‘Straight Line Crazy’ Review: The Road Rage of Robert Moses

Oct 26, 2022 · 102 comments
Nyer (NYC)
Waste of acting talent. Go back to Shakespeare, Ralph, and do something me real acting, not bad-accent parody.
VCuttolo (NYC)
Am I the only who continually confuses Ralph Fiennes with Liam Neeson?
Dennis (NYC)
@VCuttolo Boy you must have been confused during Schindler's List!
RC (nyc)
@VCuttolo No! Neeson is known to sign autographs as Fiennes for fans who mistake him as the other man. https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-30621389.html
Mr. Bentley (East Side)
After climbing over the living dead bodies in the subway after this show, it became abundantly clear that we need more than one Robert Moses to reclaim the city from the bleeding hearts that this reviewer would champion.
What Is This (Gotham)
The reviewer notes Moses’ success against Vanderbilt and that class but doesn’t explain the long, sweeping, southward curve in the Northern State east of Roslyn Rd that put in place a massive detour around the Gold Coast.
T (NYC)
Saw the matinee today. Ralph Fiennes is a treasure.
James D (Jersey City NJ)
Wait. Jesse Green doesn’t like Robert Moses, and so he therefore doesn’t like a play that doesn’t castigate the lead character harshly enough? And that’s considered valid criticism? Time for Mr. Green to go.
Science Teacher (Illinois)
There is a "Bowery Boys" NYC walking tour in lower Manhattan which focuses precisely on the projects over which Moses and Jane Jacobs clashed - might be worth looking at as an adjunct to the play.
Grittenhouse (Philadelphia, PA)
The more I think about Robert Moses, the more I can separate his accomplishments from his personality and methods of work. Look at what we have now: parkways radiating from New York City, rather than plain interstates (and I wonder how much his parkway approach affected interstate design as a whole); transportation routes throughout the city, huge and beautiful parks for recreation, and the location of freeways/parkways on the edges of boroughs instead of cutting through them, with the exception of the Bronx. And then there are the monumental, graceful and exceptionally beautiful bridges he built! The Verrazano Bridge is second only to the Golden Gate Bridge. But also the Triborough Bridge, Throg's Neck, etc. That one man accomplished all this is phenomenal. Perhaps he had no one in his personal life to undermine him. I can think of no woman in history, apart from perhaps Cleopatra, who even comes close to his accomplishments, and not many men. I'm sure a lot of people were angry with Baron Hauptman when he rebuilt Paris, but no one is unhappy with his ever-lasting results. Perspective, please!
NgHai (Vermont)
The Cross Bronx Expressway ruined the Bronx and it was deliberate. And it’s “Throgg’s Neck”. Moses doesn’t tell us how to spell our nabe. (I lived in Throgg’s Neck for 43 years )
nfb (miami)
Hoping to buy two tickets for my sister, a huge fan of Power Broker by Robert Caro. Almost all sold out and tickets are at exorbitant prices well beyond the reach of many New York theatre lovers. It really sours me on access to shows. I could afford the tickets but I refuse to spend close $800+ a ticket.
Giulia (NYC)
Access was there if you got on it as soon as the play was announced. I bought my 5th row seat for $99 in July!
nfb (miami)
@Giulia Lucky you!
LB (Watertown MA)
@nfb You could have seen this on NTlive from London for $20.00 in September.
ANTHONY (TORONTO ONT)
Cue Jane Jacobs. Ms Jacobs moved up to Canada in the 1970's and continued her career as an Elitist nay sayer . Ms Jacobs publicly celebrated the electoral victory of the Parti Quebecois , welcoming the separtists & their mission to destroy Canada . No matter Canada gave her & her Family sancturary the Lady still wanted to end our Confederation . Poor Canada so Far from God..so near American Liberals.
Ricie (Brooklyn)
@ANTHONY Correct. And she will never be a subject of a 1200 page hit job bio by Caro.
