Oliver Stone Meets Robert Moses


The Hollywood Reporter brings word that director Oliver Stone is teaming up with HBO to create a film about the infamous urban planner Robert Moses based on Robert Caro's indispensable biography The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.

Moses is certainly a worthy subject for a filmmaker. Indeed, he's one of the great villains of 20th century America. He held numerous unelected positions between the early 1920s and the late 1960s, including New York City parks commissioner and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. As the shadowy force behind some $27 billion worth of public works spending (nearly $168 billion today), he commanded the loyalty of labor unions, politicians, contractors, and anyone else looking to make a few bucks off the state. Bolstered by the power of eminent domain, Moses sent his bulldozers, blasting crews, and wrecking balls to tear down homes, churches, and businesses in order to make way for thousands of new apartment buildings and public housing projects, as well as more famous affairs such as the United Nations and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. "To clear the land for these improvements," Caro writes in The Power Broker, Moses "evicted the city's people, not thousands of them or tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands, from their homes and tore the homes down. Neighborhoods were obliterated by his edict to make room for new neighborhoods reared at his command."

Let's hope Oliver Stone brings a more skeptical eye to Moses' misdeeds than he did to those of Fidel Castro.

For a detailed look at one of the neighborhoods that lost out to Moses, click below for Reason.tv's "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal."