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To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses, the father To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses, the father of many of New York’s most monumental development projects, saw things differently: neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village were badly in need of “urban renewal.” Notorious for exacting enormous human costs, Moses’s plans had never before been halted–not by governors, mayors, or FDR himself, and certainly not by a housewife from Scranton. The epic rivalry of Jacobs and Moses, played out amid the struggle for the soul of a city, is one of the most dramatic and consequential in modern American history. In Wrestling with Moses, acclaimed reporter and urban planning policy expert Anthony Flint recounts this thrilling David-and-Goliath story, the legacy of which echoes through our society today. The first ordinary citizens to stand up to government plans for their city, Jacobs and her colleagues began a nationwide movement to reclaim cities for the benefit of their residents. Time and again, Jacobs marshaled popular support and political power against Moses, whether to block traffic through her beloved Washington Square Park or to prevent the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a ten-lane elevated superhighway that would have destroyed centuries-old streetscapes and displaced thousands of families and businesses. Like A Civil Action before it, Wrestling with Moses is the tale of a local battle with far-ranging significance. By confronting Moses and his vision, Jacobs forever changed the way Americans understood the city, and inspired citizens across the country to protest destructive projects in their own communities. Her story reminds us of the power we have as individuals to confront and defy reckless authority.


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To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses, the father To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses, the father of many of New York’s most monumental development projects, saw things differently: neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village were badly in need of “urban renewal.” Notorious for exacting enormous human costs, Moses’s plans had never before been halted–not by governors, mayors, or FDR himself, and certainly not by a housewife from Scranton. The epic rivalry of Jacobs and Moses, played out amid the struggle for the soul of a city, is one of the most dramatic and consequential in modern American history. In Wrestling with Moses, acclaimed reporter and urban planning policy expert Anthony Flint recounts this thrilling David-and-Goliath story, the legacy of which echoes through our society today. The first ordinary citizens to stand up to government plans for their city, Jacobs and her colleagues began a nationwide movement to reclaim cities for the benefit of their residents. Time and again, Jacobs marshaled popular support and political power against Moses, whether to block traffic through her beloved Washington Square Park or to prevent the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a ten-lane elevated superhighway that would have destroyed centuries-old streetscapes and displaced thousands of families and businesses. Like A Civil Action before it, Wrestling with Moses is the tale of a local battle with far-ranging significance. By confronting Moses and his vision, Jacobs forever changed the way Americans understood the city, and inspired citizens across the country to protest destructive projects in their own communities. Her story reminds us of the power we have as individuals to confront and defy reckless authority.

30 review for Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City

  1. 4 out of 5

    ENYC

    I read this book after reading The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s book about Robert Moses, because the Caro book gave short shrift to a couple of Moses projects that did not come to fruition but which I was interested in: the construction of an elevated superhighway across Manhattan to connect the Lincoln Tunnel to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the extension of Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Park and then the linking of the new lower Fifth Avenue to another crosstown elevated superhighway, I read this book after reading The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s book about Robert Moses, because the Caro book gave short shrift to a couple of Moses projects that did not come to fruition but which I was interested in: the construction of an elevated superhighway across Manhattan to connect the Lincoln Tunnel to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the extension of Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Park and then the linking of the new lower Fifth Avenue to another crosstown elevated superhighway, this one running from the Holland Tunnel to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Wrestling with Moses covered those projects in detail, so served its purpose. It certainly should not, however, be read in substitution for The Power Broker and Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of American Cities.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I loved this book. I was a huge fan of Jane Jacobs from reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in or enjoys city life. When I read The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York I expected Jane Jacobs to make an extensive appearance and was disappointed to find that she never even showed up once. (That's right, my main complaint with the 1344 page biography is its lack of detail in one area. Apparently Robert Caro origi I loved this book. I was a huge fan of Jane Jacobs from reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in or enjoys city life. When I read The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York I expected Jane Jacobs to make an extensive appearance and was disappointed to find that she never even showed up once. (That's right, my main complaint with the 1344 page biography is its lack of detail in one area. Apparently Robert Caro originally gave her her own chapter but the first draft was over 2000 pages and he had to cut it down to make it publishable.) So I'm really glad that this book popped up to fill that void. It's a fascinating fact that no New York mayor, or even FDR while president, was able to take down Moses, and yet he was defeated by a dedicated group of community activists. You could easily read the book knowing little about Jacobs or Moses because Flint includes background on each, but he keeps it short enough that it doesn't drag if you already know their stories. Finally, I really enjoyed the end where he summarized the the changing legacies of both figures and even the evolving appreciation of The Power Broker itself. The story of Jacobs' fight with Moses is important to understanding New York history but what is amazing is how much it still explains daily life in NYC in 2013.

