Streams

Robert C. Weinberg

Urban planning pioneer and WNYC commentator from 1966 to 1971.

As a boy, he watched intently from his grandmother’s window as one of Manhattan’s great apartment houses was being built.  It was a fascination that became his calling in life—a devotion to design, architecture, city planning and preservation.  Robert Weinberg, born in 1902, New York City bred, Harvard educated, went on to become an architect, leader of community organizations and city planner.

In fact, he was a pioneer in the profession of city planning, a fledgling profession in the 1930s. In this capacity he was often at odds with his aggressive and politically powerful contemporary, Robert Moses. As an architect-planner in a Moses-appointed job at the City’s Department of Parks, Weinberg’s plans were outside the regimented norm and his job was removed from the budget. But he remained steadfast in his principles and continued to work at improving urban and suburban design. 

He created a program in City Planning at New York University.  He taught courses in planning and related fields at the Pratt Institute, the New School for Social Research and Yale.  He exerted his influence through professional and good government groups, such as the American Institute of Architects and the Citizens Union. He went to Chicago where he worked with the Chicago Housing Authority and to Cleveland to work for the Planning Commission..

He was an ardent supporter of city park land.  Returning to New York, he was devoted to saving Washington Square Park through active membership in the Washington Square Association, the Greenwich Village Association and the Local Planning Board. He investigated every inch of the Park’s design, the paving materials, borders, plaza. A colleague wrote that Washington Square Park “was a living reminder of Bob Weinberg’s participation in its being.”*

From 1966 to 1971 Robert Weinberg gave voice to his views and knowledge in a series of radio reports on WNYC, New York’s municipal station.  He talked about issues from landmarks to parkways, from zoning to new construction and all matters in between that came under his sharp scrutiny.

Throughout his career he believed in the important role of the professional—the architect, designer, city planner.  Though he was devoted to the principles of modern architecture he often assumed the role of protector of the historic past.  Protecting a building or neighborhood, however, was not to be based on aesthetics alone but on considering the useful future of that building or neighborhood.

Robert Weinberg was a prolific writer, an author of books and articles. He sent out a steady barrage of book reviews and letters of opinion, condemnation and congratulation.  He was a collector of material—documents, brochures, association minutes, catalogues, articles--all pertaining to his passion--improving the efficiency and quality of life.  His collection of papers (more than 50,000 documents) embodies the early history of city planning and brings to life one of its most ardent and dedicated leaders.

This biography courtesy of Janet Marks and the Long Island University Brooklyn Campus Library Archives.

Shows:

Robert C. Weinberg appears in the following:

Montefiore's Sleek New Tower

Thursday, January 04, 1968

Weinberg comments on the tower as a form of architectural concept. He discusses the Chicago Tribune building, the work of Eliel Saarinen, the American Radiator Tower, the Pan-Hellenic Tower, and the new Montefiore Hospital tower.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150085
Municipal archives ...

Comment

Encouraging Outdoor Dining

Tuesday, January 02, 1968

Weinberg discusses outdoor dining and sidewalk eating regulations in New York City.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150061
Municipal archives id: T1962

Comment

St. Brendan’s Church

Thursday, December 28, 1967

Weinberg discusses additions to St. Brendan’s Church at East 207th Street and Perry Avenue in the Bronx. The work was done by the firm of by Belfatto and Paverini.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150069
Municipal archives id: T1950

Comment

Pepsi Cola on the Move

Tuesday, December 26, 1967

Weinberg discusses the Pepsi-Cola Co. building at 59th St. and Park Ave. He talks about the new headquarters being built in Westchester County in Harrison, New York and how major businesses in general are leaving the city for the suburbs. Weinberg thinks that there hasn't been proper planning for when ...

Comment

That Little Church around the Corner

Thursday, December 21, 1967

Description of renovation of Christian Science Church, Macdougal St., Greenwich Village


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150043
Municipal archives id: T1959

Comment

Relocating Cooper Union's Museum

Tuesday, December 19, 1967

Weinberg discusses the relocation of Cooper Union's Museum of the Decorative Arts (now called The Cooper-Hewitt Museum) from Astor Place to the Carnegie Mansion of 5th Avenue and 90th Street.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150047
Municipal archives id: T1937

Comment

Korvette's Herald Square

Thursday, December 14, 1967

On Around New York, Robert C. Weinberg discusses the Korvette Department Store on Herald Square. He praises the project for giving a "new skin" and a new purpose to a sturdy existing building. "This makes for a very handsome appearance on the outside, one that gives lift and liveliness to ...

Comment

Curbing the Highway Men

Tuesday, December 12, 1967

Commentary on the planning of highways and the state legislation on highway construction.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150049
Municipal archives id: T1967

Comment

Ford Foundation

Thursday, December 07, 1967

Commentary on the Ford Foundation's new building designed by architect Kevin Roche.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150051
Municipal archives id: T1952

Comment

Regional Planning Association Annual Conference

Tuesday, December 05, 1967

Weinberg reports on the Regional Planning Association's Annual Conference. He notes the large number of attendees and the notable figures that attended the conference. Topics include the location of affordable housing and highway traffic patterns.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150066
Municipal archives ...

Comment

Open Space Protests

Thursday, November 23, 1967

On Around New York, Robert C. Weinberg comments on recent activism to preserve natural open spaces that have been planned for highway construction across New York state. He discusses a student protest at City College, the Bronx River Parkway, dirt roads in Bedford and outcries at highway beatification conferences. According ...

Comment

Robert C. Weinberg on Daniel P. Moynihan.

Tuesday, November 21, 1967

Robert C. Weinberg reports:

"Architecture in a time of trouble", a speech by Daniel Patrick Moynihan to alumni of Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Moynihan heads MIT-Harvard Institute for Advanced Studies. He said in his speech: "urban design affects atmosphere of the slums".

Comment

Jefferson Market Library

Friday, November 17, 1967

Commentary concerning the turning of Jefferson Market Courthouse, Greenwich Village into New York Public Library's Jefferson Branch Library.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150048
Municipal archives id: T1955

Comment

The Civic Center Synagogue

Thursday, November 16, 1967

Robert Weinberg discusses William Braeger's new Civic Center Synagogue on 49 White Street, New York, NY.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150046
Municipal archives id: T1945

Comment

Storefront Churches Resurrected

Wednesday, November 15, 1967

Weinberg comments on various attempts in poor areas to rehabilitate buildings
for churches. He talks mostly about architect Victor Lundy's Church of the Resurrection located at 325 east 101st street. Weinberg calls the church's angularity striking. He also likes the bright paintings and the skylight inside the church.


Audio ...

Comment

Lincoln Center Revisited: Getting There and Back

Tuesday, November 14, 1967

On Around New York, Robert C. Weinberg continues his commentary on the Lincoln Center. He criticizes the lack of planning for public and private transportation for a cultural complex that may accommodate 10 to 12 thousand patrons on a single night. The available buses do not run late enough to ...

Comment

New Church Structures next to Old

Thursday, November 09, 1967

In this segment of Around New York, Robert C. Weinberg discusses new church buildings that compliment the main historic structure. He highlights an addition to the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street by architect Edgar Tafel. He asserts that this building is successful because, "it in no ...

Comment

Lincoln Center Revisitied

Tuesday, November 07, 1967

On this episode of Around New York with Robert C. Weinberg, "Lincoln Center Revisited," the host gives an updated commentary on newly opened and remodeled buildings at the Lincoln Center

Comment

Sculpture in Our Streets

Thursday, November 02, 1967

Weinberg discusses sculpture in our streets. He especially enjoys the William Tart sculpture at the entrance of the The New School. Weinberg likes how the sculpture complements the New School building. He think that people need to carefully consider where sculpture is placed in public environments.


Audio courtesy of the ...

Comment

Museum of Modern Art Symposium On Transportation Graphics

Tuesday, October 31, 1967

Weinberg reports on a transportation graphic design symposium at MoMA. He talks about the subway system of Milan, Montreal, and Boston. (Note: audio low levels / poor quality).


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 150077
Municipal archives id: T1957

Comment