(Rebecca Mead’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 3/26; illustration: from The New Yorker.)

How David Hare took a few Moses-esque liberties when writing “Straight Line Crazy,” which partly drew upon Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” and stars Ralph Fiennes.

In 1965, when David Hare, the British playwright, was eighteen, he visited New York City for the first time. He prowled the Village, hoping to bump into Bob Dylan, and spent time hanging out in Washington Square. “It was exactly as it is now—it was always people with guitars, people playing chess, mothers with baby carriages,” he said recently. At the time, Hare was unaware that a few years earlier a battle had been fought over the integrity of Washington Square Park, with Robert Moses, the ambitious mid-century urban planner who aimed to drive Fifth Avenue traffic straight through the square, pitted against a coalition of neighborhood activists including Jane Jacobs, who was to become the author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”

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