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Power Broker by Robert Caro – Summary & Analysis of Chapter 44

Chapter 44 – Moustache and the Bard

Robert Moses loved Shakespeare and was keen on the presentations of the plays in Central Park’s amphitheatre, one of Moses’s projects. These were put on by Joseph Papirofski, better known as Joseph Papp. These were well received presentations put on for free attracting all incomes and classes. Moses was pleased with the success. Moses said he would raise the money for a new season and his Executive Officer at the Parks Department, Stuart Constable, informed him of it. Constable however was suspicious of Papp, suspecting him of being a communist. Three months before the festival was to begin, Constable informed Papp, without consulting Moses, that there was no money to put it on.

Moses was unaware of this, but he was famous for supporting his staff. When Papp asked Moses directly, Moses sent him a letter informing him that, despite his promise, there would be no more money. Papp soon realised that the barrier to him was one of political philosophy. However, Papp was a master publicist. He went to the press on the attack. Papp used quotes from the Bard to make his case. Moses showed some respect, but still refused to overrule Constable. However, the press was on Papp’s side. Moses responded by organising behind the scenes pressure and innuendo. Moses followed Constable’s lead and accused Papp of communist sympathies. But the McCarthy era had ended in 1954 and these accusations did not have the same weight. Pub continued his literate attack. He highlighted the civilising effect of Shakespeare in the Park. He attacked Moses’s innuendos directly and he had the press on his side. It was Moses against Shakespeare.

The further erosion of Moses’s name was continuing. Moses now started to fear what was happening and this showed itself in failing health. He had started to look old. The press now wanted the decision to be reversed and started to put pressure on the Mayor. Eventually, Wagner succumbed to pressure and arranged a meeting with Moses, but emerging from that meeting, Wagner had been persuaded to support Moses.

Moses imposed new criteria for the festival, that the festival should raise their own funds. But with the help of local philanthropists, Papp overcome them and the festival went ahead. Papp was now a hero to the local liberals. By 1965, Papp’s troops were playing Shakespeare all over the city.

This battle further tipped the balance against Moses. Moses had become a villain to the public and the press. They knew that in the power struggle between the Mayor and Moses, Moses held the upper hand. The press became merciless.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • The press turns against Moses.
The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3
Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6
Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9
Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12
Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15
Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18
Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21
Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24
Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27
Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30
Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33
Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37
Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40
Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43
Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46
Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49
Chapter 50

Power Broker by Robert Caro – Summary & Analysis of Chapter 42

Chapter 42 – Tavern in the Town

This chance came when an engineer left his blueprints in a little glen in Central Park. This place was popular with mothers and children, despite being disfigured by a restaurant and carpark by one of Moses’s schemes. It was the centre of the local neighbourhood.

One day, one of the mothers saw some surveyors in the glen. After they had left she walked over and picked up a blueprint they had left behind. The blueprint was for a new carpark to be built on the glen.

When a petition was raised, some notable residents in the area added their names. One of the mothers’ husband was a reporter, who pushed the story. Initially, Moses ignored the protests and planned to go ahead with the development. Twenty-three mothers protesting about a small glen was nothing to worry about, seeing as he had already displaced thousands of mothers building his highways. The Deputy Mayor was interested however.

This protest was different. The protestors were well-heeled, including a number of lawyers, and the issue was clear-cut. A park was being torn up for a carpark serving a posh private restaurant. Central Park was special to New York, frequented by some of its most influential residents. It was also a positive symbol, championed by the press, proclaiming that every part of it was sacred. Not even Moses could convince the city that this was a good idea.

Work started in April 1956. Residents who overlooked the park noticed a bulldozer. A group of women rushed out and went to the site, stopping the earth-moving machine. Reporters and photographers arrived from many papers and media outlets. Within hours, the story was on every TV newscast. The headline became “The Battle of Central Park.” The tactics Moses was using were the tactics he had used for thirty years. But this time, the whole city was aware of it.

For Moses, things had gone far enough. The builders came back under cover of darkness. They surrounded the site with a fence and then the bulldozer arrived. By the time daylight arrived, a tree had already been felled. The women surrounded the site in tears. Papers labelled the Parks Commissioner a bully. The pictures taken were just as devastating to Moses’s reputation. Weeping women were on the front page of every newspaper, dripping of drama and pathos. On a single day, Mayor Wagner received four thousand letters. The image of Moses had been maintained for decades, but now the image was cracked. For the first time he had been portrayed not as a creator but as a destroyer.

