We Live in a Motorized Civilization: Robert Moses Replies to Robert Caro

Cite as: Boeing, G. 2017. “We Live in a Motorized Civilization: Robert Moses Replies to Robert Caro.” Working paper. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2934079

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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 transformed the urban fabric and transportation system of New York in a profound way, 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 polarizing figures in city planning history. On August 26, 1974, Moses issued a 23-page typed statement denouncing Caro’s work as “full of mistakes, unsupported charges, nasty baseless personalities, and random haymakers.” The statement went on to gainsay several of Caro’s assertions one at a time. Robert Moses’s typewritten response survives today as a grainy photocopy from 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 transcription errors.