  3. 5 out of 5

    DJ Yossarian

    Having read Death and Life of Great American Cities about 20 years ago, I found this book about its author and the causes she championed to be enthralling, even-handed, and well-written. Flint doesn't demonize Robert Moses, and gives him due credit for the parks, beach facilities, and bridges he built. The author also demonstrates that, although Moses was extraordinary in both his maniacal work ethic and the amount of power he amassed, his approach to how cities should be revitalized was very mu Having read Death and Life of Great American Cities about 20 years ago, I found this book about its author and the causes she championed to be enthralling, even-handed, and well-written. Flint doesn't demonize Robert Moses, and gives him due credit for the parks, beach facilities, and bridges he built. The author also demonstrates that, although Moses was extraordinary in both his maniacal work ethic and the amount of power he amassed, his approach to how cities should be revitalized was very much in keeping with what was happening in other parts of the country during the period (Boston's Southeast Expressway is a good example). Knowing this context makes Jacobs and her fellow activists seem all the more prescient -- had she not opposed Moses' several plans to oblterate great swaths of lower Manhattan to build highways, the city would have suffered gravely. She understood long before most that cities are for people -- all sorts of people -- and not for cars. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in how cities work, how politics in cities works, or who just wants to learn more about a remarkable woman who took on city hall and won.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    If you've never heard of this story and want to learn more about NYC planning in the 1960s (related topics: Urban Renewal, participatory planning and activism, gentrification, affordable housing), I recommend it! If you know anything about it, you probably don't need to read it (I stopped at like the last chapter). If you've never heard of this story and want to learn more about NYC planning in the 1960s (related topics: Urban Renewal, participatory planning and activism, gentrification, affordable housing), I recommend it! If you know anything about it, you probably don't need to read it (I stopped at like the last chapter).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Doyle

    An incredibly engaging, succinct chronicle of the decades-long battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses--and by extension, the mid-20th century status quo of the urban planning profession. Backstory: the moment I finished reading Roberts' seminal "Death and Life of Great American Cities" at the age of 19, I began researching planning graduate programs even before I started college and an undergraduate. Her ideas had that profound an effect on my and my education and eventual career. This is t An incredibly engaging, succinct chronicle of the decades-long battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses--and by extension, the mid-20th century status quo of the urban planning profession. Backstory: the moment I finished reading Roberts' seminal "Death and Life of Great American Cities" at the age of 19, I began researching planning graduate programs even before I started college and an undergraduate. Her ideas had that profound an effect on my and my education and eventual career. This is the *best* book on Jacobs I have ever read, and pulls together/fills in a lot of blanks about her life that I've never seen before in one place. Likely that's because she never authorized a biography while she was alive, and this book is as much a biography (and a really good one) as it is an essay on her planning battles. I read it in a day and it makes me want to go right back and read Death and Life again. It also made me feel really depressed about how entrenched political (and really, development community) corruption really is in my NYC hometown. I bought this book a few months ago with another book on Jacobs and Moses that came out around the same time--Roberta Brandes Gratz's "The Battle for Gotham." It took forever to get to the Flint book because I could never make it through the Gratz book. (Still haven't.) Years ago I enjoyed Gratz's "The Living City" (the book that coined the term "urban husbandry.") But I forgot how hard that book was to get through. So is Battle for Gotham. Like Roberts, Gratz was also raised in Greenwich Village, and her book is as much an autobiography as a book about Roberts v. Moses. That's fine, but like Living City, Gratz is all (to the point of OMGWTF all) about detailed, often interminable set-up. I tried getting past the introduction and first chapter for weeks and eventually gave up. The Flint book, when I finally opened it this week, is the opposite. It's full of detail and yet very readable. I wish I had started with this book first.

