Jane Jacobs vs Robert Moses: Urban Fight of the Century
Citizen Jane: Battle by for the city by Matt Tyrnauer focuses on the challenges faced by inconsiderable urban planning. The film highlights the villainous proposal by Robert Moses, an urban planner, to construct a new highway that would run down Broome Street. It also highlights the efforts by Jane Jacobs who opposed the new expressway in her community. As an activist and a resident of the West Village, she realized the need for social integration and not highways. In realizing the hostile effects of automobile expressways, she organized rallies and protest in her community. Ms. Jacobs dedication towards preserving the neighborhood resulted in her being accused of starting a riot at a public hearing about the LOMEX. It was then that many people took notice of her efforts and how far she was willing to go. With a huge following, she utilized every possible avenue and outlet available and could eradicate the heinous idea.
Throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but relate it to David and Goliath. Robert Moses certainly took on the figure of the Goliath through the documentary. He had influence and could construct the Bronx expressway which has been blamed for bisecting the area into two parts, upper class, and middle class. His approach towards the Lower Manhattan Expressway was one of a top-down tactic without concern for neighborhoods and their way of life. Jane Jacobs, on the other hand, was the opposite of Robert Moses. She was the David to his Goliath. Ms. Jacobs lived amongst the people on the ground, more specifically Greenwich village, which is situated in lower Manhattan. She published her book, The Death, and Life of Great American Cities, which was thought-provoking as it focused on the narrow-sightedness of urban planning. Her approach to urban planning involved removing the top down closed-door approach and involving the people of the community to aid in the future of their neighborhoods.
The documentary presented a new light and appreciation for thoughtful city planning. Jane Jacobs efforts seem to have at least a passive effect on modern developers. It is tough to see past plans which show the highway bisecting Manhattan. One can only imagine the level of disconnect neighborhoods would feel from such an inconsiderable expressway.