Swinging pendulums are often used metaphors for social and political movements, probably because they are so appropriate. I thought about this swing while looking through the Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Moses epic biography titled Power brokerwritten by Robert Caro in 1975.
It is a stunning story, spanning 1,200 pages of fine print, of how one man, a deeply mistaken genius, reshaped the landscape of New York and its environs by building hundreds of parks, large and small, hundreds of miles of highway. and thousands of acres of swamp and dung filled up for future construction.
The arc of his own life went from the Yale-educated Reform virtue fighting the corrupt political machine of Tammany Hall before World War I to the ruthless destroyer of the poor neighborhoods that stood in the way of his dream of moving endless streams of cars with maximum efficiency. around bridges and villages.
At first he was proclaimed a man who brings rural beauty to the masses, and he could not do anything wrong. His power grew with the ingratiation of the press. No mayor, governor, or even President Franklin D. Roosevelt dared to stand in his way. President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked him to help build the interstate highway system.
And then the pendulum swung. By the time Caro published his book, Moses was 85 years old and the world had changed. His legacy has morphed into one of the ugly urban disasters caused by the relentless disregard for the real people living among his creations.
In 1963, it was decided that Santa Fe needed a high-speed north-south corridor to ease congestion in the city center. St Francis Drive was named US 84/285 and crashed into the heart of the historic district, splitting the city in two. About 120 homes were bought and bulldozed between West Alameda and Cerrillos Road. Remains of the property were convicted and residents were evicted. No disputes and no stops.
But the pendulums are swinging and we are now looking to develop the downtown campus and surrounding areas. Neither Mayor Alan Webber nor his designated downtown manager, Daniel Hernandez, are modern versions of Robert Moses.
Moses has always been a government employee and has never been a private developer, but he thought and acted as one, and this is where our government officials fail us today.
Recent “My View” column in New mexican UNM professor of architecture Michelle Pride, director of the Design and Planning Assistance Center, touted the contract the city had awarded to engage a previously uninterested public in what needs to be done in the city center.
Until now, most commentators have been older, wealthier, and not Hispanic. Their opinion has largely spurred the city’s desire for affordable housing, education, commercial filmmaking, offices, shops, restaurants, public parks and improved traffic. Sounds great. But due to imbalanced demographics, an equity gap is assumed.
So, we have hired professional people with experience in soliciting the opinions of those who are younger, poorer, and Hispanics. Okay, these voices need to be heard. But what do we really expect them to say otherwise? But what if they come to the conclusion that they need to do something radically different? Will this be a new direction for development?
Interaction is a means, but an end in itself. Development is very different. He is purposeful and ruthless. He sticks to a plan with a start, a middle, and an end. It does not change opinions. It stays on budget and ends on time.
Robert Moses, in his prime, would have threatened to quit smoking and leave. Panic politicians never called him a bluff because they needed him, his drive, and his proven ability to “get things done.” The developer we had chosen left and we let him go. In the meantime, we will continue to interact.
Kim Shanahan has been building green Santa Fe since 1986. sustainable development consultant since 2019. Contact him on email@example.com…