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June 6, 2006

The Great Man Theory of Architecture

Brooklyn Views

Breaking News: Local sports-team owner hires starchitect to design new venue at Atlantic Ave. on property to be condemned by state agency.

Before you start blaming Bruce Ratner, read Jonathan Cohn's post about how New York's master of unintended consequences, Robert Moses, put the kibosh on a ballpark boondoggle that "would create a China wall of traffic."


Even in 1955, the proposed site at Flatbush and Atlantic was extremely problematic. [Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter] O’Malley defended his selection of this site by claiming that “many people would travel to stadium events using public transportation, improving traffic in the congested area”. But Robert Moses, yes that Robert Moses, while sympathetic to the desire to keep the Dodgers in the city, knew that this was the wrong site for a stadium. Moses’s success in projects like driving the BQE through Brooklyn (even though famously stymied in Brooklyn Heights) taught him a thing or two about local traffic. He knew that people would continue to drive to games, and that the local streets would be overrun with cars. A stadium on this site, he is quoted as saying, would create “a China wall of traffic”. And while Moses was not at all reluctant to use the powers of eminent domain for public projects, even he did not believe that eminent domain could or should be used to acquire land for a private stadium. In addition to reasons “of law and sound policy”, Moses argued, the property-acquiring powers of a state agency should not be used to encourage “speculation” in baseball enterprises.


NoLandGrab: This is another Brooklyn Views must-read. Who would have thought that a historical glance at the Moses-O'Malley-Fuller connection would yield some perspective on current development plans over the railyards?

Posted by lumi at June 6, 2006 10:31 AM