Saturday, February 05, 2005


Robert Moses, Le Corbusier , and Jane Jacobs Take The Stage

Les Freres Corbusier, an aptly named off-broadway theatre company, has decided to examine the life of the omnipotent and highly controversial New York City urban planner, Robert Moses. The play is entitled Boozy: The Life, Death, and Subsequent Vilification of Le Corbusier and, More Importantly, Robert Moses.

Commissioner Robert Moses worked for the City from 1924-1968, and was known as one of, if not the most powerful man in New York City. Though Moses never held public office, no person in American urban history has ever had as much power over the configuration (and misconfiguration) of the built environment. The projects that Moses got built cost a startling $27 billion! Among other things, this includes the Triborough Bridge, Jones Beach, the West Side Highway, Co-Op City, Shea Stadium, the Verrazano Bridge and Lincoln Center. Moses was always the proponent for large scale go-big-or-go-home development, and once had a plan for an intricate highway system to cut through and fragment lower Manhattan. Had it not been for Jane Jacobs(A true hero) and her herculean efforts to thwart Mr. Moses, the now thriving Soho neighborhood would have been utterly dismantled for "urban renewal."

The play covers everything from Moses's childhood to his inevitable decline where he refused to relinquish power in old age. Boozy has an impressive list of characters that include Benito Mussolini, FDR, Le Corbusier, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Goebbels, Fiorello LaGuardia, Nelson Rockefeller, and even the ghost of Baron von Haussmann! Though I have never seen a Les Freres Corbusier production, they are known just as much for their zany inspiration for subject matter, as they are for their detailed research and accurate portrayal of historical events. Needless to say, I expect that for the urban planning and architecture crowd, Boozy will not dissapoint. I have already planned my trip to see the March 5th show. For more information, please visit the play's website, For an in-depth look at the life of Robert Moses, I would suggest reading The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York, by Robert Caro.

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