Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 July 29, 1981) was the master builder of 20th century New York City and its suburbs. As the shaper of a modern city, one of his few peers is Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and he was easily the most polarizing figure in the history of urban planning. Although he never held elective office, Moses was arguably the most powerful person in New York City government from the 1930s to the 1950s. Moses literally changed shorelines, built roadways in the sky, and transformed vibrant neighborhoods forever. His decisions favoring highways over public transport formed the modern suburbs of Long Island and influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners who spread his philosophies across the nation. Moses was not without his critics, however. These critics have pointed to many things that they say taint Moses' legacy. The most common criticisms of Moses include the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in New York City, contributing to the ruin of the South Bronx and the amusement parks of Coney Island, the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the decline of public transport. On the other hand, Moses' projects were also considered by many to be necessary for the region's development, and Moses participated in the construction of two huge World's Fairs, one in 1939 and the other in 1964. To Moses' critics, however, he will always be remembered for believing that "cities are for traffic," and "if the ends don't justify the means, what does?".
Search Quotations Book