ANTHONY (TORONTO ONT)
@Ricie Robert Moses had a vision & the drive to see it thru dispite the muck of NY politics ..wether people agree with that vision or not ,that alone is an amazing achievement Its the Man or Woman "In the Arena" that matter . Those who have no parade of their own never miss a chance to rain on other peoples parades . Honour to Mr Moses.
NYWoman (NYC)
She also helped prevent the Spadina Expressway, which would have been as bad as the one in New York she fought, destroying stable neighborhoods.
Sandy (Chicago)
As a little kid, I was a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I will never forgive Moses for denying Walter O'Malley permission to move the Dodgers from the decaying cramped Ebbets Field to the site of what is now Atlantic Yards (home of the Nets). For Moses, it was "Flushing Meadow or shove it." He made it so that Brooklynites would have to go to deepest Queens (by either car or excruciatingly long train ride through Manhattan) to see our own NL team play. So O'Malley felt he had no choice. The real historical Moses "let my people go." Robert Moses let my Dodgers go (taking the Giants west with them to boot). I would probably "boo" through the entire play.
MAD (Brooklyn)
Jesse Green gets better and better: “Dramaturgy by laxative” should go down in the annals of criticism (and Frank Bruno’s round up of colorful language)
Acme Joe”” (Connecticut)
To be fair...almost every major metropolitan area in the USA (and probably Europe) had their own version of Robert Moses...some of whom studied at his feet. That said, he was the granddaddy, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Roger Federer. Mohamed Ali AND Sonny Liston of them all. He was a one-of-a-kind in a class of his own who battled and bested truly notable people from ALL races and classes throughout New York State from Montauk to Buffalo and beyond. Without Moses (and others) the long forgotten legacy and impact of Al Smith would have only been a fraction of what it was...and without Smith, there would have been no New Deal. And oh yeah...there WAS a cruel abusive dark side. As I ponder the lofty aspirations of those (including myself) who long for a government that will slay the dragons of special interest...both corporate and NIMBY and aggressively facilitate a transition to a non-fossil fuel / de-carbonized future and actually BUILD IT the vast necessary infrastructure to support it, I often as myself: Where is OUR Robert Moses? It is worth noting that when Caro wrote his brilliant "The Power Broker", New York City was truly on its way down and was probably at its lowest point in its history. The public at large...including Moses boosters...thought it was ungovernable and would never recover. Hmmm.
Grittenhouse (Philadelphia, PA)
@Acme Joe”” That is not true, I would say. Few cities have the kinds of features he created, the parks, parkways, beautiful bridges. He is not responsible for extensive freeway networks, that was never his esthetic.
NYWoman (NYC)
Really? Cue the Gowanus Expressway ( destroying stable Brooklyn neighborhoods) and the thankfully defeated Lower Manhattan Expressway.
Emmitt Luther Till (The Bronx)
@Acme Joe”” I have absolutely no clue of what you’re talking about. How was Robert Moses “the grandaddy” of Tom Brady, Lebron James etc;?
SAM (Manhattan)
I saw this in London and at intermission queried the young British couple next to me (clearly on a first date) as to their interest level on the topic. As we all agreed, their watching this play in London would be like me watching in NYC a play written by an American about the use of fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. The young woman remained hopeful nonetheless. As it is a play by Hare, she said she was waiting for the “big metaphor.” At the end, we all agreed that what this play is truly about is how certain individuals with certain skill sets are necessary to certain times and therefore rise up and prove effective, while these same individuals, if they live long enough, will one day find that the cultural has changed no longer supports their ways and means, let alone their vision. While this play is topically about Moses and city planning, it is really about how a person does or does not manage to remain relevant. Something Hare, as an elder statesman of the theater, must understand.
