Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Everything Looks Like a Screw
Surgeons like to cut.
I have always had a morbid fear of surgery. There's just something about all that cutting that bothers me. However, I do understand that surgeons like to cut and I can imagine why. As a small manufacturer, I often have to troubleshoot products and there is nothing as effective as opening something up and getting inside to really see where the problem lies. Why play with less direct solutions if the problem lends itself to a mechanical solution?
Builders like to build.
Robert Moses was New York City's master builder. He the most often cited figure in this website. This New York City planning czar had an unstoppable drive. He was never elected to public office, yet was responsible for the creation and leadership of numerous public authorities. He built bridges, tunnels, highways and shaped shorelines in New York City and environs.
One of Moses' projects which never came to fruition was the Lower Manhattan Expressway. This extremely controversial plan was to be a ten-lane elevated highway, I-78 & I-478, extending from the Hudson River to the East River, connecting the Holland Tunnel to the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. It was seen by Moses as a much needed thoroughfare to ease congestion in Manhattan providing a roadway connecting traffic from New Jersey to Brooklyn and Queens. It was conceived by Moses in 1941 but delayed until the early 1960s.
The highway plan would have required many structures to be demolished along Broome Street, passing through Little Italy and what is now known as SoHo. Community activists led by Jane Jacobs effectively thwarted the project. The effort is now seen by many as instrumental in preserving the character of lower Manhattan.
Robert Moses and his works saw much public criticism. In 1974, The Power Broker was published. From the New York Times:
He indicated no wish to change with the times, but held to his views more ardently than ever in his later years, dismissing community opposition to his vast projects by saying, as he did in a 1974 statement, ''I raise my stein to the builder who can remove ghettos without removing people as I hail the chef who can make omelets without breaking eggs.''
The statement came in a much-publicized 3,500-word rebuttal that Mr. Moses offered to a highly critical biography of him by Robert Caro published in 1974, ''The Power Broker.'' The exhaustive 1,246-page work, which won the Pulitzer Prize, was written from the perspective of the newer approach to planning and redevelopment, and it contended that Mr. Moses had callously removed residents of neighborhoods undergoing urban renewal, had destroyed the traditional fabric of urban neighborhoods in favor of a landscape of red-brick towers and throughout his career had worked somewhat outside the normal democratic process.
Surgeons like to cut, lawyers like to litigate, and builders like to build. For someone with a screwdriver, everything looks like a screw...
Photos: The upper photo is one of the supports of the Manhattan Bridge as seen from the walkway. The lower photo is a plan of the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway.
Note: It is ironic that Robert Moses, a man who favored highways over public transit, did not hold a driver's license.