Robert Weinberg (urban planner)

Robert Charles Weinberg (1902–1974) was an American architect and urban planner. He is mostly known for his projects in his native New York City, particularly relating to parks. He also worked in Chicago and Cleveland.

Robert Weinberg
Born1902 (1902)
Died1974 (aged 71–72)
OccupationArchitect, urban planner

Early life and educationEdit

Robert Charles Weinberg was born in New York City in 1902.[1][2]

Weinberg attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. He earned a B.A. degree from the Harvard School of Architecture in 1926 and another degree (noted as a second B.A. or a graduate degree in different sources) from the Harvard School of City Planning in 1931.[3][4]


Weinberg was hired by the newly formed New York City Parks Department in 1934. Previously, each of the city's five boroughs had its own independent parks department. These were consolidated in 1934, with Robert Moses serving as the commissioner.[5]

Weinberg and Moses often disagreed on their philosophies of designing parks. Weinberg believed that parks should be customized to the neighborhood, while Moses preferred a more uniform design for all parks.[1][4] From the late 1930s through the early 1950s, Weinberg was part of the coalition opposing a number of renovation plans for Washington Square Park that were supported by Moses. These efforts culminated in the park being closed to vehicles in 1958.[6]

In 1939, Weinberg joined the New York Department of City Planning. Robert Moses was responsible for Weinberg's departure from the department in 1941.[4]

From 1966 to 1971, he was a commentator and architecture critic at WNYC radio, where he discussed a variety of topics related to city planning during twice-weekly talks.[1][4]

Although mainly known for his work in New York, he also did work for the Chicago Housing Authority and the Cleveland Planning Commission.[1]

He was known for designing the Vinmont Houses in the Riverdale area of The Bronx.[3] He had plans to build 340 low-income housing units on another nearby plot of land he owned in Riverdale. That project failed to get approval, and the plot was eventually sold to the USSR to build a residential compound for diplomats and their families.[7]

Preservationist activitiesEdit

Weinberg was instrumental in preserving the Jefferson Market Courthouse building in the 1960s. Built in 1876, it was vacant by 1950 and slated to be demolished. A preservation drive by local residents led to the formation of The Committee for a Library in the Courthouse, with Weinberg convincing the New York Public Library to adopt the building. It is now the Jefferson Market Library.[8]

Weinberg was also a member of the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York (AGBANY) in the early 1960s. The group was most known for working to preserve the original Pennsylvania Station building designed by McKim, Mead & White. The effort was unsuccessful and the building was demolished in 1963.[9]

Academic, civic, and professional affiliationsEdit

Weinberg was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and chair of the institute's Joint Committee on Design Control.[3][4] He served as the book review editor for the Journal of the American Institute of Planners from 1947 to 1959 and was the chair of their New York Regional Chapter.[4][10]

Weinberg was an adjunct professor at New York University, where he created a program in City Planning.[1][3] He also taught at the Pratt Institute, the New School for Social Research, and at Yale.[1]

He was a member of the Municipal Art Society,[11] using his position there to advocate for landmarks preservation via the Bard Act.[4][12]


The name Weinberg is German for "Wine Mountain", which translates to "Vinmont" in French. The Vinmont section of Riverdale, Vinmont Road, Vinmont Houses, and Vinmont Veteran Park all trace their names to Weinberg in this way.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Weinberg died in 1974.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Robert C. Weinberg". WNYC: New York Public Radio. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Vinmont Veteran Park". City of New York. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Robert Weinberg, Regional Planner". The New York Times. January 26, 1974. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "The New York Preservation Archive Project: Robert C. Weinberg". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  5. ^ "Robert Moses and the Modern Park System (1929–1965) : Online Historic Tour : NYC Parks". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "54 Years Since Washington Square Park Officially Closed to Traffic". Washington Square Park Blog. April 5, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  7. ^ "A quiet giant, hiding in North Riverdale history". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  8. ^ "About the Jefferson Market Library". The New York Public Library. Retrieved September 14, 2020.; "Committee for a Library in the Courthouse". The New York Preservation Archive Project. Retrieved September 14, 2020.; "Jefferson Market Courthouse". The New York Preservation Archive Project. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  9. ^ "Action Group for Better Architecture in New York". The New York Preservation Archive Project. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "Commendation to Robert C. Weinberg". Journal of the American Institute of Planners. 25 (4): 231. November 1, 1959. doi:10.1080/01944365908978340. ISSN 0002-8991.
  11. ^ Wood, Anthony C. (2008). Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks. Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-1-136-76608-4.
  12. ^ ""The New York Preservation Archive Project: Bard Act (1956)". Retrieved September 14, 2020.

External linksEdit