Pat JA (New York, NY)
Straight Line Crazy sure spoke to me. In the play, when Moses started building the roads on Long Island before the court case against it was settled—that’s just what the city did to East River Park last year—they worked 24/7 for several days to bulldoze it before the court date. Ironically, they used Robert Moses methods to knock down a wonderful Moses-created riverfront oasis on the Lower East Side. Straight Line Crazy and The Power Broker seem to be the city’s guides, not the cautionary tales they should be. The city is about to develop Governors Island with a Climate Center built right on the waters edge in clear contempt for climate change—along with hotels and businesses and hundreds of cars. Chinatown is on its way to being obliterated by rampant development that brings displacement and gentrification with a few affordable housing units to assuage the community. The city is now streamlining the process for development so only politicians and developers will have any say. Sorry, Jane Jacobs, you have no place in New York City today. Good play!
Irate citizen (NY)
I'm 77, New Yorker. I have no opinion on Moses, never was interested in him. What I do remember is that with the Post WWII Prosperity, the Automobile was King. Eveyone kneeled down before the King. If not Moses, someone else would have built the same.
Cait (Santa Clara)
I enjoyed this play in London last spring. Fiennes' tremendous acting and the intimate staging had me cheering him, his secretary and assistant before intermission. Then the hammer lowered as his road wasn't really for working class people getting to the beach at all. Willy Loman entered the building. After the play I reflected on how San Francisco was dissected similarly and how a train route from San Jose to Santa Cruz was destroyed for working class beach goers due to roads and cars.
Lewis Ford (Ann Arbor, MI)
I'm all for great British actors playing quintessentially American roles (e.g., Vivien Leigh in the movies, twice, brilliantly) but Fiennes? Sounds like a huge stretch for him, a bridge way too far, even longer than the BQE. This should have been a role for Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, or George C. Scott in their primes.
Julie (CT)
Maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman too
Mr. Bentley (East Side)
@Lewis Ford . . . A wonderful example of counterfactuals in theatre criticism. Should the play have been written by Lillian Hellman too?
What Is This (Gotham)
I thought that an actor portraying someone of different ethnicity was verboten these days.
Rick (Dale)
I give them credit for not just making another show for the tourists.
Doug Ritter (Rome, Italy)
For those that like the play I can recommend Caro’s biography as a great book. Bought and read it when it came out. As a New Yorker and Long Islander it was a great read.
renee (nyc)
An excellent read!
Susan Hochberg (NYC)
@Doug Ritter I read Caro's biography of Moses about ten years ago and then a few years later I bought a copy (the first was borrowed) and read it again. All 1100 pages or so. One of the great bios as far as I am concerned. Was very disappointed that the chapter he wrote about Jane Jacobs and the Village was not included in the book because the publisher thought it became too long. (Still can't believe that.) Now waiting for Caro to complete his last volume on LBJ. Soon I hope. Caro is one of our greatest biographical and journalistic writers. Probably the best!
bklynite (Brooklyn, NY)
I have tickets for this in Nov. Very much looking forward to it. Ralph Feinnes is one of the finest actors around. I am an urban planner and of course like many planners of my generation devoured "The Power Broker." That said there has been an interesting re-evaluation of Moses' legacy in recent years. The Museum of the City of New York did a brilliant exhibition about Robert Moses some years back...probably mid-2000s at this point. If you're really interested in a more nuanced analysis of Moses' career, and mid-century planning generaly, its worth tracking down the book MCNY published to accompany the exhibit. No idea if its available anywhere these days. We should appreciate Moses' successes (Riverside Park, Jones Beach, etc) while recognizing his racism and many abject failures. And by the same token acknowledge Jane Jacob's tremendous contribution to how we understand cities while also recognizing that her embrace of localism has soured in NYC and many other "progressive" American cities into a reactionary NYMBISM.
music observer (nj)
@bklynite Jones Beach was the one time when Moses actually stared down the rich elite he so strived to be part of. The area had been a hunt and fish club for the Vanderbilts et al. And of course that he made it so only people with cars could get there, thanks to low bridges on his parkways. When he built the parkways he ruined farms out there so as to minimize the impact on the well off. Riverside Park was a partial success. His refusal to build the park down to the waterfront and put the highway on the upper end was typical of Moses giving the car the best views (likewise, the roads he built in central part were to make it car friendly). He did the same thing with the Henry Hudson Parkway as well. Jacobs wasn't about Nimbyism, it was about Moses doing what we did in Vietnam in a sense, destroying neighborhoods to save them. He was going to tear down the village and replace it with housing projects. It is easy to look now where a building is worth 10's of millions, but it would have destroyed the whole area and turned it into a slum.
