Last year, The Observer lamented an infrastructural ambivalence on the part of governors on both sides of the Hudson, and wondered if the great states of New York and New Jersey had not finally given up the ghost of shovels in the ground begun grandly, if problematically, by Robert Moses nearly a century ago.
Governor Andrew Cuomo assuaged some of those fears with his grand visions for investment premiered at this year’s state of the state. While those proposal have been met with sometimes mixed reviews—Really, another casino? Will an Aqueduct convention center work? Where’s the mass transit?—it has at least restored some faith in the govenor’s willingness to build.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced the 15-member board of a new infrastructure bank, and in so doing, invoked the name of Robert Moses, both grandly and problematically.
Since 1986, Steven Spinola has served as president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the powerful lobbying arm that he has captained through two recessions, property tax reductions and a series of battles against the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Commercial Observer spoke to Mr. Spinola, 63, about what he learned in 2011, new battles for the New Year, his weakness for skiing and whether he’d rather be drinking with Robert Moses or Jane Jacobs. Hint: His answer probably won’t surprise anybody.
Brooklyn State of Mind
Oh, the ironies of the rich.
When Robert Moses proposed a plan for the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to cut right through Brooklyn Heights, the local noblesse were in a rage. The solution was wrapping the highway around the tony neighborhood. Moses was even thoughtful enough to add the world-famous Promenade, beloved location of so many cinematographers, and still the locals were not happy.
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.
Not since David Lynch (tried) to adapt Dune for the screen has The Observer had such conflicted feelings about a movie: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oliver Stone will adapt The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s epic 1,161-page door stop of glory, into an HBO special.
Stage and Street
If they can make a musical about Atlantic Yards, why not one about Robert Caro’s mammoth book The Power Broker? The Times brought none other than Caro himself to a rehearsal for the new musical about Robert Moses, a show that sounds like a real hit:
Roads blast through;
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of a thousand commuters throwing their heads on their horns in exasperation at the mouth of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
Not only will they spend precious minutes of family time waiting for the slightest signs of motion, but it turns out this vital piece of infrastructure belongs in a Read More
Last week was a very bad one for mass transit, a reminder that cars still rule the world, even in New York City. But it could have been a lot worse. Consider what might have happened if Robert Moses had realized his most demonic vision: an expressway plowing right through the middle of Manhattan. Read More
When Jane Jacobs died in 2006, the Silverleaf Tavern on Park Avenue named a drink in her honor. A Jane Jacobs, which costs $14, consists of Hendrick’s gin, elderflower syrup, orange bitters and sparkling wine.
Elderflower syrup: This is not an ingredient you would associate with the White Read More
By almost any measure, Jerry and Rob Speyer’s planned development of the West Side rail yards is on a grand scale.
Its space (26 acres), price tag (perhaps $12 billion to $13 billion, based on the cost for two similar proposals at the site), and size (13 million square feet) all outstrip major development Read More