By Hannah Gonzalez
This month’s ‘Gem From the CHPC Archives’ is a leaflet that sets out the extraordinary special remarks of Robert Moses given at the groundbreaking of Co-op City in 1966.
Located on 320 acres in northeastern Bronx, Co-op City was set to be the largest limited equity, cooperative housing development upon its completion in 1970. Sponsored by the United Housing Foundation, the staggering 35 high-rise apartments (24-33 stories) and 188 three-storey townhomes were set to house approximately 15,500 families (roughly 60,000 residents). The development was designed to be self-contained: supporting these massive residential structures were garages, schools, religious institutions, a library, shopping centers, parks, recreational centers and many other community facilities. The apartments were built under the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, a New York state housing subsidy that made funds available for building moderate-income housing.
At CHPC, committee members assessed all of the elements of this massive project and gave their overall approval but with numerous reservations. At the public hearing for the City Planning Commission they voiced concerns such as possible transportation problems (citing that the development is located between two highways), the adjacent regional shopping center to be built, and numerous social problems including, as they correctly predicted, the blight caused in the neighborhoods that were vacated by those moving into the development.
Robert Moses’s vision for a housing renewal strategy in New York City was building modern multi-storey apartment buildings, moving in tenants from dilapidated areas, then replacing their old residences, and repeating this cycle. Co-op City was an epitome of this vision; this was his “working class utopia.” Moses, who was then the Chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, made these highfalutin’ special remarks at the Groundbreaking of Co-op City on May 14, 1966: