TO MAKE SO MANY CHANGES. BY THE TIME HE WAS 35, HE COULDN’T GET A JOB IN GOVERNMENT.>>THIS WAS BACK IN THE HEYDAY OF TAMMANY HALL.>>ABOUT 100 YEARS AGO, YEAH. HE COMES BACK TO POWER WITH AL SMITH AND CREATES JONES BEACH. EVERYONE AGREES THAT’S A MASTERPIECE OF PLANNING IN AND OF ITSELF. IT’S WORTH NOTING HE LIED TO THE LEGISLATURE ABOUT THE COST OF JONES BEACH AND HE LEARNED TECHNIQUES ALONG THE WAY, WHICH IS, IF YOU FIND SOMETHING AND IT’S HALFWAY DONE YOU GO BACK TO THE LEGISLATURE AND YOU SAY THINGS LIKE ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE A PROJECT HALFWAY DONE? OF COURSE NOT.>>EVEN IF YOU GO OVER BUDGET — >>IT’S OKAY. WHAT’S INTERESTING ABOUT MOSES IS HE’S SO POWERFUL, ESPECIALLY HIS INITIAL SUCCESS OF BUILDING EMPTY SPACES ON LONG ISLAND JONES BEACH, HE WOULD THREATEN TO RESIGN HIS POSITION IF HE DIDN’T GET HIS WAY. IF YOU ARE MAYOR OR GOVERNOR AND YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, YOU CAN’T LOSE YOUR MOST POPULAR COMMISSIONER. THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE MOSES. HE WAS REAPPOINTED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.>>TALK ABOUT THE TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE. THAT’S WHERE HE GOT SO MUCH OF THE REVENUE TO FINANCE PROJECTS HE WANTED TO BUILD.>>THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE MOSES EMPIRE. MOSES USES THE TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE AUTHORITY TO UNDERWRITE HIS ENTIRE PROGRAM. THE FUNDS FOR THE AUTHORITY, WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO GO BACK TO THE STATE, DID NOT.>>THIS IS A TOLL BRIDGE.>>YOU PAID A TRIBUTE TO MOSES EVERY TIME YOU WENT OVER THE BRIDGE. HE WENT DEEP INTO THE BODY OF THE LEGISLATION TO CREATE THE AUTHORITY. HE WROTE A LANGUAGE THAT NO ONE BOTHERED TO LOOK AT. IT GAVE HIM POWER TO ISSUE BONDS AGAINST INCOME. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. YOU HAVE INCOME COMING IN OF $100 MILLION, YOU CAN ISSUE BONDS OF $1 BILLION OR SO AGAINST THE REVENUE. YOU HAVE A CONTINUOUS REVENUE STREAM. YOU HAVE BONDS THAT ARE NOW ISSUED AND THEN HE CONTROLS THE MONEY.>>OUTSIDE THE TAX REVENUE AND BUDGETARY POWERS OF NEW YORK CITY AND NEW YORK STATE.>>AND THEN ELECTED OFFICIALS GOING TO MOSES TO USE HIS FUNDS FOR OTHER PROJECTS AND MOSES GETS TO DECIDE AT HIS SOUL COMMAND WHAT HAPPENS TO THE MONEY. HE USES IT WITH IMPUNITY AND DECIDES HE IS GOING TO USE THAT MONEY TO BUILD IN HIS VISION OF WHAT HE THINKS IT MEANS TO LIVE IN A MODERN CITY. POST-WORLD WAR II, NEW YORK BECOMES NOT JUST THE CENTER OF THE COUNTRY, BUT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD IN MANY WAYS. THE U.N. COMES HERE. WE ARE NOT A CAPITAL CITY. WE THINK OF MOST INTERNATIONAL CITIES. LONDON IS THE CAPITAL CITY. PARIS IS THE CAPITAL. NEW YORK IS NOT CAPITAL OF OUR STATE LET ALONE OUR COUNTRY. NEW YORK KICKS OFF THIS INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR. ALL OF THE GIs AND INTERNATIONALS ARE COMING HERE, HE’S GOING TO IN HIS MIND CREATE THE MODERN CITY. THE VERSION OF WHAT A MODERN CITY IS.>>THAT CITY WAS AN ANGULAR CITY WITH SIMPLE AND IN MANY CASES HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS AND HIGHWAYS RUNNING RIGHT THROUGH THE CITY.