From the B&T Archive: The Robert Moses Building

Robert Moses is one of New York's most iconic figures. Moses left his mark throughout the metropolitan area, but one piece of history located on Randalls Island seems to fly under the radar: the Robert Moses Building, constructed in 1937.

The Robert Moses Building, originally simply called "the Administration Building," was built next to what was then the Triborough Bridge (now the Robert F. Kennedy) on Randall's Island in 1937. The small limestone building was meant to be the center of operations for the bridge but it soon became a major base of operations for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and its former Chairman, Robert Moses.

The Manhattan toll plaza was originally adjacent to the building. An enclosed walkway bridge led directly to a row of toll booths flanked by art deco towers, one of which is seen in the first photo.

When the bridge's traffic junction on Randall's Island was expanded in 1969 to handle increased traffic, the Manhattan toll plaza was moved west and the Bronx toll plaza was moved south of its original location. The number of toll booths was more than tripled during this expansion and the tall, stately art deco towers were demolished.

The architect of the 1937 building, Aymar Embury II, was on Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann's team for many projects including the Triborough and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges.

Later additions to the old Administration Building included a large room added in 1966 to display Moses' many models, artist renderings, maps and charts. These included models of some of Moses' most famous never-built projects, including the Mid-Manhattan Expressway, the Brooklyn Battery Bridge and the Long Island Sound Crossing.

After Moses retired, the model room was turned into office space and the models were moved to various locations, including storage space beneath the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge roadway. The models were moved from the dank storage area beneath the bridge in the late 1980s and are housed in MTA Bridges and Tunnels' Special Archive at 2 Broadway.

The Administration Building on Randall's Island was renamed the Robert Moses Building in 1989 to honor the former Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Chairman.

Photos are exclusive property of MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive and cannot be used without permission.

The Robert Moses Buildin 1937
The "Administration Building," now the Robert Moses Building, shortly after it was completed in 1937. At left is one of the two art deco towers that flanked the original Manhattan toll plaza at the then Triborough Bridge.
Photographer: Richard Averill Smith. Circa 1937.
Randall's Island aerial view, 1940
Aerial view of the original traffic junction on Randall's Island. The Administration Building is next to the toll plaza at the lower right.
Photographer: Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc. N. Y. C. Circa 1940.

Robert Moses in his office

Robert Moses in his office in the 1950s or early 1960s. A large photograph of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge is between two windows that disappeared when the building was expanded in the mid 1960s.
Photographer unknown.

New TBTA trucks, 1936

New TBTA trucks outside the new Robert Moses building.
Photographer unknown Circa 1936.

Robert Moses Building on Randall's Island today.

Robert Moses Building on Randall's Island today. The building underwent some rehabilitation work in 2007, including a thorough cleaning of its limestone façade and restoration of the original outdoor light fixtures.