“Have no fear of change as such and, on the other hand, no liking for it merely for its own sake.”- Robert Moses
Robert Moses shaped New York as we know it today. He built nearly every road: the East River Drive, Major Deegan, Van Wyck, West Side Highway, Cross-Bronx Expressway, Long Island Expressway and any other you can imagine. He built 416 miles of parkways. He built every bridge: the Triborough, Verrazano, Throgs Neck, Henry Hudson, Whitestone, etc. He built Lincoln Center and the United Nations. He built 600 playgrounds in New York City. He was America’s greatest builder and he personally shaped a city that many regard as the greatest in the world. But, how?
The cost of progress was significant. Not just in the form of dollars, but the trade-offs. Moses’ plan displaced an estimated 500,000 people from their homes; this complicates his legacy. His decisions were unpopular with many, yet he persisted with his priorities. Over a period of 44 years, a combination of power, personality, and influence enabled him to accomplish something that no one else could imagine. He had an ‘owners’ mindset; he was building for the long term, thinking systemically, not tactically. Any employee of the local/state government at the time, with their myopic goal of getting elected/re-elected, could not accomplish the same priorities. They had a ‘renters’ mindset: short-term and transactional.
Owners can do things that employees cannot. Not because of their position, but because of their mindset.
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