On a July morning, at the tender age of five, I watched the building next to my Bronx tenement capitulate to the blows of a wrecking ball.
The name Robert Moses has become synonymous with the type of city planning most sentient New Yorkers hate. If he’d had his way, the legendary architect of mid-20th-century New York would have replaced Greenwich Village with a 10-lane highway, much like he razed neighborhoods in the South Bronx to build the Cross Bronx Expressway — an act many believe contributed to its decay. But to his credit, when Moses became Long Island State Park Commissioner in 1934, there were only 119 city playgrounds. When he retired in 1960, there were 777, which he hoped would deter juvenile delinquency by offering “clean, wholesome play” to children.