We went to see Straight Line Crazy today, David Hare’s excellent and polemical play about Robert Moses, the New York planner who drove highways up and down Manhattan, through Long Island and the Bronx, creating public parks and swimming pools along the way, before being stopped in his determination to create a highway through Washington Park by community groups led by Jane Jacobs. I have never read the biography of Moses by Robert Caro on which the play is based and I presume that some of the narrative is oversimplified, but it seems that many of the issues are still perfectly recognisable: the tendency for city bureaucrats to lose contact with, and sympathy for, local activists who stand in the way of the exercise of civic authority; their contempt for conservation and belief in the value of progress. These tendencies are not confined to Robert Moses.
2 thoughts on “Straight Line Crazy”
I haven’t seen the play, Charles, but Moses’s bisection of the Bronx and other areas was planned racism, cutting off and thus destroying black neighbourhoods like the South Bronx, making sure bridges were too low for buses that could take poorer residents to certain beaches, and many other carefully worked-out decisions that Greater New York is still dealing with.
Yes, some of that comes out. It’s definitely worth seeing. Charles