One of the most iconic battles to decide the fate of New York City was waged, in the 1950s and ’60s, by Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. He, a Parks Commissioner turned power broker, was known for his aggressive urban renewal projects, tearing tenements down to build higher, denser housing. She, often dismissed as a housewife, emerged as his most vocal critic—not to mention a skilled organizer with the ability to stop some of Moses’ most ambitious plans.
A new documentary, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, takes a close look at the groundbreaking work of Jane Jacobs and its importance in our urbanizing world today. Matt Tyrnauer, the director behind Valentino: The Last Emperor, compiled footage of both Jacobs and Moses alongside 1950s and ’60s New York, which is paired with voiceovers of Marissa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio as the battling duo. Experts in urban planning—everyone from Paul Goldberger to Robert A.M. Stern—also discuss Jacobs’ massive influence on housing policy and urban planning, as the film makes a convincing argument that Jacobs’ planning philosophies are needed now more than ever.
Read our review of the film
- Just in time for LGBT Pride Month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is looking to designate the Stonewall Inn as a city landmark. [NYT]
- Looking back at the Theater District’s 1982 Broadway Massacre. [Ephemeral NY]
- A forthcoming, untitled opera will depict the feud between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. [NYO]
- This map uses NYPD data to show just how “mean” the streets of New York can be. [CityLab]
- Is this the ultimate beach umbrella? It digs into the sand and provides enough shelter for two beach chairs and a cooler. [Kinja Deals]
Images: Stonewall Inn (L); Robert Moses/Washington Square Park (R)
If you have even the slightest interest in architecture, urban planning, and NYC history, you know Robert Moses. Unforgettably profiled as the “Power Broker” by Robert Caro, Moses was the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York and its environs. He was a larger-than-life character who had very set ways of approaching urban design. He advocated for highways over public transportation (he built 13 expressways through NYC), dense housing towers over low-scale neighborhoods, and communities segregated by race and class over organic, mixed-demographic areas. Of course, there are plenty of much-loved aspects of the city that also came from Moses–Jones Beach, the United Nations, and ten public swimming pools like the one in McCarren Park.
Regardless of your feelings on Robert Moses, though, we can all agree that the city would not be the same without him. But a lot has changed since he lost his post as director of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in the mid 1960s and even more so since he passed away in 1981. So we can’t help but wonder what he would think of our fair city in 2015. To have a little fun, we planned a present-day tour for the ghost of Robert Moses.
See where we’d take the Power Broker here
Stuyvesant Town Oval via Marianne O’Leary via photopin cc
Any architecture history student or design nerd knows about Le Corbusier (1887-1965), one of the founders of modern architecture and a truly one-of-a-kind urban planner. For those of you who aren’t as familiar with Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris (his given name; he was French-Swiss), one of his most noteworthy urban ideas was concept of “towers in the park.” Part of his Contemporary City plan (and later Radiant City plan) to house three million inhabitants as a way to deal with overcrowding and slums, towers in the park were skyscrapers set in large, rectangular tracts of lands with open space between the buildings.
Whether they were consciously influenced by Le Corbusier or not, many projects in New York City mimic his vision of towers in the park, and we’ve decided to take a look at the most well known of this architectural crop, as well as some other ways the famous architect left his mark on NYC.
Take a look at NYC’s towers in the park