4. Attempts to Fight Suburban Flight

Robert Moses may have been rather cavalier about uprooting lower-income neighborhoods to put in highways like the Cross-Bronx Expressway but many of his building policies were aimed at fighting suburban flight and keeping middle-class residents in New York City. Even the public pool initiative was intended as a physical manifestation of middle-class values. The New York Times noted in 2007 that “Projects like [East River Park and Riverside Park], in which Moses sought to weave a densely populated metropolis into a broader regional network animated by the freedom of the open road, sprang from a heartfelt populist agenda.”

Stuyvesant Town, though often overshadowed for its exclusionary racial policies (subject to some revisionism and reanalysis a decade ago) and out of context design, provided middle class housing for over 25,000 residents (while requiring the eviction of 11,000 in the former Gas House District). The unique public-private financing became a model for later developments, although Stuyvesant Town is now fully private, with New York City funding for affordable units.