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Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York Paperback – September 17, 2008


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Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York + The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York + The Death and Life of Great American Cities
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393732436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393732436
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 10.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[E]xcellent.” (Howard Kissel - New York Daily News)

“[W]atershed reexamination.” (Library Journal)

“[E]xcellent book of essays.” (Wall Street Journal)

“[A] wonderfully insightful new book.” (The New York Times, The City Weekly Desk)

About the Author

Hilary Ballon is an architectural historian and professor at Columbia University. She is the curator of “Robert Moses and the Modern City,” the 2007 exhibition concurrently at the Queens Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery of Columbia University. She is the editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her previous books include New York’s Pennsylvania Stations; The Paris of Henri IV: Architecture and Urbanism, which won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award for the Most Distinguished Scholarship in the History of Architecture; and Louis Le Vau: Mazarin’s Collège, Colbert’s Revenge, which received a medal from the Académie Française.

Kenneth T. Jackson is the Jacques Barzun Professor of History at Columbia University and a former president of the Urban History Association, the Society of American Historians, the Organization of American Historians, and the New-York Historical Society. His many books include Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States; The Encyclopedia of New York City; Empire City: New York Through the Centuries; and The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915–1930. In addition to the Francis Parkman and Bancroft Prizes and four honorary degrees, he is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2001 he served as New York State Scholar of the Year. His famous all-night bicycle ride through the city has been an annual event at Columbia since 1975.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Richard Murdocco on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Power Broker (another prominent work on Moses) is a product of the 1970s pessimism concerning the death of the city, saying that Moses helped bring about the downfall experienced in 1974 when the book was published. In Ballon's book, we have the experience that 30 years of hindsight provides, and the tone is radically different Ballon and other essayists provide a more modern insight to Moses and his achievements. Do not be fooled, this is not a coffee table book, but almost a text book for urban planners on the practices employed by Moses. The book was inspired by the museum exhibits going on currently in New York City concerning Moses and his works, and is an excellent supplement to them. If you are interested in NYC, public works, or Urban History- this is a must buy, and will become more important as time wears on.

I also recommend The Power Broker and Moses' own book Public Works: A Dangerous Trade
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J-Man on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, the essays are a bit of a drudge, but the book itself is definitive, and as a life long NY City resident I must admit - absolutely dazzling. Its less about Robert Moses, more about his hand over projects that involved countless talented Americans. Learn about highways never built, public parks on the grandest of scales, and how to clear a city slum via Title 1. You thought you knew NY City, and perhaps were even sure Manhattan was all you would ever need to know. This book shows the sophisticated development of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx, as well as their more popular and over crowded, smaller brother. Simply amazing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pierre Gauthier on July 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book provides much information regarding the projects completed under Robert Moses' leadership.

Recent photographs illustrate eloquently how many of these works have aged well and are still assets to New York City.

The various thematic sections however are written by different authors and are not of equal interest. Tighter editing would have made for a truly great book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I received a used copy {in excellent condition} and tore thru it immeadiately. The pictures showing the panorama of Commissioner Mose's accomplishments were stunning. The roads, bridges, giant swimming pools and other building projects completed {and not completed} are examined in detail in how they were funded/ built and the subsequent history - all excellently presented. But this is not a "coffee table book of pictures - its narrative is crisply written, informative and does a good job in contrasting its 2012- 2014 positive revisonist views of Robert Moses {which I am totally in agreement with} "vis a vie" Robert Caro's now debatable views of Mr Moses that he wrote about so eloquently 40 + years ago - chronicling a much different era of N.Y.C. viewpoint from Mr.Caro's 1968-74 economic, social and political perspectives/information when he researched and wrote his book..

That chapter - Robert Moses and the Rise of New York "The Power Broker in Perspective"is an excellent overview on this controversial issue. New York City in 2014 is a still in a world class city. Why ? This book reveals a more positive view of the greatness of Robert Moses's accomplishments based on the 2014 lens/vision which are still the 21st century backbone of the N.Y.C. five [5] boro's and metropolitian area. Without what Commissioner Moses envisioned, planned and built between 1924 and 1968 - parks, roads, beaches, bridges, tunnels, highways, housing and other infra structure - N.Y.C. would not have the basic infrastructure in 2014 needed to continue to be a viable city in the 21st century.

To a some extent this book debunks R. Caro's theories that Commissioner Moses was an all powerfull "steamroller" effortlessly flattening everything in his path.
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By kelley page on February 26, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent understanding of what Robert Moses really meant to New York. So many beautifiul projects that he completed. New York is so much better because of Robert Moses
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By petey6125 on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book knowing a bit about Robert Moses, but this book completed the picture of this very intelligent, driven and complex man. I felt it was not overly harsh or praising in it's assessment of him, but in the end I walked away with an incredible appreciation for all that he did. I had never realized how much he had accomplished over the course of his career. Perhaps it was the nature of those times, his arrogance or power he usurped, but in NYC today it would take 20 years to get just one of his projects done. And it would not possess the quality of design or craftsmanship his projects have.

...and as for the mid manhattan expressway that he proposed, but never built because of community opposition... I guarantee if it was built people would be saying now "imagine if they didn't let Robert Moses built this how awful it would be to get around town!"
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Deason on March 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Now this man had POWER. It is amazing how much control he had over the building of infastructure in NYC, he was the first and last word. He was like a 20th century Baron Hausemann. This book is well written and scholarly and frankly just fascinating. I saw a documentary on Robert Moses one time and was just blown away at his hubris and power. His reign over NYC spanned several powerful mayors and to this day no person has ever had so much power of the cities infrastructure. Great book, highly recommended.
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