Wrestling with Moses : how Jane Jacobs took on New York's master builder and transformed the American city

by Anthony Flint

Hardcover, 2009





New York : Random House, c2009.


Documents the 1968 clash between activist writer Jane Jacobs and urban-planning giant Robert Moses over a planned expressway in New York City, exploring how Jacobs' eventual victory reshaped the ways in which people respond to urban renewal projects.

Media reviews

Mr. Flint neatly summarizes all three battles between Jacobs and her forces and Moses and his. He captures Mr. Moses’s pique at being stymied. “There is nobody against this,” he sputtered about the Washington Square Park plan. “Nobody, nobody, nobody but a bunch of, a bunch of mothers.”

User reviews

LibraryThing member bruchu
Great Backgrounder

This is a decently written non-fictional work about the well publicized battles between the quintessential modernist Robert Moses and his arch-nemesis and modernism's grandest critic in Jane Jacobs. Although Anthony Flint offers no new analytical insight into modernism, Flint does a good job in weaving in between stories to deliver a well-written biography.

Written to the level of the average reader, I am sure this book will be of interest to anyone studying postwar urban development.
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LibraryThing member bezoar44
Jane Jacobs, author, thinker, and neighborhood activist, passed away in 2006. This book, published in 2010, offers a sympathetic biography, with a particular focus on her involvement in three neighborhood fights in New York, all against projects championed by power broker Robert Moses: Washington Square Park; Greenwich Village; and the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Although it is written to stand independently, and would make a great read on its own, the book also serves as an excellent companion to Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities, as the information Flint provides on Jacob's professional background, and the tactics used in each of the neighborhood fights, places Death and Life in perspective. This is not a comprehensive biography, and it largely sidesteps Jacobs' later intellectual and activist life in Toronto. As others have noted, Flint strikes a careful balance; while he clearly admires Jacobs, he also presents her adversaries' perspectives, and acknowledges the tremendous impact Robert Moses had on New York's overall structure, for better and worse.… (more)
LibraryThing member breic
I think this is of somewhat limited interest. It would have been much better as a magazine article (or as a chapter in "The Power Broker"!). Jane Jacobs had good ideas, countering modernism in urban redevelopment. She also perhaps started modern NIMBYism, and it is disappointing that Flint doesn't wrestle with this aspect of her legacy. Instead, Flint largely sees unattainable housing prices as a good thing, evidence that Jacobs's vision was highly desirable. Repeatedly, Flint cites the fact that the Greenwich Village neighborhood is now priced for celebrities and designer boutiques as a *good thing*. "The Power Broker" gives a better portrait of Moses.… (more)



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