Robert Moses was New York City’s “Master Builder”, a force of nature that transformed the built environment and the lives of millions of New Yorkers. When Moses came to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1959, he intended to level the area known as “Cooper Square” in the name of urban renewal. Little did Moses know that he would meet his match in the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) and in Frances Goldin, the committee’s tenacious co-founder.
The CSC and its multi-ethnic motley crew of radicals, shopkeepers, artists and housewives were different than other organizations that had fought urban renewal. Using an innovative mix of community organizing and urban planning, the Committee not only opposed the Moses plan but emerged with it’s own: The Alternate Plan for Cooper Square. The guiding principle of the plan was that urban renewal should benefit, not displace, existing residents of Cooper Square.