NgHai (Vermont)
Jane Jacobs is still my hero. She was right.
UWSer (Upper West Side)
"I doubt I’d have enjoyed meeting the real Robert Moses, New York’s paver of highways, evictor of minorities, eminent domain eminence and all-purpose boogeyman." Well, there's no accounting for taste but you are definitely are poorer never to have spent time with him. I did meet and spend time with Mr.Moses back in the late 1970s in his office at Triborough. Well into his ninth decade he remained - as one would expect - utterly certain in his views but he was also eloquent, a very gracious host, and extremely funny. His voice did have a kind of Connecticut-nasal quality - likely picked up from his time at Yale. A controversial man? Certainly - especially these days with our addiction to presentism. An "all-purpose boogeyman"? Only to critics and playwrights trying to boil down a complicated career into a couple of hours of stage play or a few frothy column inches.
music observer (nj)
@UWSer There is nothing "presentism" about the criticism of Moses. You can argue he brought money into NY during the depression and helped keep people employed, and did leave behind things like Jones Beach, but that was a tiny fraction of the damage the man did. Imperious, always right, he became a dicator without portfolio because his government corporations had unlimited bonding authority. And his vision of the city was the poor and working class people didn't matter, cities were to be a playground of the rich, and if it hurt everyone else, tough. His whole life he wanted to be a WASP elite like those he want to Yale with, and as such he picked up their disdain for anyone not them. You look at any number of ills NYC has faced, and Moses was in the middle of it, especially with the large missing holes in mass transit. You might have liked him, I have known people who worked with and for him, they said he was Donald Trump.
B. (Brooklyn)
The difference between Moses and Trump is that Moses actually lived pretty modestly. He might have had enormous power, but he didn't make tons of money. Obviously, he altered our city irremediably. I can remember when the Prospect Expressway was still a muddy trench, but not all the homes lost. As a lad, way before the Belt Parkway was built, my dad rolled down the hill from Shore Road in Bay Ridge into the Narrows, and then swam amidst flotsam from our sewers. There we are. Sometimes Moses saved middle-class apartment buildings. There are stories about his moving them intact, tenants' possessions unscathed, every teacup arriving in its new neighborhood safely, in order to get them out of the path of a new road. Highways did, however, allow people an extraordinary, exhilarating feeling of freedom and still do. I use Southern State Parkway to get to places like Bayard Cutting Arboretum, and Northern State to get to Old Westbury Gardens. (I had felt far less compelled to drive out of Brooklyn before Bill de Blasio made his various civic improvements.)
Thom O'Neill (New York City)
@UWSer I too had the privilege of meeting with him at his Triborough office, and also in the late 1970's. He was charming and brilliant and still devoted to public service. His roadways and parks made natural beauty accessible to the masses. Had he not created the Long Island State Park system, the rich would have had exclusive use and access of this magnificent land until such time as their heirs sold the land to developers. Houses and condo complexes would stand today on land that is fortunately owned by the public.