>>ORDER. TH IDEA WAS THAT THE CITY OF THE OLD, WHICH IS THE CHAOS AND CACOPHONY, IN SOME CASES A LOT OF TENEMENT HOUSING, WE ARE GOING TO REPLACE THAT DISORDER WITH THE LINEAR ORDER, SORT OF MONOTONE HIGH-RISES AND BIG WIDE HIGHWAYS RUNNING THROUGH THE CITY, AND THAT IS GOING TO BE THE CITY OF THE FUTURE.>>I MENTIONED HE’S REVILED TO THIS DAY IN MANY CIRCLES. IT SEEMS ODD BECAUSE A LOT OF THINGS HE BUILT ARE THINGS A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE CRAZY ABOUT. JONES BEACH WE MENTIONED AND LINCOLN CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS ETC. ETC.. HOW DID HE BECOME SUCH A LOATHED FIGURE IN NEW YORK?>>I’D SUM UP ROBERT MOSES IN THIS ONE SENTENCE: NEW YORK NEEDED A ROBERT MOSES, INSTEAD WE GOT THE ROBERT MOSES. WE NEEDED SOMEONE WHO COULD THINK ABOUT PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE AND INSTEAD WE GOT SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE IN A WAY THAT HE SAW IT WITHOUT ANY CHECKS AND BALANCES THAT WE HAVE IN A DEMOCRACY. WHAT HAPPENS IS WHEN ONE PERSON IS EMPOWERED TO MAKE THOSE KINDS OF DECISIONS, AND THAT ONE PERSON IS RACIST, HAS A DISDAIN CLEARLY FOR POOR PEOPLE, FOR IMMIGRANTS, FOR WORKING CLASS FOLKS, THEY’RE GOING TO BE GENERATIONAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THOSE PEOPLE AND FOR THE CITY. THAT’S REALLY WHAT HAPPENED HERE.>>LET’S CITE A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES. ONE OF THE FAMOUS ONES HAS TO DO WITH THE LEAD UP TO THE CREATION OF THE CROSS BRONX EXPRESSWAY. THERE WAS A NEIGHBORHOOD EAST TREMONT SECTION OF THE BRONX. THAT HAD TO BE CLEARED FOR THIS HIGHWAY.>>MOSES HAD A SLUM CLEARANCE COMMITTEE. THEY SENT OUT NOTICES TELLING PEOPLE THEY HAD 90 DAYS TO GET OUT. HE WAS TRYING TO SORT OF, SHAKE THEM UP AND SEE AS HE WOULD SAY. THE IDEA BEHIND THE HIGHWAY WAS IT WAS GOING TO CUT THROUGH EAST TREMONT. THE NEIGHBORHOOD THERE FORMED AND ASSOCIATION AND THEY FOUND OUT THAT THE HIGHWAY COULD BE MOVED WITHOUT COSTING MORE AND WOULD SAVE THOUSANDS OF HOMES. THEY DID WHAT ANY GOOD CITIZEN WOULD DO. THEY GOT THEIR ASSEMBLY PERSON ON BOARD, THEY GOT THEIR CONGRESS PERSON ON BOARD AND THE BOROUGH PRESIDENT. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH THEY GOT THE MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ON BOARD WHO WAS ROBERT WAGNER AND HE WAS RUNNING FOR MAYOR. THEY HAD A LETTER FROM WAGNER SAYING HE WOULD NOT SUPPORT THE PLAN FOR THE CROSS BRONX EXPRESSWAY. HE APPEARED AT A MEETING SAYING HE WOULD NOT SUPPORT THE CROSS BRONX EXPRESSWAY. THIS WAS THE 1950s. THIS WAS NOT THE 1960s. CULTURALLY THINGS WERE DIFFERENT. THEY WERE NOT RALLYING AGAINST GOVERNMENT LIKE THEY WOULD DO 10-15 YEARS LATER.>>THIS WAS A VIBRANT NEIGHBORHOOD. THIS WAS NOT A SLUM.