In the 1970s, New York City hit rock bottom. Crime was at its highest, the middle class exodus was in high gear, and bankruptcy loomed. Many people credit New Yorks master builder Robert Moses with turning Gotham around, despite his brutal, undemocratic. and demolition-heavy ways. Urban critic and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz contradicts this conventional view. New York City, Gratz argues, recovered precisely because of the waning power of Moses. His decline in the late 1960s and the drying up of big government funding for urban renewal projects allowed New York to organically regenerate according to the precepts defined by Jane Jacobs in her classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and in contradiction to Mosess urban philosophy. As American cities face a devastating economic crisis, Jacobss philosophy is again vital for the redevelopment of metropolitan life. Gratz who was named as one of Planetizens Top 100 Urban Thinkers gives an on-the-ground account of urban renewal and community success.
Roberta Brandes Gratz is an award-winning journalist, urban critic, and author of the acclaimed book "The Living City." Her articles have appeared in the "Wall Street Journal," "New York Times Magazine," "The Nation," "Tikkun," "Planning Magazine," and the "Daily News," among others. She lives in New York City.