  6. 5 out of 5

    penny shima glanz

    Over a decade ago I had the pleasure of taking Professor Kenneth Jackson's great course "History of the City of New York" at Columbia. As a Computer Science undergrad I was a bit scared to take the course, my required reading was generally much different in scale and scope from history courses. I emailed the professor that summer and asked what texts might be included, hoping to both get a head start and to pick up used copies. I received a kind reply and two books listed were The Power Broker a Over a decade ago I had the pleasure of taking Professor Kenneth Jackson's great course "History of the City of New York" at Columbia. As a Computer Science undergrad I was a bit scared to take the course, my required reading was generally much different in scale and scope from history courses. I emailed the professor that summer and asked what texts might be included, hoping to both get a head start and to pick up used copies. I received a kind reply and two books listed were The Power Broker and The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I went down to Strand Books and picked them up and read them before the term started. They shaped my understanding of the course and my view of cities, both my own and others I've visited. A different reader read Wrestling with Moses last week than that nervous undergrad all those years ago. I've now spent time living, both in New York and as an adult. I've traveled more. I recently moved from Brooklyn to Westchester. In the decade that's passed I've not yet reread either seminal book, despite a long desire to do so. However, I found Flint's work lacking. I found the surface merely scratched for both Moses' and Jacobs' influence on cities, urban planning, and activism. The organization of the material felt more of a side by side clean comparison than of a wrestling match. While apparently some aspects of Caro's lengthy work has recently been called into question for the harsh picture it paints, I still recommend The Power Broker and of course The Death and Life of Great American Cities for a clearer understanding of Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs, and the City of New York.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Jedeikin

    Compelling yarn about how Jane Jacobs, a Greenwich Village writer and mom, took on one of New York's most influential urban-planning power brokers and won. Told from a an earnest-yet-accessible angle (I think the author himself called it "beach-reading for urban planners") it manages to draw both Jacobs and Moses with depth and nuance -- even going so far, at the end of the book, as to show that the pendulum may have swung a bit too far in Jacobs's direction of late: When latter-day "neighborhoo Compelling yarn about how Jane Jacobs, a Greenwich Village writer and mom, took on one of New York's most influential urban-planning power brokers and won. Told from a an earnest-yet-accessible angle (I think the author himself called it "beach-reading for urban planners") it manages to draw both Jacobs and Moses with depth and nuance -- even going so far, at the end of the book, as to show that the pendulum may have swung a bit too far in Jacobs's direction of late: When latter-day "neighborhood activists" who fancy themselves heirs to Jacobs begin demanding that absolutely no development occur in a city and the place should become "museumified" or trapped in amber, then we begin sort-of pining for the "get it done" mojo of Robert Moses. Overall, this is an artful narrative rendering of what's likely the biggest seismic shift in city-planning since the invention of the skyscraper and the subway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    The Power Broker was required reading in the NYS Politics class I took at Stony Brook University as an undergraduate. This is a much shorter book than Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize winning tome, but it does pack a punch, as it chronicles the careers of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Jacobs, who'd clash over development issues in Lower Manhattan. It serves as a comprehensive introduction to both Moses and Jacobs, and is surprisingly even handed in its treatment of both. Caro's book has made Moses such an infa The Power Broker was required reading in the NYS Politics class I took at Stony Brook University as an undergraduate. This is a much shorter book than Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize winning tome, but it does pack a punch, as it chronicles the careers of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Jacobs, who'd clash over development issues in Lower Manhattan. It serves as a comprehensive introduction to both Moses and Jacobs, and is surprisingly even handed in its treatment of both. Caro's book has made Moses such an infamously easy target for scorn, one who stands in poor light to contemporary sensibilities. Jacobs's philosophy aged well, while Moses's will to power has not. The author avoids the cheap shots, and in doing so, presents a book which is worthwhile to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Interesting book about NYC, urban planning, and of course, Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. I didn't know any of this history previously, but now am considering reading both Jane Jacobs' books and the Robert Caro biography of Robert Moses. Interesting book about NYC, urban planning, and of course, Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. I didn't know any of this history previously, but now am considering reading both Jane Jacobs' books and the Robert Caro biography of Robert Moses.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    The title and subtitle of Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City are rather misleading, as the combat is not as direct as suggested, in large part because Jacobs considered Moses too small a force for her to be specifically concerned with—dealing instead with larger abstractions of theory as represented by projects of his—whereas Moses couldn’t be bothered with anyone’s concerns at all. In a way, Anthony Flint doesn’t seem direct The title and subtitle of Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City are rather misleading, as the combat is not as direct as suggested, in large part because Jacobs considered Moses too small a force for her to be specifically concerned with—dealing instead with larger abstractions of theory as represented by projects of his—whereas Moses couldn’t be bothered with anyone’s concerns at all. In a way, Anthony Flint doesn’t seem directly engaged with them, either; the two ostensible principals seem more symbols of old and new meeting at an inflection point in urban planning, transportation planning, and housing planning, and even so, Flint doesn’t do much to elucidate either movement, let alone the two people used as symbols thereof. In between focusing on three primary projects regarding which Jacobs and Moses were opposed (two of which are described in the acknowledgments as having ben identified by a fellow scholar as “particular turning points,” but which never feel like such here, perhaps because the book’s narrow focus on these turning points alone offers no context in which for them to exist as such), Flint does provide incidental biographies of each party, but if anything, Wrestling with Moses engages more with the books—Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro’s The Power Broker—that respectively exemplify Jacobs and Moses than with the individuals themselves. While he acknowledges Death and Life on the first page of his introduction, it takes him until page 142 to acknowledge The Power Broker, and for attribution, at a point long after so much direct lifting on information that I had assumed attribution was not forthcoming. (The Power Broker is first brought to mind even long before much of the extensive use of material therefrom, when at the end of the introduction, Flint mentions Jacobs’s influence in stalling a Moses project for seven years, which went curiously unmentioned in the entirety of that book.) In some ways, the single insurmountable frustration that disrupted the completion of Moses’s supposed vision provides the happy moment of victory that I kept hoping for in The Power Broker but was largely denied until nearly the very end, although that effect is undercut somewhat by the circumstances’ giving Moses an eternal out to say that he was not given a full chance to succeed, a laughable claim given the power accorded him. Flint’s almost desperate attempts to temper the apparent goodness of Jacobs and evil of Moses are presumably to allow the two to meet on more common ground (despite this, the pairing can only come off as David vs. Goliath). Sometimes this requires him to make arguments on Moses’ behalf that lack credulity, and it can be unclear in such cases if he is making the argument or suggesting that Moses would; he also sometimes seems to adopt Moses talking point rather than a realistic view of the realities of a situation, and while it’s one thing if he is meaning to replicate the nature of the dialogue that was occurring, it’s not clear that that’s his aim. This strenuous “even-handedness” (really deck-stacking in order to allow the artificial balance of imbalanced ideologies) would read as sophistic if not for the fact that Flint doesn’t even seem convinced by his own arguments, making it hard to feel as if he means for his audience to be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    CTEP

    For May’s book club I read Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City, by Anthony Flint.It was recommended to me by the head of my planning program for the fall amongst several other works, but they’re also very relevant to my current service as I continue to explore understanding of the nature of urban community as I see it in my everyday service. The book is a history of the conflicts between Robert Moses, an urban planning bureaucr For May’s book club I read Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City, by Anthony Flint.It was recommended to me by the head of my planning program for the fall amongst several other works, but they’re also very relevant to my current service as I continue to explore understanding of the nature of urban community as I see it in my everyday service. The book is a history of the conflicts between Robert Moses, an urban planning bureaucrat, and Jane Jacobs, a local activist and defender against urban renewal. While the author doesn’t overtly talk much about how issues of housing discrimination factor into the stories, for anyone interested in the history of housing and development this book presents a strong view of the problematic origins of 20th century development. Flint begins by relating the histories of both Jacobs and Moses, who come from very different worlds, one an oxford educated bureaucrat and the other a mother eschewing the credentialing of formal education. Jacobs and Moses encounter each other earlier through a fight over the redevelopment plans for Washington Square in NYC, a historied and eclectic park that Jacobs ultimately protects from the reaching arm of Moses. Jacobs fights then to protect hers and other neighborhoods from other development projects labeled under the justification of “urban renewal.” Moses and other planners of the time followed a modernist consideration of planning that held areas should be separated by discrete uses. He and others imagined a perfectly organized and understandable city, organized in a manner like you might imagine envisioned in World’s Fairs, Disneyworld’s Epcot center, etc. Jacobs, a student of the city through experience, saw that such ideas led only to desolate and negative places, neglected buildings, rising crime, and more. In contrast, she found that infinite and organic diversity was what helped areas to thrive, and she penned these thoughts in The Death and Life of Great American Cities (next on my reading list). I see a lot of what Jacob speaks of at Waite House and in the Phillips neighborhood in general. I feel like Moses transported to today might say some of the same things about Phillips that he said about the neighborhoods in the book, that he might see the struggles of the neighborhood and declare it needs to be wiped clean in the name of Urban Renewal. I also see that Phillips holds some of the strengths that Jacobs talks about. Phillips’ diversity is a huge asset, and mixed use of residential, commercial, nonprofit, and more makes it a lively and active place capable of organization and improvement in a way Moses’ communities failed to find.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nouman Ahmad

    Read this as part of a study circle, and what a brilliant introduction to urban activism! The narrative folds dramatically and keeps you hooked. The battle between Moses and Jane is well-told and resonates with you, even if you aren't aware of NYC's geography. Along with 'The Emperor of all Maladies', this book is going to be on the list of non-fiction recommendations for beginners. Someone with even slightest interest in how cities function and what development should look like should read this Read this as part of a study circle, and what a brilliant introduction to urban activism! The narrative folds dramatically and keeps you hooked. The battle between Moses and Jane is well-told and resonates with you, even if you aren't aware of NYC's geography. Along with 'The Emperor of all Maladies', this book is going to be on the list of non-fiction recommendations for beginners. Someone with even slightest interest in how cities function and what development should look like should read this brilliant book. In context of Karachi and what has transpired here in last few years in the name of development, it has several key learnings to offer. Our idea of development is rotten and outdated and serves elite. The book mentions in several places that today's America has warmed up to the urban principles of Jane Jacobs’s, but her ideas were considered radical and ridiculous and even dangerous back in 60s. Unfortunately, for Karachi, even today, her idea of what development should look like is radical. From public to the city officials, everyone is hellbent on making Karachi a concrete jungle, riddled with high-rise buildings and pedestrian free roads and fancy shopping malls and in general, city planning revolves around facilitating traffic - all the elements which book severely criticizes. May Karachi gets its own Jane Jacob's soon and get rid of its many Robert Moses.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Tl;dr: If you've read The Power Broker, give this book a quick skim and the epilogue your close attention. If not, just go read The Power Broker and/or The Death and Life of Great American Cities. --- This is best read as a companion book to The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Without that context, it's hard to grasp what's at stake, why any of this matters, or the full picture of where New York and Robert Moses were at that time. If you HAVE read The Power Broker, it's a quic Tl;dr: If you've read The Power Broker, give this book a quick skim and the epilogue your close attention. If not, just go read The Power Broker and/or The Death and Life of Great American Cities. --- This is best read as a companion book to The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Without that context, it's hard to grasp what's at stake, why any of this matters, or the full picture of where New York and Robert Moses were at that time. If you HAVE read The Power Broker, it's a quick supplement to a piece of the Moses story that there simply wasn't room for Caro to cover in his masterpiece. The best part of this book was honestly the epilogue, where Flint provides a slightly more nuanced look at Moses' legacy. Anyone finishing The Power Broker (myself included) will be convinced Moses is the root of all evil; Flint points out, with the retrospective available to us today, that the Jacobs legacy has spawned its own problems, and that Moses - the master of actually being able to get things done - would be cheered today if he could, for example, build a glorious new public transit system, regardless of who has to be displaced in the process. This book also struggled from being unable to decide if it was a biography of Jane Jacobs, a biography of Robert Moses, or a tale of community activism. [Dewey Decimal Challenge: 711 - Area Planning - Civic Art]

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    I think this is of somewhat limited interest. It would have been much better as a magazine article (or as a chapter in "The Power Broker"!). Jane Jacobs had good ideas, countering modernism in urban redevelopment. She also perhaps started modern NIMBYism, and it is disappointing that Flint doesn't wrestle with this aspect of her legacy. Instead, Flint largely sees unattainable housing prices as a good thing, evidence that Jacobs's vision was highly desirable. Repeatedly, Flint cites the fact tha I think this is of somewhat limited interest. It would have been much better as a magazine article (or as a chapter in "The Power Broker"!). Jane Jacobs had good ideas, countering modernism in urban redevelopment. She also perhaps started modern NIMBYism, and it is disappointing that Flint doesn't wrestle with this aspect of her legacy. Instead, Flint largely sees unattainable housing prices as a good thing, evidence that Jacobs's vision was highly desirable. Repeatedly, Flint cites the fact that the Greenwich Village neighborhood is now priced for celebrities and designer boutiques as a *good thing*. "The Power Broker" gives a better portrait of Moses.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Meyers

    Having read both The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, and The Power Broker, Robert Caro's wonderful biography of Robert Moses, I found Flint's book an enjoyable review of Jacobs' efforts to stop three of Moses' proposed projects, and Moses' never ending efforts to breath new life into them. Flint's writing style is excellent, descriptive, but to the point. Short and too the point, this book offers insights and detail not available on the other books I've read. A fun read f Having read both The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, and The Power Broker, Robert Caro's wonderful biography of Robert Moses, I found Flint's book an enjoyable review of Jacobs' efforts to stop three of Moses' proposed projects, and Moses' never ending efforts to breath new life into them. Flint's writing style is excellent, descriptive, but to the point. Short and too the point, this book offers insights and detail not available on the other books I've read. A fun read for anyone with an interest in city planning and urban affairs.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I didn't read the whole book but would hate to put it in the "abandoned" category. It had moe information than I needed or wanted in backgroun of the history of Washington Square Park for exaample. Interesting that our son who read the 700 page biography that Caro wrote of Robert Moses says that Jacobs is not mentioned. She certainly was his rival over preserving NYC neighborhoods with their bodegas, shops, restaurants, etc. I didn't read the whole book but would hate to put it in the "abandoned" category. It had moe information than I needed or wanted in backgroun of the history of Washington Square Park for exaample. Interesting that our son who read the 700 page biography that Caro wrote of Robert Moses says that Jacobs is not mentioned. She certainly was his rival over preserving NYC neighborhoods with their bodegas, shops, restaurants, etc.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Blazquez

    A great introduction to Janet Jacobs, and a superb way to expand on the Moses bio by Robert Caro (if you are so inclined, and a BIG reader of urban planning). It seems to contain the key thinking behind "The Life and Death of Great American Cities" A great introduction to Janet Jacobs, and a superb way to expand on the Moses bio by Robert Caro (if you are so inclined, and a BIG reader of urban planning). It seems to contain the key thinking behind "The Life and Death of Great American Cities"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    A quick read with a compelling real-life story. A biography but focused on Jacobs' impact on protecting neighborhoods from being bulldozed and her impact on the field of urban planning. A very encouraging story on how a self-taught and dedicated woman accomplished a lot. A quick read with a compelling real-life story. A biography but focused on Jacobs' impact on protecting neighborhoods from being bulldozed and her impact on the field of urban planning. A very encouraging story on how a self-taught and dedicated woman accomplished a lot.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Leigh

    This is an ideal introduction to Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. I would recommend starting here and then leveling up to Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of American Cities or Robert Caro's The Power Broker if this background look at their tete-a-tetes was interesting to you. This is an ideal introduction to Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. I would recommend starting here and then leveling up to Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of American Cities or Robert Caro's The Power Broker if this background look at their tete-a-tetes was interesting to you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Kovach

    This was such a great overview of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses; their timelines and involvement with city preservation and city planning. It's cool to learn about both of their personal missions, how they eventually crossed paths and how their work can be seen in NY today. This was such a great overview of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses; their timelines and involvement with city preservation and city planning. It's cool to learn about both of their personal missions, how they eventually crossed paths and how their work can be seen in NY today.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    Loved this book. The right level of detail, fascinating political history.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lundy

    Great book about urban renewal.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Henn

    Great tale This is a great telling of the battles between Moses and Jacobs. The afterword is also a great ending to the tale, wrapping up the story well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A well-told narrative of the showdown between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tallant Burley

    Always a great story, but not well written.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz Bagley

    Great book. I have read books by Jacobs, but not about her. Wrestling provides a little background on both Jacobs and Moses. Power Broker on the list.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Excellent book. Great perspective. She lived at 555 Hudson Avenue

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    It is amazing how much I can continue to learn about America and about New York 7-8 years after having left the city. I knew people there who were intensely activist, and increasingly I begin to fathom this spirit of political and social activism that at first seemed so simultaneously admirable and alien. 'Wrestling with Moses' is about one of NY's most well-known (well, in the 1950-60s) urban activists, Jane Jacobs, and her work to prevent the demolition and reconstruction of parts of lower Man It is amazing how much I can continue to learn about America and about New York 7-8 years after having left the city. I knew people there who were intensely activist, and increasingly I begin to fathom this spirit of political and social activism that at first seemed so simultaneously admirable and alien. 'Wrestling with Moses' is about one of NY's most well-known (well, in the 1950-60s) urban activists, Jane Jacobs, and her work to prevent the demolition and reconstruction of parts of lower Manhattan, as pushed by powerful bureacrat and builder Robert Moses. There are five chapters here: The first two provide a short background to first Jacobs and then Moses; the third narrates their first big battle over the extension of Fifth Avenue into Washington Square Park (where Jane lived); the fourth describes how, after Moses' defeat, his method lived on in the hands of his successor bureacrats and Jacobs had to rally the community yet again; the fifth then turns to her leadership of the SoHo community in opposition to another Moses proposal, the Lower Manhattan Expressway. While written as a journalistic account of the immense odds the fragmented local families faced in protecting the organic nature of their communal neighbourhood, the book is obviously ideologically tilted to the side of Jacobs and the community. Not that this is a unattractive stance -- Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities stand for the ground-up approach to urban planning, respect for the human scale in architecture, respect for what the people who live there really want and think, for diversity, for the organic blooming of city life. Moses, on the other hand, stood for the modern approach, grand plans, glass and steel superstructures and soaring expressways, and effectively bulldozing over friendly if somewhat scruffy neighbourhoods in the name of cleaning up slums. This is fascinating on two levels: First is the implicit description of the political process in New York. I can't imagine it taking place in Asia (oddly, the only place I can imagine this is in China, for certain reasons; but surely not in Singapore or other Southeast Asian capitals): there are too many requisite elements that are simply not present here. You need an active and committed citizenry, you need a local press that is willing and able to opine on public policy, you need a localised political process with politicians willing and able to take sides (interestingly and ironically, Jacobs was welcomed more by the Republicans, who felt she stood for smaller government). The citizenry question is difficult, and I come back to demographics: too much population pressure in Asia, people don't earn enough to have time for activism, people who are wealthy enough are more interested in consumption or have entered the status quo elite and don't have the incentive for activism. And the very idea of public hearings, of raising communal opposition to public works projects already announced in the newspapers -- the whole feeling of it is so uniquely and admirably American. The second is this clash of ideas between large-scale top down government planning vs bottom up organic hustle and bustle. The question is raised in the book of how a city government can provide for the needs of low income households if it cannot seize and redevelop land for public projects -- this is certainly a valid question and not one, imo, that the Jacobs school adequately answered. And it is surely more pressing (and no better addressed) in Asia. Yet if it is not possible to dream of Asian capitals built entirely in European scale, I'd argue the top down approach to infrastructure building has also worked very imperfectly -- although possibly due to institutional issues (corruption, pork barrel projects) rather than because large scale infrastructure is bad. There is, indeed, an ambivalence in the book regarding Moses and the top-down approach -- it acknowledges his valuable contributions to, for example, the interstate highway network, the triboro bridge, as well as vastly increasing the amount of park space in NYC. The failure at heart seems less the man himself than the hubris and insensitivity that set in during his later years, after two decades of succcess, when at the height of his powers he forget to listen to the people who would live in the cities he wanted to build.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    My undergrad degree is in Urban Studies from Columbia, which means I basically majored in New York City history, Jane Jacobs, and Robert Moses. This is a book that appealed to a hardcore city nerd like me, but I'm not sure how many others would truly enjoy it. It gets REALLY into the tiny details of every community meeting and conversation and fight between Jacobs and Moses about NYC development. And if you don't know the geography and neighborhoods of NYC, half of it wouldn't even make sense. My undergrad degree is in Urban Studies from Columbia, which means I basically majored in New York City history, Jane Jacobs, and Robert Moses. This is a book that appealed to a hardcore city nerd like me, but I'm not sure how many others would truly enjoy it. It gets REALLY into the tiny details of every community meeting and conversation and fight between Jacobs and Moses about NYC development. And if you don't know the geography and neighborhoods of NYC, half of it wouldn't even make sense.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Though I grew up in New Jersey and had family in the East Village, I was not aware of Jane Jacobs' life of sacrifice and her dedication to preserving and protecting this pocket of Manhattan. I'm ashamed not to know of her contributions, and so glad to learn of them now. Born in 1916, Jane Jacobs was a funny looking woman, with a keen intelligence and the ability to articulate her ideas and organize for action. She is credited as the founder of 1960s grass roots, community activism. Robert Moses (1 Though I grew up in New Jersey and had family in the East Village, I was not aware of Jane Jacobs' life of sacrifice and her dedication to preserving and protecting this pocket of Manhattan. I'm ashamed not to know of her contributions, and so glad to learn of them now. Born in 1916, Jane Jacobs was a funny looking woman, with a keen intelligence and the ability to articulate her ideas and organize for action. She is credited as the founder of 1960s grass roots, community activism. Robert Moses (1888-1981) was a master planner and master politician, engineering the city of New York and many parts of New York state. He created parks, built roads, designed public buildings and community centers. He build the Lincoln Center and Fire Island. In building the infrastructure of New York City and its boroughs, Moses destroyed countless communities, homes and small businesses. He displaced thousands of poor as his policies and commisions razed the slums and relocated people to souless high rise apartment buildings. His methods of urban renewal spread throughout the country and were used to salavage some of the great cities of the United States. Jane Jacobs set herself in opposition to Robert Moses and all he represented. She chose Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village as the battleground, and organized the community to respond to every threat with legal action, community hearings, physical occupation and above all, the power of the media. Her landmark work, The Death and Life of American Cities was founded in the sense of place and belonging that she enjoyed in the Village, after Moses and the city of New York retreated in 1961. It wasn't long though before Moses was back with yet another plan to improve a nearby neighborhood, that included Jacobs home on Hudson Street. She and her community, beat this one back too. With the exception of mass transit, Moses advocated and constructed the infrastructure that enabled U.S. 20th century economic growth through transportation and the regeneration of failing cities. Jacobs unilateraly objected to any change not condoned by the people, and set a standard for consultation and collaboration between government and its people. Moses' approach to government and planning was the gold standard for many years until Jacobs overturned the doctrine. Today, the cycle of change and hindsight reveals that both approaches are needed for economic development and the survival of cities as human-centered communities. It's fascinating to have a more informed view of lower Manhattan and its history. Looking through my postcards of Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village, I can date them just by seeing the features that changed between 1950-1980. I have some sense now of what each change means and how this small piece of land is a monument to urban planning. Thank you to the marvelous book shop at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC where I found Anthony Flint's excellent work. Thank you Flint. Thank you Jacobs. And thank you Moses. --Ashland Mystery

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