Eric (New York)
Saw this play in London in April. A total snooze, and I was not jet-lagged. Hoping to stay awake, I eventually tuned out the boring, often preposterous and cringeworthy dialogue, and instead spent my time analyzing the New York and Long Island maps that were a prominent part of the scenery. It didn't really help, although I was kept busy counting the numerous inaccuracies and/or anachronisms (clearly, the British author has as much to learn about the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Meadowbrook Parkway as I do about the A1). As for Mr. Green, he clearly has a fanboy crush on Mr. Fiennes, who really wasn't that good. Unless you have one too, I would take a pass.
itsjustabook (Philadelphia)
Does anyone have any idea what this critic thinks of the play? It's apparent that the likes Fiennes. But he thinks the entire first act is a drag and the second act is undramatic - all summarized as follows: "That’s no tragedy. The play is still a pleasure, and Moses is still in the doghouse. " So Jesse, did you like it or not? Isn't that what a critic is supposed to tell us?
Bronx Jane (New York)
Ralph Fiennes forever the strutting genocidal Nazi officer then being punished as the dying aircraft crash burn victim. Robert Moses would love this perfect characterization, Jane Jacobs hoohaaing "burn, baby, burn.
Margo Channing (Nw York)
I'll pass thank you. Grateful for one thing from this madman and that is the glorious Jones Beach. The man was a racist vile man who should be forgotten.
Josie (NYC)
@Margo Channing You can't learn from past mistakes when they are forgotten.
Marjorie Summons (Greenpoint)
Making Jane Jacobs a minor character is a sick, sick joke. This paper continuously ignores her work and what she did for New York. This play is disgusting. Only men. All the time. Sick.
Junewell (NY)
One thing (of many) Caro really lays out in The Power Broker is how much the Times enabled Moses at all the moments when critical press attention could have made a difference.
Steve K (New York, NY)
I am a 70 year old who has lived in New York all of my life. Having spent many hours at Jones Beach (the best) and having spent all too many times negotiating the Cross Bronx Expressway (the very worst) along with reading Caro's biography (in some resgards masterful but with due respect to the great editor Robert Gottlieb still much too much too long; think I am as capable as anyone else in judging David Hare's play. Briefly, two and a half hours trying to capture a man, a region. a style of governing AND REALlY NAILING IT. Bravo Mr. Hare, Mr. Fiennes, Mr Hytner and all others who are responsible for Straight Line Crazy. Please take a bow!!
sol hurok (backstage)
Robert Moses' impact was not restricted to the NYC Metro area and NY State. Moses, at the invitation of Louisiana's Department of Highways, nearly succeeded in having built the Riverfront Expressway, an elevated six-lane highway that would have run directly over the length of Decatur Street through the French Quarter in New Orleans, completely cutting off the one-of-a-kind historic district from the Mississippi River waterfront. All in the interest of cars and expanding the Nola suburbs. It was Nixon's transportation secretary who somehow had the wisdom to kill the plan. https://www.nola.com/news/article_50a45a30-b25b-11e9-a32c-8fddd41786f6.html
Margo Channing (Nw York)
@sol hurok What he wanted to do in the Village in NYC. More roads for a man who never drove. Insane.
Jim (Texas)
Ralph Finnes is one of today's greatest actors. There aren't many. Him and Daniel Day-Lewis immediately come to mind. I never miss anything they do.
Sconseter (Sconset)
@Jim Agreed, and I'd add Mark Rylance.
John C (Washington, DC)
@Jim Fiennes in "Faith Healer" is one of the two or three greatest stage performances (of many) I've seen.
Avid NYT reader (NYC)
@Jim Yep, they are great actors. However, if it's the actor you notice, and not the play, its story, its message, and the character the actor is tasked to portray, that's a sign that the actor didn't do such a great job. A great performance leaves the audience forgetting the actor and remembering the rest. I would hope after seeing the play you would hardly remember who the actor was. Instead you'd remember Robert Moses. A star can bring in the audience but can also distract from the story and the character they portray. The irony I read is that this NYTimes reviewer loved the actor yet says based on what we know about Moses, Fiennes portrayal shows little evidence of portraying what he was actually like.
rob (boston)
For those of you who will miss the NY production note that the National Theater taped its London production and transmitted it into various U.S. theaters in September (one night only). I had tickets but had to miss it. It is possible that they will put back into theaters in U.S. again once the NY production closes mid-December, unless they take it to other cities. You can look for updates on any future showings at ntlive.com National theatre live is a gift - many great productions come to a movie theater near you. I have no connection but have been availing myself of their offerings for years.