>>A REALLY FUNCTIONING MIDDLE-CLASS. JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD, ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD, IT WAS A DIVERSE NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU HAD PEOPLE LIVING IN A CITY, AND THEY WERE NOT WORKING IN FINANCE OR REAL ESTATE. THEY HAD WORKING-CLASS JOBS AND THEY WERE MAKING IT IN THE CITY. THEY CAME TO CITY HALL EXPECTING THEY WOULD WIN BECAUSE THEY HAD THE SUPPORT OF ALL THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS. AT THIS POINT IN THE HISTORY OF THE CITY NONE OF THE ELECTED OFFICIAL SUPPORT MATTERED BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE POWER ROBERT MOSES DID. MOSES COMES INTO THE OLD BOARD OF ESTIMATES ROOM AND WHISPERS INTO THE EAR AND ALL OF A SUDDEN WAGNER HAD A CHANGE OF HEART. HE CHANGED HIS MIND. THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW IT’S APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.>>AN EXAMPLE OF THE TREMENDOUS POWER HE HAD. THE COMMUNITY WAS AGAINST HIM. YOU HAD PUBLIC OFFICIALS LISTENING TO THE COMMUNITY AND SAYING THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. AS YOU POINTED OUT, ONE MAN GETS PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO CHANGE HIS MIND. THE OTHER POINT WAS THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THE CROSS BRONX TO GO THROUGH THAT NEIGHBORHOOD. EXPLAIN THAT.>>THERE WAS ANOTHER ROUTE THAT WOULD’VE AVOIDED DECIMATING THOUSANDS OF HOMES. HE JUST DIDN’T WANT TO PUT IT THERE BECAUSE HE DIDN’T CARE. HE SAW IT AS AN IMPEDIMENT. HE SAW PEOPLE AS GETTING INTO HIS WAY. HE WOULD COMPLAIN, THOSE WHO CRITICIZE DON’T BUILD, THIS HAS TO BE DONE AND WE ARE GOING TO LOSE FEDERAL FUNDING IF WE DON’T DO IT THIS WAY. ANY EXCUSE IN THE BOOK. HE JUST DIDN’T CARE. ESPECIALLY THE FACT THERE WERE WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE WHICH HE LOOKED DOWN ON. HE WENT TO THE MEETING AND SNEERED AT THEM. THEY WERE SMALL, LITTLE PEOPLE AND HE DIDN’T CARE.>>1500 BUILDINGS DEMOLISHED TO MAKE WAY FOR THE CROSS BRONX. THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE JUST THROWN OUT OF THEIR HOMES. THEY HAD TO GO ELSEWHERE.>>AND THE COMMITTEE DIDN’T HELP HIM FIND ANOTHER ONE.>>YOU MENTIONED HE’S RACIST AND ROBERT CARO WHO WROTE THE BIOGRAPHY OF BOB MOSES SAID AT THE VERY LEAST HE WAS ONE OF THE MOST RACIST INDIVIDUALS HE EVER MET. HOW DID THIS RACISM OF MOSES MANIFEST ITSELF?>>ALL OF HIS PROJECTS WERE EITHER TINGED BY RACISM OR SCORCHED BY IT. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THE WAY HE PLANNED FROM THE HATRED, THE TRUE HATRED, THAT THIS MAN HAD WHETHER IT’S DISPLACING PEOPLE OR HOW HE BUILT HIS HIGHWAYS OR EVEN SMALLER THINGS. THERE ARE STORIES ABOUT HE WOULD BUILD A POOL IN HARLEM BUT DIDN’T WANT AFRICAN-AMERICANS TO USE IT. HE WOULD KEEP IT COLD THINKING THEY WOULDN’T LIKE COLD WATER. IS WELL DOCUMENTED IN THE CARO BOOK. THERE ARE ON AND ON STORIES ABOUT MOSES’ HATRED TOWARD AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND OTHER MINORITY COMMUNITIES.>>MOST OF THE TIME EAST TREMONT WAS A BIT OF AN OUTLIER. AS YOU POINTED OUT, IT WAS LARGELY JEWISH AND ITALIAN, WORKING-CLASS AND MIDDLE-CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD. MOST OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS THAT HE PLOWED THROUGH WERE OVERWHELMINGLY BLACK, PUERTO RICAN, AND/OR POOR.