Robert Moses & the Battle of Washington Square


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February 26, 1958, Vol. III, No. 18

The Battle of Washington Square

Last week-end it looked as if the major engagement in the Battle of Washington Square was on in earnest. Leading the anti-Village forces was that practically invincible figure in New York civic affairs, Robert Moses. In response, the Village began to marshal its own force, which Mr. Moses has come to learn is considerable.

Word had got out on Thursday night that the Parks Department had requested the Board of Estimate to give its approval to a “map providing for realignment of two widely split, narrow roadways which were totally inadequate to serve as an extension of Fifth Avenue through the park.” Chairman Anthony Dapolito had that night informed his fellow members on the Local Planning Board that the Parks Department would make an attempt to put through its request for a 48-foot depressed roadway at a meeting of the Board of Estimate on the following Wednesday (today). This information had been given to Mr. Dapolito by Stuart Constable, Parks Department executive officer. Subsequent investigation indicated that there had been no mistake, and that this was actually the case.

Earlier in the week the Greenwich Village Association, under its chairman J.G.L. Molloy, decided to carry the fight for the Square directly to Mayor Wagner. Mr. Molloy, expressing the views of the GVA, asked the Mayor to close off Washington Square Park to all traffic. He asked also that the Mayor allow him and a representative committee of citizens to come to City Hall to state the Village case…

As of the hour this newspaper went to press, there had been no further developments on the Square. If a retreat on the part of the Parks Department has actually taken place, no one familiar with city affairs thinks it is more than a strategic, and probably momentary, withdrawal. The Parks Department holds one curious card. By its own admission, it will continue to allow the Square to deteriorate until it, the Parks Department, gets the traffic arteries it wants!!!

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