I am selling 2 apartments on Second Avenue, and while they are really great apartments in a wonderful doorman building, one of the obstacles I have had is that they are constructing the Second Ave Subway outside the property. The Subway is a spectacular and much needed public works. Every New Yorker, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, Vegan, Sports Fan, Ludite, Undocumented Alien, Homeless, Pierced, Parent, Pet Owner, Pastry Chef, Painter, please! Please support this venture. It’s good for all of us.
It’s been going a little slow. And the later phases (the downtown parts) have not really been funded yet. One thing that is interesting is that I have been reading a very famous book called The Power Broker. It’s about Robert Moses. He, like me, had no middle initial. Mr. Moses had an amazing career. You can’t understate his accomplishments in his early career.
He came up in a time where New York City had almost 200 separate City government departments. The reason for all of these separate departments was to provide jobs for poor immigrant families, and the reason departments and jobs were needed was that this was the currency of the City’s old masters, Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was the name given for the working class political organization that put Mayor’s and, later, Governors, in power in New York. The power of an effective “Get out the vote” machine remains vital to winning an election. Ask Eric Cantor.
Well the moral and conscious, and wealthier taxpayers, thought wasting all of the city’s tax base on jobs for people basically given as bribes to ensure votes at the ballot was a pretty ruinous way to run a city. The City’s aristocracy developed something called a Good Government Movement. One of the darlings of this Movement was Bob Moses. And his first achievement was helping reform the City Government. The Mayor at that time, Alfred Smith (a Tammany chieftan) took a liking to Bob Moses.
And so Mr. Moses, in the name of doing good, cutting waste, reducing bureaucracy, was able to elevate himself, over the next 40 years, into the most powerful man in the State, and amongst the most in the Country. During the Great Depression, he was able to steer 1 in 7 of all of the Federal New Deal funds towards his own building projects (of which he controlled a no-bid awarding of construction contracts).
He was able to build an island – Roosevelt Island (used to be 2 islands, he literally built it) and put on top of it a bridge – the Triborough, and wrote the laws so that he controlled all the money that came from the tolls, and in doing so had more money available to him at any time than any politician to use to fund public works.
His successes were great and helped New Yorkers in the City and State tremendously. Every park in the City other than Central Park and Prospect Park (so parks like Marine Park, Riverside Park, and Jones Beach) were built by Moses. Many highways – the Belt, the BQE, etc… Built by Moses.
If his career’s later stages were corrupt and power hungry, his early stages were callous, bigoted and selfish, but his results were real. His philosophies were imperfect (it turns out building more roads doesn’t decrease traffic, it actually can increase the use of cars which increases traffic,) but his focus on GETTING THINGS DONE was admirable. Anyone who wants to know how the City of New York developed should read The Power Broker.