Theses Master's

Cross-Bronx, Trans-Manhattan: Preserving a Significant Urban Expressway and Its Megastructure

Caratzas, Michael Dimitrios

Urban superhighways have long been seen as enemies of preservation and neighborhood conservation efforts. But with many now topping or approaching 50 years of age, the time has come for preservationists and planners to reconsider these immense engineering works, many of which are historically and aesthetically significant products of the modern era and important components of the contemporary urban experience. This paper seeks to broaden the scope of historic preservation to include post-World War II urban limited-access highways by establishing the significance of the Cross-Bronx Expressway (1945-64), one of the most controversial projects of New York City public works guru Robert Moses, and one of his last. Examined are the history and design of the highway and of the "accidental megastructure" complex atop the adjacent Trans-Manhattan Expressway, consisting of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station (1963) and Bridge Apartments (1964), and "View from the Road" analysis is carried out to document the aesthetics of the Cross-Bronx from the driver's point of view. Also looked at is the expressway's long-term impact on the East Tremont neighborhood in the central Bronx, which it passes through. A framework for planning the preservation of the Cross-Bronx and the Trans-Manhattan megastructure is provided, as are recommendations for interpreting the history and culture of the highway and its adjacent neighborhoods for local residents and for motorists. This paper is intended for use by highway engineers and planners, and others with design control over the Cross-Bronx and similar urban expressways, which have gone largely unappreciated as historic resources; preservationists and others nationally and internationally who are interested in understanding the design, historic significance, and important features of post-World War II urban superhighways and megastructures, and in promoting their preservation; and residents of neighborhoods through which historic expressways pass.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Clark, Carol A.
Sclar, Elliott
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2012