Robert Moses and New York City's Building Boom

Robert Moses and New York City's Building Boom
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Our story this week focuses on the stumbling blocks American infrastructure projects face — a system rife with bureaucratic red tape and slow-moving policy restrictions. Consider this startling statistic: It now takes four times as long to move these projects along than it did in the 1970’s. In New York, this might just be the result of, in part, the titan of the skyline, Robert Moses.

Moses began his career in New York politics, shadowing Governor Al Smith in the early 1920’s, after earning a PhD from Columbia. According to a 1974 profile of Moses in The New Yorker, Moses took readily to politics. He became “the best bill-drafter I know,”said Smith. What Smith and Moses were able to accomplish in Albany forever altered the terrain of New York state politics; they “reorganized” and consolidated many aspects of state government, offering Smith and his team a chance to implement the social reform goals of post-Depression politics. From there, Moses set his sights on urban planning.

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