Robert Moses and the visual dimension of physical disorder: Efforts to demonstrate urban blight in the age of slum clearance

Themis Chronopoulos

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14 Citations (Scopus)


In the 1950s, the Committee on Slum Clearance of the City of New York, headed by Robert Moses, published twenty-six site-specific slum clearance brochures. A major portion of each one of these brochures attempted to demonstrate the blighted conditions that prevailed in the area to be redeveloped. These sections included maps, statistics, descriptions, and photographs. Moses wanted to keep the texts in the brochures short and allow the photographs and the illustrations to demonstrate the shortcomings of the areas designated as slums. This article analyzes the photographs that appeared in the “Demonstration of Slum Conditions” (later renamed to “Demonstration of Blight”) section of the brochures and raises a number of questions concerning the process and the paradigm under which Moses’s slum clearance organization was operating. Both the process and the paradigm of slum clearance in New York City involved elected officials, planning commissioners, and even the judiciary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-233
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Planning History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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