(Robert Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway Plan)

There is perhaps no urban planning battle so epic as that of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses’ 1960s showdown over Moses’ proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York City. Moses, the visionary mega-planner, wanted to connect the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges to the Holland Tunnel, at the expense of long-inhabited, culturally rich downtown neighborhoods like SoHo and Little Italy. Jacobs, the Greenwich Village journalist and activist, took Moses on, and ultimately won.

Now, Fast Company reports, the dramatic story will receive the ultimate dramatic rendering: an opera. The as-yet untitled project features music by Judd Greenstein and a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy K. Smith, and will be directed by Joshua Frankel.

Fast Company explains:

The opera grapples with opposing visions of what a city should be. Moses’s ideals of a clean, orderly city where cars took priority was not unlike the model many American suburbs were built upon. Jacobs, on the other hand, embraced the messiness of urban life, preaching density and diversity of neighborhoods and arguing against top-down, high-handed methods of city planning.

It’s a story still relevant today, and perhaps even more poignant—as the opera’s creators point out, the diverse neighborhoods Jacobs saved are “now some of the world’s most expensive real estate.”

Related: City Girl
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