>>HIS CALLING CARD WAS HE WAS GOING TO DO IT HIS WAY, HIS HIGHWAY. HE WAS GOING TO DO WHAT HE WANTS TO GET DONE. ALSO, THERE IS THE — OF THE MAN HAS TO BE LOOKED AT. WHEN YOU HAVE SOMEONE THAT HAS SUCH POWER IN A DEMOCRACY WHO IS RACIST AND IS USING HIS FEELINGS AND IMPLEMENTING THESE HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES AND PARKS, HOW COULD IT NOT INFLICT TREMENDOUS HARM ON THOSE POPULATIONS? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. WE SEE THE CITY ERODE FROM POSTWAR. IN 1945, THINK HOW EXCITING IT WAS TO BE IN NEW YORK CITY. REMEMBER THE PICTURES IN TIMES SQUARE. THIS WAS THE PLACE TO BE. 30 YEARS LATER THE CITY IS BROKE. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENS? THAT’S ROBERT MOSES. A LOT OF IT IS BECAUSE OF ROBERT MOSES. THE NATIONAL SHAME IS, URBAN PLANNERS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY CAME TO NEW YORK TO LEARN FROM MOSES AND THEN A LOT OF WHAT HE DID HERE WAS IMPLEMENTED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.>>TALK ABOUT LINCOLN CENTER. I THINK LINCOLN CENTER IS A WONDERFUL PLACE. ONCE AGAIN, THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAD TO BE DEMOLISHED TO MAKE WAY FOR LINCOLN CENTER. WHAT WAS THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIKE?>>MOSTLY PUERTO RICAN NEIGHBORHOOD. IT WAS THE WESTSIDE STORY.>>SOME OF THE EARLY SCENES OF THE JETS IN WESTSIDE STORY TOOK PLACE ON THE RUBBLE AT THAT SITE BECAUSE LINCOLN CENTER HAD NOT YET BEEN BUILT.>>AGAIN, WE SEE A CULTURAL CENTER COMING BEFORE THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE. I THINK THIS IS THE OVERRIDING THEME WITH MOSES. PEOPLE ARE PUT LIST WHEN YOU ARE PLANNING. THIS IS WHAT WE ARE SEEING TIME AND TIME AGAIN. THE WAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO PLAN IS YOU PUT THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE HOW THEY LIVE, WORK AND PLAY FIRST, AND THEN YOU BUILD AROUND THE CONSTRUCT. HE DID THE OPPOSITE. HE WANTS TO LOCATE A CULTURAL CENTER, HE SAID WE ARE GOING TO PUT IT HERE AND THAT WAS IT. AGAIN, SLUM CLEARANCE COMMITTEE WHICH HE CHAIRED DID NOT HELP A SINGLE PERSON FIND A NEW HOME.>>YOU MENTIONED WHAT HAPPENED TO NEW YORK IN THE YEARS, TWO OR THREE DECADES AFTER THE 1950s, AND THE ROLE MOSES PLAYED IN THAT. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WAS WHAT HAPPENED WITH MASS TRANSIT. IN A CITY LIKE NEW YORK, MASS TRANSIT IS OR SHOULD BE A LIFEBLOOD. HE HATED MASS TRANSIT. I DON’T THINK THAT’S TOO STRONG A TERM. EXPLAIN HOW MASS TRANSIT FACILITIES WERE NOT PROPERLY MAINTAINED AND NEW FACILITIES WERE NOT BUILT AND EXISTING FACILITIES WERE NOT EXTENDED AND SO FORTH.>>MOSES IS THE GREATEST ADVOCATE FOR THE CAR. THERE’S OPPORTUNITY COSTS WHEN YOU ARE BUILDING. EVEN WHEN YOU’RE SPENDING $150 BILLION IN TODAY’S MONEY, WHICH IS WHAT HE SPENT, MOST OF IT FOR AUTOMOBILE-BASED TRANSPORTATION. THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY COST, WHICH IS WE ARE GOING TO INVEST IN HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND TUNNELS, BUT WE ARE NOT GOOD INVEST IN THE MASS TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE. WE SEE THAT DURING THE MOSES ERA, DURING HIS 44 YEARS IN POWER, MASSIVE DISINVESTMENT FROM THE TRAIN. WE SEE THAT TO THIS DAY. I CALL MOSES THE ORIGINAL SIN OF ALL OF OUR MASS TRANSIT PROBLEMS BECAUSE WE UNDERFUNDED FOR SO MANY YEARS. WE FELL SO FAR BEHIND. OTHER ISSUES OF COURSE WITH MTA. IT BEGINS WITH ROBERT MOSES. IF WE HAD MADE INVESTMENTS IN MASS TRANSIT AND NOT THE CAR AS WE DID, THE CITY WOULD BE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TODAY.