Birthday: December 18, 1888
Died At Age: 92
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Born Country: United States
Born in: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Famous as: Public Official
Spouse/Ex-: Mary Alicia Grady (m. 1966), Mary Sims (m. 1915)
father: Emanuel Moses
mother: Bella Moses
siblings: Paul Moses
children: Barbara, Jane
Died on: July 29, 1981
place of death: West Islip, New York, United States
Cause of Death: Cardiovascular Disease
Ancestry: German Americans
education: Oxford University, Wadham College, Columbia University, Dwight School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, yale university
Who was Robert Moses?
Robert Moses was an American public official who was popularly referred to as the ‘Master Builder’ by the media and public for his revolutionary construction work in the New York metropolitan area. Moses was never elected to any public office but worked in public service for the state after joining the New York City’s bureau of municipal research. Moses studied political science at Yale, Oxford, and Columbia Universities. Despite not have any degrees in engineering, architecture, or planning, Moses revolutionized the urban planning in the city of New York and inspired many other states to plan in a similar fashion. As the head of the state park commissions of New York and Long Island, Moses changed the face of New York with his urban planning. He was the main person behind the proposed parkway system in New York. He planned a total of 12 bridges, numerous parks across the state, and emphasized on building highways rather than just focusing on public transport. Robert Moses built a network of 35 highways apart from planning the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Shea Stadium. He earned a great deal of respect from the media and the public for his reformation of the urban society but failed to win the election for the post of governor of New York in 1934, the only time he contested for a public post. Despite his revolutionary works, Moses was also criticized by many for his methods and priorities. He was criticized for allegedly neglecting and somewhat restricting the colored population of the states as well as the poor and the lower-middle class.
Childhood & Early Life
Robert Moses was born on December 18, 1888, in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents Bella Silverman and Emanuel Moses were German Jews. He had a brother named Paul.
Given that his father was a real estate speculator in New Haven, it is not surprising that Moses found himself interested in urban planning and development. The family moved out of New York City when Moses and his brother were very young. Both the siblings attended multiple schools as boys.
Robert Moses graduated from the Yale University with a degree in political science. He also earned a bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree in jurisprudence from the Wadham College in Oxford. Later, he completed his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and decided to get involved in public service.
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Robert Moses wrote a proposal to reform the New York state government in the late 1910s. The proposal didn’t go far but it did catch a lot of attention. His name was mentioned to Governor Alfred Emanuel Smith who appointed him as the secretary of state in 1927. This was the first time Moses became a part of the public office even though he was appointed and not elected.
Smith’s influence and political power helped Moses work on his ideas and establish the Long Island State Park Commission as well as the State Council of Parks. He also took charge of numerous other commissions, including Jones Beach State Park, Bethpage State Park Authority, and Emergency Public Works Commission, and Jones Beach Parkway Authority.
Moses took charge of the Long Island State Park Commission (as president) and New York State Council of Parks (as chairman) between 1924 and 1963.
Shortly after Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the president in 1933, Moses took advantage of the economic influx. With his political influence, Moses managed to get numerous projects sanctioned which were ready to start as soon as the finances were made available.
Robert Moses became the Commissioner of New York City Department of Parks in 1934. This was one of Moses’ major roles in his long career. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Moses commissioned a project which built ten enormous swimming pools, with each of them having the capacity to accommodate over 6000 swimmers.
With this project, Moses attracted a lot of criticism. According to a few people, Moses tried to keep the African-American swimmers away, something he had a bad reputation for. Moses is alleged to have kept the temperature of the water low as he believed colored people didn’t like cold water.
Moses built many bridges, including his most popular work the Triborough Bridge which connected Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. He then worked on the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel which connected Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan.
Robert Moses also supervised the construction of 28,000 apartment units in New York City. This didn’t come easy to him or the city as he destroyed many old apartments to build his high-rises.
Robert Moses played a major role in New York’s urban planning and his parkways are counted amongst his best works. His Long Island parkway projects include the Southern State Parkway, the Wantagh State Parkway, the Northern State Parkway, as well as the Taconic State Parkway which is the longest parkway in the U.S. state of New York. He also commissioned the Meadowbrook State Parkway.
The public didn’t like the way Moses replaced tenement slums with high-rise towers. He also didn’t sanction the request of Walter O’Malley to build a new stadium for his club which forced one of Brooklyn’s most celebrated baseball teams to leave the city.
Moses was regularly criticized for using his political influence to control the public office bearers. He was also criticized for his racism towards the African-Americans.
He was accused of neglecting the poor and the middle class in his urban planning. Many thought his plans were intentionally put together to keep the economically weaker sections away from the modernized city.
Family & Personal Life
Robert Moses was married twice in his life. His first marriage with Mary Sims lasted for about five decades, from 1915 to 1966, until her death. He had two children, daughters Barbara and Jane, with Mary.
After the death of his first wife, Moses married Mary Alicia Grady.
He loved swimming and spent his later years attending his health club programs.
On July 29, 1981, Moses died of heart disease, at the age of 92.
Robert Moses didn’t have a driving license despite being the architect of the modern highways!