Jane Jacobs

Book Review: The Battle for Gotham

This book is about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs and their storied clashes, but it’s also about how those conflicts defined the city. And, threaded into that public history, it’s an account of author Roberta Gratz’s own life in New York.

At first glance, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything exemplary in the layout of Willets Point, Queens, with its jumble of auto repair shops, junkyards, and the cars, broken down and not, that litter the spaces between buildings. The city hasn’t built sidewalks there—neither has it installed sewers—so the main drag is both street and sidewalk, and the neighborhood looks…