Moses, Robert

Moses, Robert,

1888–1981, U.S. public official, b. New Haven, Conn. He was appointed (1919) by Alfred E. SmithSmith, Alfred Emanuel,
1873–1944, American political leader, b. New York City. Reared in poor surroundings, he had no formal education beyond grade school and took various jobs—including work in the Fulton fish market—to help support his family.
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 to the committee to study and revamp New York state government machinery, became (1924) chairman of the state council of parks, and served (1927–28) as New York secretary of state until a disagreement with Gov. Franklin RooseveltRoosevelt, Franklin Delano
, 1882–1945, 32d President of the United States (1933–45), b. Hyde Park, N.Y. Early Life

Through both his father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, he came of old, wealthy families.
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 forced him from that position. In 1933 he declined the Fusion nomination for mayor of New York City, and in 1934 he was, as Republican candidate for governor, defeated by Herbert H. LehmanLehman, Herbert Henry
, 1878–1963, American political leader, b. New York City. At first an executive of a textile firm, he became (1908) a partner in the family banking house of Lehman Brothers.
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. As New York City park commissioner (1934–60) and head of the Triborough Bridge and New York City Tunnel Authority (1946–68), as well as in other municipal offices, Moses was responsible for reorganizing the department of parks and for planning new and improved highways, parks, bridges, and beaches. While he has been widely praised for many of his accomplishments, he has also been criticized for tearing down established neighborhoods and replacing them with soulless towers and expressways in a quest for urban improvement. His books include Working for People (1956).


See R. A. Caro, The Power Broker (1974); H. Ballon and K. T. Jackson, Robert Moses and the Modern City (2007).

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Moses, Robert

(1889–1981) public administrator; born in New Haven, Conn. Independently wealthy (he seldom accepted any salary), he was educated at Yale, Oxford, and Columbia Universities as a political scientist. He began his government career in New York City's Bureau of Municipal Research (1913) with an attempt to reform the civil service along the lines of his graduate thesis. In 1919 he became chief of staff of New York State's reconstruction commission under Governor Al Smith, who would long be his chief sponsor. In 1924 he was appointed head of both the New York State Council of Parks and the Long Island State Park Commission; using these and numerous other positions—in particular, New York City Parks commissioner (1934–60) and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel authorities (1934–68)—he radically changed the city and its environs, creating a system of parkways to get New Yorkers to the outskirts, to Jones Beach (his pet project), and to the many state parks (which he also set up); by the end of his career he was credited with building 416 miles of parkway, 13 major bridges, and 658 playgrounds as well as setting aside over 2,000,000 acres of parkland. He did not succeed at everything; he was soundly defeated in his one bid for public office, when he ran as the Republican candidate for governor (1934); and he lost out in his efforts to stop Joseph Papp from performing Shakespeare in Central Park (1959). By the time of his last major project, the New York World's Fair (1964–68), he had fallen into disfavor with many other social thinkers and urban planners because his approach had so often involved razing entire neighborhoods and laying down tons of concrete. Autocratic by temperament and in his operations, he spent his last years defending his achievements, but even his critics agreed that his impact had been irreversible and unique.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
THROUGH HIS SCRUPULOUSLY researched books chronicling the rise to power of President Lyndon Johnson and New York urban planner Robert Moses, Robert A.
Moses, Robert. The Battle of Brooklyn, Sports Illustrated.
SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAYS This month's birthdays include Jacob Lawrence, Katsushika Hokusai, Grandma Moses, Robert Indiana and Louise Nevelson.
Defending Moses, Robert Mochrie said his client knew he had a problem with violence.