Mary C (London/New York)
@rob The play was at the Bridge Theatre. Not the National.
Jo Ann Neusner (Cambridge)
@rob the nt live app includes it in the new trailer of coming attractions.
rob (boston)
@Mary C I stand corrected that it was a Bridge Theatre production and originally performed there--it was not a National Theatre production. Thank you. Nonetheless, the production was filmed and is being distributed to movie theaters in the US through National Theatre Live and information about future viewings can be accessed through National Theatre Live website.
charlie (CT)
Did the critic seriously ask why anyone (progressive, no less) would write about man who's considered a villain? Or maybe he thinks the audience isn't clever enough to understand the difference between "valorizing" (a very Robert Moses-like word) a character and exposing him.
Cait (Santa Clara)
@charlie As a West coaster, I did not know his story. I was hooked like a fish the first half of the play. This guy was Harold Hill of the Music Man. I finally got it after intermission as Fiennes artfully unraveled Moses.
B. (Brooklyn)
Well, Charlie, give Moses some credit. Although I would have preferred that room had been made for trains along all our bridges and tunnels, these Moses-built bridges and tunnels did connect our boroughs. The Niagara power plant probably couldn't be built today, and heaven knows it comes in handy; I understand they're going to try to upgrade it after practically a century of use. Parkways leading out of the city through Long Island and Westchester allowed for expansion of suburbs and travel to areas beyond in a way no train could have. While I hate the subsidized, often water- and river-front high rises built in place of small neighborhoods, no one can deny that the many miles of them are filled to the gills, and we want more. Two dozen swimming pools were built in all the boroughs. According to Wikipedia, "By mid-1936, ten of the eleven WPA-funded pools were completed and were being opened at a rate of one per week. Combined, the facilities could accommodate 66,000 swimmers. The eleven WPA pools were considered for New York City landmark status in 1990. Ten of the pools were designated as New York City landmarks in 2007 and 2008." While the argument runs that pools were not being built in Black neighborhoods, in fact there were far fewer Black people living in New York City in the 1930s. Moses rebuilt and expanded Riis Park in the 1930s specifically for the working classes. The WPA, which built all these roads and structures, was a Godsend during the Great Depression.
Mark (Falls Church, Va.)
Welp, like Merrily We Roll Along at NYTW, Straight Line Crazy is sold out for its entire run. Hopefully the London version, which was filmed, will come to a theater near me.
roadrunner (Manhattan)
@Mark It's already been. Maybe there will be theaters who will run it again, but the first round of showings are over. It is terrific theater, on the screen or live.
cfaye (Midwood, Brooklyn)
@Mark The show isn't sold out. Third party tickets are available at exorbitant prices for almost every performance. Tickets for one Saturday performance were priced at $919 on a resale site.
jack (nc)
These may be among the finest two sentences ever penned by a theater critic: ...Fiennes never falters. His Moses, like his performance, becomes a car in search of a road, gunning the engine with nowhere to go.
JBC (Indianapolis)
Straight Line Crazy is a perfect example of great acting elevating a decent, but somewhat inert, play.
Artsfan (NYC)
The play was as flat as the LIE when we saw it two nights ago. Got no feeling for what made Moses tick. Read the book instead.
Diane. Fanizza (New. York. City)
Ralph Fiennes bravura tour de force performance is reason enough to see this fascinating play. But thank you to a British playwright , David Hare ,vfor bringing the mercurial complexity of Robert Moses back into the international spotlight. Like it or not , Moses is a great American figure. A man who envisioned and built Jones Beach , Riverside Park , and Lincoln Centre and made Long. Island accessible to all with a vision ( as Hare writes ) of " a boy from the slums playing in the sun " is a colossal personality too be more respected than disliked .
roadrunner (Manhattan)
@Diane. Fanizza Re your last sentence: You didn't see the same play I did. By the end, there was nothing to respect.
