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The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs
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The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In the 1970s, New York City hit rock bottom. Crime was at its highest, the middle class exodus was in high gear, and bankruptcy loomed. Many people credit New York’s “master builder” Robert Moses with turning Gotham around, despite his brutal, undemocratic. and demolition-heavy ways.Urban critic and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz contradicts this conventional view. New Y ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Nation Books (first published 2010)
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Chris Ledermuller
I'm a huge fan of Jane Jacobs, and I was in San Francisco and happened by City Lights bookstore when this book beckoned in the display window.

I could polish off much of the book for the 10-hour train ride on the San Joaquin back to Los Angeles.

The train trip was pleasant. This book, though, was disappointing, especially for the relatively high price of a hardcover when it was just a few months old when purchased new in 2010.

"The Battle for Gotham" is an extended thank-you note from Roberta Brand
Robert Moses was the towering figure of public works in the New York of my youth. I swam at his Jones Beach with its gorgeous bathhouses and boardwalk that felt like a stroll on the deck of a luxury liner. It seems Moses shaped the entire waterfront including the crests of the waves. I was driven on his parkways (Belt to see grandma, Meadowbrook to get to Jones Beach). He shaped the 1963 World's Fair (a money loser) and eventually gained control of a half-dozen public agencies. The Moses name se ...more
So much not to like about this book. It was written so poorly, I wondered about the editor. Points were made and not supported, but then she would come back to them later. She just bounced around making the whole thing lacking in cogency. But worse was Gratz's egocentrism. She starts the book with her own bio and never stops reminding us of her presence at events and diligence in writing about them. We get it; it's all about you.

The conceit that she is somehow enlightening us to the evils of Rob
Noah Stacy
Disappointing. I didn't make it past the first chapter, which was shaping up as primarily autobiographical rather than an investigation of Moses or Jacobs. While I can appreciate the author's justification for this--that her own story was representative of the city's--it wasn't what I was hoping for when I picked this up.
Dean Brodhag
A good summary of the start of Jane JAcobs and her impact on urban planning.
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