Gems from the Archives
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Dramatic Table Reading from the CHPC Archive
On Wednesday July 13th, CHPC, along with Enterprise Community Partners, held a unique evening event to celebrate New York City’s housing policy history.
Guests from across the housing industry were invited to take part in a dramatic table reading of two pieces from CHPC’s incredible archive.
In rich poetic detail, reports from the first ever New York City code inspectors, describing their experiences of the Lower East Slums at the turn of the 20th century, were actually read by real-life code inspectors today! We were delighted to welcome so many code inspectors, including Vito Mustaciuolo, Deputy Commissioner for the …Read more
Monthly Gem from the Archive
The Gem from the Archive this month is a remarkable booklet, published by the New York City Housing Authority, containing statistics on every New York City public housing project begun before June 1962.
The booklet contains an incredible depth of information on each of these projects and even includes information not currently available on the NYCHA website.
The booklet features federal, state, and city housing projects, including SRO rehabilitation projects, and includes such figures as each project’s total square and cube footage, land cost, construction cost per rental room, and site improvement and development costs per rental room.
This booklet …Read more
Jacob Riis Radio Play
The gem featured this month is a radio play written by CHPC to commemorate the centennial of Jacob Riis’ birth. The radio play, with official copyright filed by CHPC in 1949, was a dramatic narrative of Jacob Riis’ groundbreaking work uncovering the squalor of the slums and the impact of his photography and writing on the development of housing codes and enforcement.
We are not sure where this play aired originally, but we would love to organize a revival at some point! We have also found some other plays written by CHPC in our archive so keep an eye on …Read more
People vs the Parkway
The Cedar Grove Beach Club has made local headlines recently and, in the process, reignited the debate about eminent domain.
The stretch of oceanfront property on the southeastern shore of Staten Island was seized from residents in 1958 to build Shore Front Drive, part of the Richmond Parkway. But, in 1968, the City Planning Commission announced that the parkway would be diverted from its original route to a more westerly path, leaving Shore Front Drive without an origin and terminating the coastal project. The city has been leasing the property to club members since then and the summer of 2010 …Read more
From its mid-nineteenth century origins as a suburb of Manhattan to the 1898 consolidation of New York City to its modern incarnation, Astoria, Queens has always one of the city’s foremost and most multicultural commercial and residential centers.
The recently approved Astoria rezoning proposal aims to preserve the character of the neighborhood by employing “contextual zoning districts.” These revised designations are more limited than the districts that have been in place since the original zoning in 1961, and will more closely mirror the scale, density, and character of existing buildings.
In light of this rezoning, we searched our archives to …Read more
The ABC of City Planning
In 1937, Mayor La Guardia’s Committee on City Planning produced a small book for children, titled The ABC of City Planning, intended to instill understanding and enthusiasm in children for the city’s built environment.
CHPC has preserved a copy of this adorable text, which for modern audiences is more than just an amusing diversion: it offers a unique insight into a New York City of a different era.Read more
CHPC was a powerful voice against the early discriminatory practices at Stuyvesant Town, as evidenced by the hundreds of CHPC archival documents that shed light on the origins of this controversial housing complex. These documents are digitized under the link below.
Corpus Christie Chronicle (pdf) speaks out against the discrimination at Stuy Town, 1943
Supreme Court brief (pdf) filed by the AJC, ACLU and NAACP – including Thurgood Marshall – against Stuyvesant Town Corp and Met Life, 1947
New York Historical Society Quarterly article (pdf) on La Guardia and Stuy Town by Dominic Capeci, 1978…Read more
Second Avenue Subway
A Dream Deferred: The Story of the Second Avenue Subway
Two years after construction restarted, the announcement was made in Summer 2009: the Second Avenue Subway project was delayed.
The latest plans for the subway line include a two-track line along Second Avenue from 125th Street to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan with a connection from Second Avenue through the 63rd Street tunnel to existing tracks for service to West Midtown and Brooklyn. The line, which is being built in four phases at a cost of $4.4 billion, is presently in Phase One.
This is a project with a …Read more
Coney Island Rezoning
Coney Island Through the Decades
Since the mid-1800s, the public has associated Brooklyn’s Coney Island with its famous boardwalk and amusement parks. However, after World War II, the area began to decline as a truly popular attraction. The famous Luna Park closed in 1946, and Steeplechase Park, the last of the major parks, closed in 1964.
As Coney Island declined as a resort location, it was rezoned as a residential area, and many low-income housing projects were built, beginning in 1954. CHPC uncovered fascinating archival documents and maps that tell the story of housing development and neighborhood transformation in Coney …Read more
In the 1950’s, CHPC calls for well-planned urban renewal
The Federal Housing Act of 1949 gave American cities the financing to clear slums and to launch urban renewal projects that would plan these blighted areas from scratch. In the 1950’s, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Council published a pamphlet urging New York to embrace quality urban planning and redevelopment and to invite New Yorkers to become involved with CHPC’s work on the issue.
Further, CHPC proclaimed, “We can decide that the comfort and happiness of people rank above everything else.” CHPC warned New York City against constructing large, congested, and more …Read more
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