This did not stop the work going ahead. An injunction was granted to the mothers, temporarily stopping the work. Moses was confident that this setback was purely temporary, but the lawyers were at work. Any restaurant in the park was meant to be affordable. When the prices of the new restaurant were shown to be far beyond the means of most New Yorkers, another weapon was available to thwart the plan. On top of that, the profits made by the owner of the Tavern on the Green were shown to be the result of paying minimal rent, a concession from Moses. The hint of scandal was in the air.

While Moses blithely went on holiday, the protests raged behind him. The Mayor came into the firing line. The criticism became more wide ranging. The slum clearances were highlighted. On Moses’s return he was door-stepped by the press. His temper broke. He criticised the protestors with his usual vitriol, but this time the protesters were able to respond. Worst was to come. A trial look set to go ahead and many other Moses projects were likely to be aired. For once, Moses had to back down. He hatched a plan with the city council to delay the work to let the furore die down and then offer to build a new playground rather than a car park. The Tavern on the Green fight was over, but Moses’s reputation was never to be regained.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses miscalculated the power of the mothers and the press. Robert Moses went so far as to attack the mothers of Central Park to prevent them from taking down his plans. And there was a television debate with Bob Moses where he said one of the key protesters didn’t even have children so what does she know. And that obviously backfired;
  • Political organizing was becoming a thing. This furore was a critical moment because the democratic forces were able to channel their dis-approval into the mainstream. Probably because of the race and gender of the protesters as well as the timing of liberation in the late 50s. Optics is democracy’s double-edged sword. Poorly informed but powerful in shutting down projects and progress because the flash of a camera bulb made the front pages of the broad-sheets.
The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3
Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6
Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9
Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12
Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15
Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18
Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21
Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24
Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27
Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30
Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33
Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37
Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40
Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43
Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46
Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49
Chapter 50

Power Broker by Robert Caro – Summary & Analysis of Chapter 26

Chapter 26 – Two Brothers

One person who was not impressed by Robert Moses’s success was his brother, Paul Moses. Paul always claimed that Robert had cheated him out of his inheritance. Robert’s slightly older brother shared his personality. There were however differences in their idealism. Paul, unlike his brother, wanted class distinctions eliminated, especially with regards to the black community. He was much more interested in common people.  He would also disagree with his mother, unlike Robert.

One difference looms largest of all.  Paul never went into public service. He had a job offer as a consulting engineer, but it was vetoed by Al Smith. Paul always suspected that his brother was involved. Previous to 1930, relations between the two had been friendly, but when Paul irrevocably fell out with his mother and was effectively left out of her will, the relationship changed. At the age of 43, Paul had nothing. He was also alienated by the rest of his family and would never be able to figure out why this had happened, but he would always suspect Robert’s involvement.

Whether Robert had any part in denying Paul his share of the will is unclear, but Robert’s part in denying Paul a job in public service is undeniable. It was clear to contemporary observers that Robert advised La Guardia not to employ Paul. Paul was able to secure temporary jobs but permanent positions were denied him. By 1938 he could not find anybody to employ him at all and his investment in a swimming pool complex was using all the savings he had. He became encircled by a net of debts and he was receiving next nothing from his trust fund.

His appearance changed, as did his spirit, becoming bitter and frustrated. Robert was refusing to talk to him. When Paul found out that Robert was asking to be paid for being a trustee of the funds from which Paul was receiving little or no money, Paul’s frustration turned to rage. Paul hired an attorney to challenge the operations of the trust. However, Robert arranged that the case was to be heard by a judge more favourable to himself. The case went against Paul. Paul’s feeling of injustice became an obsession. Paul turned every conversation into an assault on his brother.

During 1942, Paul became an engineer in the Navy, which rehabilitated him somewhat. After the war however, his difficulty in obtaining work resumed. Although his brother was hiring a multitude of engineers, no offer came Paul’s way. Paul lived the last ten years of his life in poverty. Paul died in 1967.

Robert’s attitude to his sister, his father and his mother in later life was similarly disparaging. He also cut off relations with his wider family. His only close family relationship was with his wife, Mary and his two children. People remarked how different Moses was at home. Mary mothered him, looking after his money and the family bills. She was hostess for his luncheons; a witty and successful one. She was Robert’s respected confidant and advisor.