>>SOME OF US ARE OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHAT THE SUBWAY SYSTEM WAS LIKE IN THE ’70s AT THE TIME OF THE FISCAL CRISIS. IT WAS REALLY HORRENDOUS.>>THERE WAS A LOT OF CRIME. YOU HAD THE GRAFFITI. YOU HAD A SYSTEM THAT DIDN’T RUN. YOU HAD THE DEMOLISHING OF PENN STATION, WHICH I THINK IS SYMBOLIC OF THE ERA. THE GREATEST STRUCTURE EVER BUILT IN NORTH AMERICA. THE GREATEST STRUCTURE EVER BUILT IN NORTH AMERICA. THOSE WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH GRAND CENTRAL STATION — GRAND CENTRAL STATION COULDN’T HOLD A CANDLE TO PENN STATION. MOSES DIDN’T DEMOLISH PENN STATION HIMSELF, BUT HE SET THE CLIMATE FOR ITS DESTRUCTION. THE CAR AT THAT POINT IN TIME WAS SYMBOLIC OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM, YOU CAN GO WHERE YOU GO ANTIME, AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE TYRANNY OF THE TRAIN SCHEDULE. THIS WAS THE MODERN WAY TO MOVE AROUND THE CITY. THE CITY HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE FOR 6000 YEARS. CARS HAVE BEEN WITH US ABOUT 100 OR SO. THE IDEA ABOUT A CAR IN A CITY THAT COULD PEACEFULLY COEXIST IN A MASS WAY IS PROVEN TO BE FALSE. MOSES BELIEVED THAT COULD BE TRUE.>>THERE ARE ASPECTS OF THE MOSES STORY THERE ARE KIND OF COMPLICATED. YOU LOOK AT JONES BEACH, WHICH IS WONDERFUL. I THINK LINCOLN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS ON THE WEST SIDE, WHERE I LIVE, I THINK THAT IS REALLY A GEM AS WELL. HE DID SOME GOOD THINGS. THE QUESTION COMES TO BE HOW TO LOOK AT IT. HE WAS RUTHLESS AND DID SOME TERRIBLE THINGS IN GETTING THESE PROJECTS BUILT. THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TOLERATED AND I HOPE THEY WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED TODAY. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN NEW YORK NOW CAN BENEFIT FROM THESE PROJECTS. HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL? SHOULD THERE BE A RESIDUAL ANGER ONCE THEY HEAR THE STORY, OR SHOULD THIS HAVE AN EFFECT ON HOW WELL THEY MIGHT ENJOY A DAY AT THE BEACH? DO THEY HAVE THESE THOUGHTS RUNNING THROUGH THEIR MIND? HOW SHOULD WE FEEL ABOUT THAT?>>I ASKED THAT QUESTION TO MY JOHN JAY STUDENTS. ASKED ABOUT THE DIFFERENT ROADS AND PARKS THAT MOSES BUILT. THEY ALL HAD POSITIVE EXPERIENCES. THEY SAID, WELL, HE GOT IT BUILT. ONCE THEY LEARNED ABOUT HOW IT WAS BUILT, WHY IT WAS BUILT AND WHO IT WAS BUILT FOR, IT CHANGES THE CONVERSATION. AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE MAN AND EACH PROJECT A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THE TWO. THE REASON HE BUILT SO MUCH IS EXACTLY — THAT’S WHY WE HAVE CHECKS AND BALANCES. IT’S NOT SUPPOSED WORK THAT WAY. WE CAN’T CELEBRATE A MAN WHO WENT OUTSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, BECAUSE WHAT ARE WE SAYING ABOUT THE VALUES OF THE DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM?