August 1st, 2019
If nothing else, our Daily creates an opportunity to make progress on the next issue of the Quarterly. Since January of 2018, I had this idea in mind: that I would read Robert Caro's The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974), and begin to make sense of the expressways; for instance, the Cross-Bronx and the Brooklyn-Queens, which tore apart neighborhoods; as well as the housing projects, created in the name of Urban Renewal, which resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
For Issue No. 3 - Winter 2017-18's Prospectus, I considered Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities in contrast to Caro's book on Moses. For Issue No. 4 - Summer 2018's Prospectus, I took a walk along the Henry Hudson Parkway, by way of Riverside Park, just to see what it would feel like to walk along a space and a project that Mr. Moses himself held so near and dear to his heart. For Issues Nos. 5 and 6, I alluded to the book, and surrendered to the fact that I ran out of time to really sink into the ideas that I wanted to sink into from Caro's book.
Now, for Issue No. 7 - Autumn 2019, which will launch in forty-four days; through the Daily, at least, I can start making headway toward what I want to say about The Power Broker, which I finished this past April. When I look back over the fifty chapters, and flip through the 1,162 pages; there's one paragraph which appears in Section IV "The Use of Power," and holds the space at the very end of Chapter 11, "The Majesty of the Law," that I keep going back to.
"It had been more than a year since Robert Moses had announced his revised and broadened park and parkway plan, a plan which had, after all, included parks and parkways not only on Long Island but throughout the rest of New York State, along the Niagra Frontier, in the Genesee Valley, in the farmland of the Taconic region, and among the peaks of the Alleghenies, Catskills and Adirondacks. Now, more than a year later, parks and parkways were still located nowhere but in the map of Moses' imaginations. After all the talking, all the planning, all the fighting, they simply didn't exist. And at the end of 1925, there seemed little possibility that they would come into existence at any time in the foreseeable future. If one looked ahead a decade, even a generation, it seemed unlikely that any substantial part of the dream would be reality.
Within three years, almost all of it would be reality."
I remember reading those two paragraphs ––– the second, of course, made up of only one sentence for dramatic effect, late at night in my office this past February, and feeling deeply inspired. How? I thought. If Moses' most prized dream was the Henry Hudson Parkway, which, eventually was built, and built in a manner that forever deprived New York, New York of several miles of its most-prized space near the Hudson River, then how, years earlier, had he also managed to exert his will across Long Island, making way for the Southern State Parkway, the Northern State Parkway, and the Cross Island Parkway, just to name a few.
And what, if anyything, could I take from the power of this man's vision; how deeply he cherished his dreams, even if those dreams resulted in disasters. And what about the dream, my dream, for Curlew New York and for Curlew Quarterly, and for writing residencies, and for a thriving literary journal supported by a real estate brokerage. I remember thinking: "If one looked ahead a decade, even a generation, it seemed unlikely that any substantial part of the dream would be a reality. Within three years, almost all of it would be reality."
- Isaac Myers III