The redesign of 34th Street has come in for its fair—or unfair, depending on perspective—share of criticism in the lead up to today’s launch of Select Bus Service on the thoroughfare. One person who would gladly board that bus, so to speak? None other than Robert Caro.
The Observer was interviewing Mr. Caro for an article about infrastructure investment—or lack thereof—in the country and the region. (Read all about it in this Wednesday’s paper.) We were discussing the way the Bloomberg administration has been reshaping the city in the manner of Moses, if on a far smaller scale, which led The Observer to mention the opposition to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, often compared to “Moses in a skirt.” Mr. Caro said he did not understand all the griping.
“I’ve never met her, but I know people are knocking her,” he said. “But what they should remember is that at bottom, what she’s engaged in is an effort to rescue the city from an over-dependence on the automobile that hurts the city in so many ways.”
During our conversation, Mr. Caro spoke fondly of what the city was, a fabric of neighborhoods and cultures, and what it could be again. It is not clear that New York is returning to those polyglot days—look at the mostly well-to-do neighborhoods bike lanes tend to serve—but Mr. Caro regards it as an improvement nonetheless.
“When Robert Moses came to power, for 40 years, he systematically starved mass-transit, both the subways and the commuter railroads while pouring the city’s resources into highways, into the things that would increase its dependence on the automobile,” Mr. Caro said. “So I do think we would have a more balanced transportation system without him.”
And we’re in the midst of that rebalancing? “Yes, I do believe so.”