There are probably as many opinions about Robert Moses as there are cars that drive on the Cross Bronx Expressway within the period of a week. He’s credited for this, blamed for that, who to believe? Everyone has an opinion, I penned mine about two years ago, but instead of hearing what I or anyone else has to say about Moses, why not hear the man speak himself. The links below are a collection of interviews Robert Moses did that can be found in various places on the web. They give you a chance to listen to the man himself, in his own words.
1977 WNET Interview – This interview by Robert Sam Anson is particularly good. You get to see both the charming and the angry sides of Moses. You see how quickly he can turn from one to the other.
Moses explains that you can’t build public transportation because too many people are against it, but also tells Anson that nobody ‘really’ is against a Manhattan expressway that he thinks should be built. Anson does a good job of pressing Moses at times but letting him have his way at others, staying on his good side but also keeping some direction with the interview. At the very end Moses suggests they go out and get ‘something to eat,’ wonder what they got. (One Hour by Robert Sam Anson) .
1973 Don Swaim Interview with Moses – Swaim himself admits to not having the deepest knowledge of political history, but he does ask Moses some good questions about his mentor Al Smith and others in his life. Interesting that Moses calls David Rockefeller a friend despite the fact that Moses was ousted of power by Rockefeller. Once again the Manhattan expressway topic comes up and once again Moses gets very impatient when it does. (40 Minutes by Don Swaim)
1953 Longines Chronoscope Interview – A younger Moses states that the country is desperately behind in terms of road building. It’s probably something he would have said at any point in time. The interview serves as a chance for Moses to make a petition for more roads, and he is never asked about any needs for public transportation. (15 Minutes by William Bradford Huie and Hardy Burt)
1961 Worlds Fair Interview – from about 7:15 – 9:45 on the vieo. It’s a publicity piece but any time you can see Moses speak is still interesting. At about the nine minute point you can hear a plane flying over from LaGuardia airport, something familiar to all Met’s fans. It’s basically Moses trying to look important during Worlds Fair preparations, he can’t stay long, he has to go to work on the fair. (2 1/2 Minutes by John Tillman)
If anyone else knows of links where Moses is interviewed directly let me know. Love him or hate him, listening to him speak is still an interesting experience.
One thing I noticed, (and I don’t believe it is mentioned in any biography), is how often Moses’ clears his throat. He does it constantly in all of these interviews. Another thing Swaim writes about, and is also obvious in the Anson interview as well is how restless he is in his chair. I wont say any more, the rest is for you to observe on your own.