African American Studies | Ethnic Studies | Health and Physical Education | Kinesiology | Leisure Studies | Public Health | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Sports Management | Sports Sciences | Sports Studies | Tourism and Travel | Urban Studies and Planning


Who was Robert Moses? In this article, we want to cast a bright light on Robert Moses as a visionary urban planner, which included the comprehensive planning of the outdoor and indoor aquatic infrastructure for New York City. Second, we want to highlight some of his administration's significant accomplishments and challenges in providing aquatics opportunities for diverse populations, including people of color. Finally, we aspire to illustrate what happens when officials with power and authority in local government are permitted to operate without scrutiny and are unbeholden to a meaningful series of checks and balances. Robert Moses’ tenure as a 40-year-plus appointed public official highlighted the need for accountability in public service. During his expansive career, Moses held more than 12 bureaucratic appointments, sometimes concurrently, allowing him to drive his infrastructure development agenda funded by the WPA mercurially. His herculean list of accomplishments included parks, highways, 11 large swimming pools, civic centers, sports stadiums, 13 bridges, 658 playgrounds, 416 miles of parkway, 150,000 units of public housing, and the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which cost in today's economy approximately $150 billion (Adiv, 2015). One of the central jewels in the crown of his accomplishments was the planning, design, and construction of the outdoor and indoor swimming infrastructure of New York City. Unfortunately, many of Moses' achievements were overshadowed by allegations of racial politics, a lack of accountability for his decisions and policy actions, and reports of his disdain for blacks, Puerto Ricans, and low-income people. He was also called dictatorial, power-hungry, and vindictive during his long tenure in public service. Moses was rebuked for his lack of inclusion in planning processes and making resource allocation decisions based on the racial composition of a community.