>>IT SHOULDN’T TAINT OUR ENJOYMENT OF SOME OF THESE FACILITIES.>>IT SHOULDN’T TAINT YOUR ENJOYMENT. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO ENJOY IT, BUT UNDERSTAND THE FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS AND ITS CREATION AND THE MAN WHO CREATED IT, SO IT DOESN’T HAPPEN AGAIN.>>WE TALKED ABOUT THE TREMENDOUS POWER HE WAS ABLE TO ACCUMULATE. WHAT CAUSED HIS DOWNFALL? HOW DID MOSES LOSE THIS POWER?>>A COUPLE OF THINGS. ONE OF THEM WAS AFTER 44 YEARS THERE WAS A BIT OF FATIGUE. [LAUGHTER]>>IMAGINE ONE PERSON IN SUCH POWER FOR 44 YEARS. THE CARO BOOK IS THE BIBLE. A MILLION WORDS IN THE BOOK. NOT ONCE DOES IT MENTION THE NAME OF JANE JACOBS. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO RUN A COUNTER STORY TO THE MOSES STORY. AND WHO START REBELLING AGAINST THIS TWISTED VERSION OF URBAN PLANNING. ROBERT MOSES WANTED TO BUILD A HIGHWAY ACROSS LOWER MANHATTAN THROUGH SOHO AND WANTED TO BUILD A HIGHWAY THROUGH MIDTOWN MANHATTAN. IN ONE CASE THROUGH THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.>>CAN YOU IMAGINE THIS MIDTOWN HIGHWAY — THE PLAN WAS FOR IT TO SLICE THROUGH THE SIXTH OR SEVENTH FLOOR OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, WHICH I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW THAT’S POSSIBLE. WE ARE FORTUNATE THAT NEVER GOT BUILT.>>AND THE ONE UPTOWN, TOO.>>ALL OF THESE WOULD HAVE BEEN ELEVATED.>>THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. IT WAS JANE JACOBS AND OTHER VISIONARIES WHO FOUGHT AGAINST IT. THEY MAKE 5TH AVENUE RUN THROUGH WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, BASICALLY DIVIDE THE PARK AND HAVE A ROAD RUNNING THROUGH IT. HE STARTS TO LOSE THESE BATTLES. SOME OF THE SHINE DOES START TO COME OFF.>>THEY START TO GET A LOT OF PUBLICITY. FOR DECADES, MORE OR LESS BEHIND THE SCENES. THE PUBLIC DIDN’T KNOW WHO THIS GUY WAS BECAUSE HE WASN’T AN ELECTED OFFICIAL.>>THERE ALSO WASN’T THE REPORTING IN THE PRESS. MOST OF THE PRESS GLORIFIED THE WORK HE HAD DONE.>>THE MASTER BUILDER.>>ABSOLUTELY. HE WAS VERY GOOD AT CREATING THAT NARRATIVE AND USING THE PRESS FOR HIS OWN PURPOSES.>>HE ALSO RAN INTO TROUBLE AT CENTRAL PARK WITH THE TAVERN ON THE GREEN CONTROVERSY.>>THERE WERE SOME TREES THERE. AMAZINGLY, THIS WAS TOWARD THE END OF HIS TIME. THE LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD FOUGHT THE REMOVAL OF TREES HE WANTED TO KNOCK DOWN.>>AN AREA WHERE MOTHERS USED TO BRING THEIR KIDS TO PLAY AND HE WANTED TO TURN IT INTO A PARKING LOT.>>AT THIS POINT YOU ARE HAVING ALL OF THESE INFLUENCES. YOU’RE HAVING MORE PEOPLE AWARE, THE JANE JACOBS OF THE WORLD ARE NOW ORGANIZING, WE ARE NOW IN THE 1960s WHERE POLITICAL ORGANIZING IS NOW A THING, IT WASN’T IN THE ’50s OR THE ’40s. NOW YOU ALSO HAVE AN OPPORTUNISTIC GOVERNOR, GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER WHO CREATES THE MTA A STATE AGENCY –>>AND WOULD NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY ROBERT MOSES.>>HE WOULD NOT BE INTIMIDATED. HE USES THE STATE POWER TO CONSOLIDATE THE MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM WHICH SHOULD BE RUN BY THE CITY. IT’S NOT RUN BY THE STATE. MTA, CREATED IN MARCH 1, 1968, ROBERT MOSES’ LAST DAY IN POWER. HE GOES ON TO RUN THE WORLD’S –>>HIS LAST GAS.>>WE HAD NO MONEY. WHEN WE THINK ABOUT CORRUPTION, WE THINK ABOUT FINANCIAL CORRUPTION. WE DON’T THINK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF POWER. WITH THE MOSES STORY WE TALK ABOUT CORRUPTION AND THE CURRENCY OF THAT CORRUPTION IS POWER ITSELF.>>HE WAS IN IT FOR THE POWER AND WASN’T IN IT FOR THE MONEY.>>NO, BUT HE HAD A BOAT AND A LIFESTYLE SUPPORTED BY TRIBOROUGH. PERSONALLY, HE WASN’T ENRICHING HIMSELF.>>THIS HAS BEEN FASCINATING. WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING IN.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.>>WE WILL BE BACK IN A MOMENT WITH A FINAL WORD. [MUSIC] >>HERE IS THE RECENT WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE ON WHAT SHOULD BE THE BIGGEST STORY OF OUR TIME. CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY CAUSING STAGGERING IMPACTS ON THE OCEANS AND ICE-FILLED REGIONS THAT ENCOMPASS 80% OF THE EARTH, AND FUTURE DAMAGE FROM RISING SEAS AND MELTING GLACIERS IS NOW ALL BUT CERTAIN, ACCORDING TO A SOBERING NEW REPORT FROM THE UNITED NATIONS. THE ARTICLE GOES ON TO SAY THAT THE WARMING CLIMATE IS ALREADY KILLING CORAL REEFS, SUPERCHARGING MONSTER STORMS, AND FUELING RECORD LOSSES OF SEA ICE. WHAT STRUCK ME WAS THAT THIS ARTICLE, AND MANY OTHERS DETAILING THE TERRIBLE DAMAGE BEING DONE TO LIFE AS WE’VE KNOWN IT ON THIS PLANET, HAVE NOT GENERATED ANYTHING LIKE THE KIND OF WIDESPREAD ALARM AND THE URGENT RESPONSES THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE. 17 OF THE 18 WARMEST YEARS ON RECORD HAVE OCCURRED SINCE 2000. THE WARMING AND RISING OF THE OCEANS IS ACCELERATING. THIS PAST SUMMER, ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES WERE RECORDED IN MANY PARTS OF EUROPE. THE TEMPERATURE REACHED 108.6 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT IN PARIS. PARIS! AND YET, DESPITE A STEADY STREAM OF HORRENDOUS FACTS, MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE REST OF THE WORLD HAVE REACTED TO THE PERILS OF GLOBAL WARMING WITH A COLLECTIVE HO HUM. BUT THERE IS AN ENCOURAGING SIGN AMID ALL THIS GLOOM. A WORLDWIDE PROTEST, LED BY YOUNG PEOPLE, RESULTED IN A TREMENDOUS TURNOUT AIMED AT RAISING THE ALARM ABOUT THIS EXTREME CRISIS. CHILDREN BY THE TENS OF THOUSANDS PLAYED HOOKY FROM SCHOOL AND DEMONSTRATED IN THE STREETS, DEMANDING THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD BEGIN TAKING THIS MATTER SERIOUSLY. NPR QUOTED A 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL FROM PAKISTAN WHO SAID IT’S MAD THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE BRINGING CHANGE TO THE WORLD ARE NOT. THE OLD PEOPLE WHO HAVE POWER ARE NOT USING THEIR POWER, AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE IT CAN ONLY SPEAK UP. THE CHILDREN WHO HAVE THE MOST AT STAKE IN THIS SIMMERING ERA, SEEM TO GET IT. THAT’S ALL TO THE GOOD. BUT WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH THE REST OF US? THAT’S ALL FOR NOW. SEE YOU NEXT TIME. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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