Robert Moses Seized Political Power Through the New York State Council of Parks

Although Robert Moses began his career as an idealistic reformer, he wrote a bill that gave himself far-reaching powers through the New York State Council of Parks and the Long Island Park Commission. A close confidant of Governor Al Smith, Robert Moses pushed his idea of a park system of an unprecedented scale and wrote the bill, essentially appointing himself as the chairmen and president.

By way of these two organizations, Robert Moses had the power to appropriate land (previously unheard of), the authority to decide on parkways (hence the “park” in the term “parkway”), and control over the budget for individual parks to consolidate control. What’s more, it would be incredibly difficult to remove him—the position was a 6 year term (the governorship is 2 years) and the process for removal was extensive.

In one fell swoop, Robert Moses consolidated real power to do what he wanted, how he wanted, with whom he wanted.