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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

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  148 Ratings  ·  10 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, 350 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Nation Books (first published 2010)
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Chris Ledermuller
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: urbanism
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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jessica Leight
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book consists of three intertwined strands, none of which I found very satisfying. The first is criticism of Robert Moses that is largely cribbed from Caro’s monumental biography; it didn’t seem that the author has any original research on this point. The second is excerpts from the author’s conversations with or reflections on Jane Jacobs; in some cases, she publishes almost entire conversations without editing. While I’m interested in Jane Jacobs, I don’t think reading whole paragraphs of ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I learned a lot.
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
David A-S
The Battle for Gotham is part memoir, part urban policy study specifically in NY. The Battle is between urban planner Robert Moses and urban advocate Jane Jacobs. Gratz is by no means an impartial observer. Gratz was a city reporter for a couple of decades and since then has been an advocate for Jane Jacobs-type development. The book lets you in on the behind the scenes arguments of those shaping the city and a desire to bring the discussion to the forefront.
Noah Stacy
Oct 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
May 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, us-history
This book had it’s points and some parts were okay but overall disappointing. As a New Yorker but not a NYC person some of the neighborhood described in the book really weren’t conveyed well
A prolix mishmash.
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