Rexford Guy Tugwell and the Case for Big Urbanism

If you know just one story about urban planning, it’s probably the one about Jane Jacobs’s grassroots campaign to block Robert Moses’s plan for an expressway through Greenwich Village. But history offers an alternative to that symbolic, reductive battle. In the work of New York City’s first planning commissioner, Rex Tugwell, we see the possibility of fighting bureaucratic urbanism not from below, but from above.

New York City’s first planning commissioner lost a bigger battle against Robert Moses than the fight Jane Jacobs won.




  • Belmont Freeman
  • Aaron Rothman
  • Alan Thomas

Belmont Freeman

Belmont Freeman is a columnist for Places. He is principal of Belmont Freeman Architects, an award-winning design firm in New York City.

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Aaron Rothman

Aaron Rothman is an artist and writer whose work explores contemporary issues in landscape.

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David Heymann

David Heymann is a columnist for Places. He is an architect, and the Harwell Hamilton Harris Regents Professor in Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin.

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Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas is a columnist for Places. He is Editorial Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago Press and a photographer specializing in urban landscape.

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