8. NYC Pocket Parks & Playgrounds

To give you a sense of the number of playgrounds Robert Moses built, there were 119 in the city when he became Parks Commissioner in 1934. In 1960 at the end of his tenure, here were 777. According to the article “The Politics of the Playground” in the academic journal ARQ, “Under Moses’s responsibility, between 1934 and 1960, the city achieved to add an average of one new playground every two weeks.”

Through logical and crafty ways, Moses actively sought to increase the city’s parklands. As the New York Post describes,

Also nearly forgotten are Moses’ efforts as the city’s first parks commissioner to secure its disappearing parcels of open space. When Depression-era playgrounds consisted of empty plots of dirt, Moses would travel around New York to identify and obtain, in imaginative ways, the land we use for recreation.

This included transferring under-utilized city-owned property to his Parks Department, searching property records to discover plots the city forgot it owned, working to forgive back taxes and buying land on the cheap by using money stored in forgotten trust funds and even obtaining grants of church property from Cardinal Hayes.

Next, read the flip side: 5 Things in NYC We Can Blame on Robert Moses