A Fresh Look At Robert Moses: Three New Exhibits To Open

Three NYC exhibits at Columbia University, Museum of the City of New York, and Queens Museum of Art, will soon open featuring the works of Robert Moses that mark the first look at the City’s master builder since Robert Caro's, "The Power Broker".
February 2, 2007, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"Every generation writes its own history," said Kenneth T. Jackson, a historian of New York City at Columbia who with Columbia University architectural historian Hilary Ballon edited "Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York", the catalog accompanying the (three) exhibitions.

"It could be that ‘The Power Broker' was a reflection of its time: New York was in trouble and had been in decline for 15 years. Now, for a whole host of reasons, New York is entering a new time, a time of optimism, growth and revival that hasn't been seen in half a century. And that causes us to look at our infrastructure.", Jackson said.

Hilary Ballon believes Moses deserves a better legacy than ascribed by Robert Caro's epic biography - or at least a fresh look. In three exhibitions opening in the next few days, she "argues that too little attention has been focused on what Moses achieved, versus what he destroyed, and on the enormous bureaucratic hurdles he surmounted to get things done."

Each of the exhibitions has a different emphasis.

"Remaking the Metropolis," which opens at the Museum of the City of New York on Feb. 2, focuses on Moses' roads, like the Henry Hudson Parkway and the Cross Bronx Expressway; major buildings and monuments (Lincoln Center, the United Nations); and parks (the expansion of Riverside Park, East River Park and recreational spaces in Central Park).

Opening Feb. 4 at the Queens Museum of Art (whose forbidding stone building Moses had built for the 1939-40 World's Fair), "The Road to Recreation" documents his expansion of roads and recreation in the 1930's: some 416 miles of parkways and 658 playgrounds.

"Slum Clearance and the Superblock Solution," which opens on Jan. 31 at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, focuses on Moses' ambitious 1950s urban renewal program.

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

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Published on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 in The New York Times
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