DPQuinn (New Jersey)
As a child I was fascinated by the NY World's Fair alI brought it all, hook, line and sinker. I gave my Family a tour when we finally got there in 1965. It was enthralling to me from the GM Pavilion with cars aloft without traffic jams, the Pieta at the Vatican Museum or the water ride into the egg of the IBM Pavilion. I cried when it was demolished and gave post-mortem tours a few years later at the United States Pavilion collapsed into a ruin, and demolished rather than preserved. Moses was a gruff personality. My Father's Family left Brooklyn after the demolitions started for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. None of the highway's ever worked as I remember constant traffic jams on all of them most of the time.
JB (New York City)
Hail David Hare and Ralph Fiennes. Masterful and highly entertaining play about a complex man the complex growth of cities.
C (New York, N.Y.)
Good to know that only New York suffered from rampant highway building that needlessly sliced through urban neighborhoods. Thank goodness the rest of America was spared. You’d otherwise think Eisenhower’s interstate highway system had a widespread impact, or the desire of families to raise children in a child friendly suburban environment encouraged sprawl, The decline of manufacturing in urban settings, and rising crime rates which began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s hurt the rust belt more than the destructive road building. But the real question is why isn’t there a play about Jane Jacobs instead of Robert Moses? Her legacy will loom larger with each passing year. One suspects it’s a bias for men and construction projects. Great museums are devoted to the Egyptian pharaohs and their pyramids but not to social forces that ended their reign.
DPQuinn (New Jersey)
@C Hey C, what about Cleopatra ?
C (New York, N.Y.)
@DPQuinn Even she was denied top billing. Anthony and Cleopatra
DPQuinn (New Jersey)
@C They were side by side on Roman coins.
Cest la Blague (Earth)
Robert Moses parted the green sea of Long Island forest and paved the way for White Flight out of NYC. Jane Jacobs told us how to keep urban neighborhoods thriving. Which is the New Yorker to be admired?
DaveD (Wisconsin)
@Cest la Blague Remaining in or fleeing cities is up to individuals, not road builders. You and Jacobs might have been happier in medieval walled cities.
Ian Wood (NYC)
Two production notes from what I saw in the previews: Jane Jacobs in real life actually knew how to pronounce "Toronto"; and the fictional young TBTA employee at once point says she is on "the Planning Commission", which would never be true. But hey, who are we kidding, it's a play about ROBERT MOSES and it's absolutely awesome. Power Broker nerds rejoice.
Zeke (NYC)
I live on Long Island. If it weren't for Robert Moses, we'd still have dirt roads and no public facilities. He did make one MAJOR error when designing the roadways—he placed the entrance ramps BEFORE the exit ramps; this making cars slow down to exit while they wait for the car entering the roadway to ease in. This is a MAJOR cause of traffic on the LIE, Southern State and Northern State Parkways. If these two were switched, there would be no need for cars to slow down to allow others to come in. The entrance and exits would be seamless. Fix this, and watch traffic decrease dramatically.
Mary C (London/New York)
@Zeke He built the bridges low for the purpose of keeping buses out and refused to build a LI train line, all to keep "those people" out.
soniadelaunay (texas)
@Zeke oh yes. Not just New York either. Big beef of mine here in Texas too; and there's hardly a shortage of space in this neck of the woods!
Pedro G. (Arlington VA)
@Zeke Huh? Long Island exploded with the end of WWII and former farmland becoming suburbia for all those former (white) soldiers and their boomer families. Yeah, Moses gave them parkways and Jones Beach but the Mad Men guys like my old man took the LIRR Oyster Bay line to work in Manhattan for decades. And the bar car home at night.
