Robert Moses was born on December 18, 1888. He was not given a middle name - because his mother saw no reason for one.
Bella Moses was a strong-willed woman, so strong-willed, in fact, that some of her relatives said she was too much like her mother - and not enough like her father. Bella's parents, Robert's grandparents, were first cousins. Both had been born - Bernhard Cohen in 1821, Rosalie Silverman five years later - in the small Bavarian village of Reckendorf to struggling merchant families, two of the tens of thousands of German-Jewish families made highly susceptible to "America fever" by laws that segregated them in crowded Judengassen and forced them to pay the humiliating "Jew toll" whenever they made a trip away from the ghetto. The statutes also prohibited Jews from owning any land except that on which their houses stood or from dealing in any goods that could not be carried with them. Bavaria, where German anti-Semitism was most virulent, had even set a limit on the number of Jewish marriages in an attempt to keep the Jewish population down. The Silvermans left Reckendorf for New York while Rosalie was in her teens. Bernhard Cohen had been taken to Frankfurt am Main as a child by parents who hoped that life for Jews in Germany would be better outside Bavaria; when this hope was dashed, they waited until Bernhard was twenty-one, and then sent him and a younger brother, Samuel, to America, where the brothers opened a small dry-goods store in Mobile, Alabama. In 1848, they moved to New York, rented a small office and became dry-goods importers. Bernhard met his cousin and in 1849 they were married.
-Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York