As Robert gained success however, he became louder and Mary became quieter. The brighter he shone, the more Mary disappeared into the shadows. Robert still spent as much time with Mary, but she had begun to drink. She was hospitalised with alcohol and nervous problems as was to remain in the shadows.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Brother’s undermining each other is a bit weird. Accidents can be cascaded. Paul Moses was not able to get permanent work at the city because his brother undermined him. Was there something about Paul Moses that justified Robert Moses’ choices? Was Paul a drunk or something?
  • Moses is working to delay the projects that he could not be in control of. And destroyed the projects he could not control…
  • Moses was not shy about circumventing the mayor. Moses was shut out of the housing projects as retaliation;
  • Moses developed a habit of taking small institutions and turning them into a great sources of power.
The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3
Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6
Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9
Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12
Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15
Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18
Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21
Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24
Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27
Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30
Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33
Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37
Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40
Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43
Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46
Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49
Chapter 50

Power Broker by Robert Caro – Summary & Analysis of Chapter 41

Part 7 – The Loss of Power

Chapter 41 – Rumours and the Report of Rumours

Highways were only one field of Moses’s activities. There was also housing and the associated slum clearance. A few perceptive people began to see something sinister in what was going on.

In the early 1950s, Reformers had heard rumours about Moses’s clearance sites. When the Reformers visited Moses’s clearance sites they saw the disaster that was the relocation programme.  In front of some of the brownstones, large garbage cans began to appear. This meant that many more people were living in these houses than before. Neighbourhood became more racially mixed and significantly poorer, and with poverty came social problems. Good neighbourhoods were becoming slums. A repository for all the people cleared out in the wake of the new highways.

By 1953, people began to be fully aware of what was going on. If people were being hounded out of their homes, they would move to other areas, increasing the size of the slums. They felt the people should be made aware of what was going on, but their main means of communication, the press, was not interested. They were reluctant to attack Moses.

The Reformers therefore decided to do the research themselves. Statistics were difficult to come by. Moses and his colleagues had manipulated them had hidden them well. Many volunteers visited the highway sites and saw the reality of the relocation programs. Many people had been moved to buildings that were mere shells. They saw the implications for the city. New slums were being created faster than the old ones were being developed. Backed up with the research into the true statistics and plans, the true nature of the relocation plans was revealed. The researchers expected prominent display of their report in the press, but Moses and his team suppressed this. False statistics were inserted into the report. The report was issued nine months after it had been completed, with the changes added by Moses which changed the entire argument of the report. Of all the city’s press, only the New York Post published the report. It was never mentioned in the press again.

However, a commission was set up in late 1954 to investigate the sales of $15M worth of real-estate to one of Moses’s preferred partners for $1M. On investigation it was found that far from being demolished, the apartments were being kept open and rented out. A network of collusion was uncovered where everybody involved in the project was getting rich, and this was only one of many contracts. A normal press investigation would have blazed this all over the city. But the press, still enamoured with Moses, kept his name out of it. Not one investigative reporter was put on the story. As late as 1956, the protests to the plans was still an underground movement. The legend of Moses would have to be tarnished before a real change could occur.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses was able to control the press in order to suppress the story.
  • Corruption requires a network.
The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3
Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6
Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9
Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12
Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15
Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18
Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21
Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24
Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27
Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30
Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33
Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37
Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40
Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43
Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46
Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49
Chapter 50

Power Broker by Robert Caro – Summary & Analysis of Chapter 27

Chapter 27 – Changing

Power and Personality – Interplay.

Moses now started to seek power for its own sake. In 1936, the New York City Tunnel Authority was established to build a Queens Mid-town tunnel. Moses asked to be a member but received no support from La Guardia and as a public official was ineligible. Moses persisted to get appointed but failed. He therefore resolved to destroy it.

The Mid-town tunnel experienced delays which threatened the necessary funding. Moses worked to delay it further by keeping the enabling bill stuck in committee. Most contemporaries thought that Moses tried to destroy the project purely because it was a challenge to his power. This revealed the lengths Moses would go to gain control.

As Federal housing funding became available, Moses hastily made up his own housing plans. The vast power involved attracted Moses. Moses circumvented the Mayor and presented his housing program directly to potential investors and the media, a program that conflicted with the Mayor’s own. However, a copy of the plan had fallen into La Guardia’s hands. As Moses was supposedly broadcasting his program to a large audience, La Guardia had cut him off the air. La Guardia also ensured that the Housing Committee rejected all Moses’s plans. Moses did not receive any of the housing projects.

La Guardia then moved to reduce Moses’s power in parks and transportation. The Mayor started to try to channel Moses’s energy into other areas of public works. However, Moses had always been skilled in taking a small institution and turning it into a source of great power. He was now to turn his mind to the institution known as the Public Authority.

Analysis & Key Takeaways
  • Moses gained equal status with La Guardia through various means.
The Power Broker is a Pulitzer Prize Winner
Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3
Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6
Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9
Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12
Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15
Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18
Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21
Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24
Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27
Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30
Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33
Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37
Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40
Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43
Chapter 44Chapter 45Chapter 46
Chapter 47Chapter 48Chapter 49
Chapter 50