Chris (Long Island)
I need to see this play. How do you handle a man who reshaped NY so much. is hated by so many but at the same time was the builder of parks and the biggest builder of public housing in the country. He wanted to bulldoz ocean beach in fire island to ram a highway through. it really was never about the highway but flood control for Long Island. it's the only way he could get the money and build berms to hold back the eventual flooding from a super storm say like sandy. He failed to get the highway through tens of thousands of people enjoy fire island a gem of a place every year and tens of thousands had their homes ruined by Sandy 10 years ago that would have been prevented by the highway which was really just a levy. Even in this article the author takes time to bash Robert Moses and the cross Bronx. The author bashes the poor families moved. the author also notes that the richest in the country also had their land seized to build the Northern State parkway which leads to the sunken meadow parkway and sunken meadow park which today is enjoyed by ten thousand people from Queens every summer weekend. These are all not so easy tradeoffs. Decisions made unilaterally by the greatest power broker in NY history.
Cest la Blague (Earth)
@Chris "it really was never about the highway" Historically revising Moses into an environmentalist erases the historical context: his goal was to create suburban car nation.
Steven G (NYC)
@Cest la Blague Actually no, when he built his roadways cars the use of cars were not as great as they eventually became, this he did not forsee and did not develop his roads as commuter highways.
Science Teacher (Illinois)
"Unilaterally" is the operative word...
celeste (NYC)
had the fortune to see this on tuesday night and ralph fiennes is a tour de force. it's true the 2nd half didn't have quite the writerly dynamism of the first half but he forcibly brought the later (read intransigent, egotistic) Robert Moses to life in spite of it. fascinating and memorable.
cb (nyc)
Hare’s and the directors’ invention doesn’t fade because it’s not there from the outset, and Danny Webb plays Al Smith as if he were a character in an old Red Skelton show skit. It’s worth seeing for Fiennes but not for much else.
CBarbash (New York)
Robert Moses was ultimately brought down by Nelson Rockefeller. Details on request.
Runkle (New York)
@CBarbash Would be great to learn more!
Guy Walker (NYC)
@CBarbash FDR spent a good amount of time keeping an eye on him and keeping him in check long before Nelson Rockafeller, but if there's something you know that I don't, please share. Moses built almost everything and everywhere he wanted, so I'm not sure if you are talking about the failure in The Battery or what.
Ken (New York City)
@Guy Walker If I remember from Caro's book, which I read some time ago, it was Eleanor Roosevelt that helped quash the bridge that Moses wanted to build from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Ultimately it became the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Moses did get his 'bridge' built though, the Verrazano.
sssur (NY)
The run is all sold out and tickets are selling for between $900 and $1,800! Feels like this play is going somewhere.
Zeke (NYC)
@sssur $900-1800! I would NEVER, EVER, pay anywhere near that for a ticket to see anyone, in any play, at any time. Rip off
Marc (Issaquah, WA)
@sssur Too bad, I guess we have to wait for the movie version and/or read Mr. Caro's book.
CBarbash (New York)
@sssur The Shed just released more tickets this morning, at their usual prices.
Steve K (New York, NY)
I am a 70 year old lifetime resident of New York. Many hours spent at Jones Beach in my younger days (wonderful). Much too many hours spent on the Cross Bronx Expressway (horrible). Long time observer/recipient/victim of Moses"s good, not so good and ugly. Read Mr. Caro's biographical doorstop "The Power Broker" 20 + years ago (Great work of research and scholarship but still much too long despite Robert Gottlieb's herculean efforts to cut it down). Saw "Straight Line Crazy" this past weekend. 2 1/2 hours and you really had a sense of who Robert Moses was, what he did and how he did- like it or not, BRUTE FORCE. Bravo to Mr. Hare, Mr. Fiennes, Mr. Hytner et al for a job well done. Masterful: A dramatic play, Magnificent Acting, a great story. GO SEE IT!
B (Brooklyn)
@Steve K You can’t. Didn’t you read the comment? ALL SOLD OUT!
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