Lillian Edelstein (1916-2015) was a Jewish Housewife living in East Tremont in The Bronx. Her home and the home of her mother and sister’s family were in the proposed path of the Cross Bronx highway proposed by Robert Moses. She became an activist after realizing the highway would destroy her neighborhood and change the lives of people she loved forever.
Most of the families in East Tremont were Jewish immigrants escaping persecution in Europe. East Tremont was considered a step up from living in the Lower East side. The homes were well sized and the people of the neighborhood were close. Robert Moses considered it a slum and decided to run a highway through it. Lillian organized her neighbors, contacted council members and even worked with an engineer and planner to show that there could be a different and straighter path through the Bronx that would destroy fewer homes and leave more greenspace. She was able to get a small bit of press and raise some funds for legal papers to postpone the destruction of the homes, but eventually was bulldozed by the machine that was Robert Moses and his tactics. Even the mayor had promised to support them was eventually bullied into the path Moses wanted. The East Tremont families were forced from their homes with little compensation or assistance on relocation.
The worst part: The area sat bulldozed and crime ridden as the highway was postponed multiple times destroying a vibrant area of the Bronx and dissecting the neighborhood forever. Ms. Edelstein and her family eventually left New York City spending time in Massachusetts and New Jersey. You can read more about her in the Robert Moses biography “The Power Broker”.