To a young Jane Jacobs, Greenwich Village, with its winding cobblestone streets and diverse makeup, was everything a city neighborhood should be. The activist, writer, and mother of three grew so fond of her bustling community that it became a touchstone for her landmark 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But consummate power broker Robert Moses saw things differently: neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village were in need of “urban renewal.” Notorious for exacting enormous human costs, Moses’s plans had never before been halted–not by governors, mayors, or FDR himself, and certainly not by a housewife from Scranton. Wrestling with Moses is the tale of a local battle with far-ranging significance. By confronting Moses and his vision, Jacobs forever changed the way Americans understood the city, and inspired citizens across the country to protest destructive projects in their own communities.
Anthony Flint is the author of two previous books: Wrestling with Moses and This Land. A former Boston Globe reporter, he is a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and contributes to The Atlantic Cities website.