Gems from the Archives
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In February 2009, the New York State Assembly passed a legislative package to strengthen rent regulation laws. As the legislation awaits review by the State Senate, we look back on the history of rent regulation in New York.
Rent laws in the U.S. originated after the first World War, when a lack of adequate and affordable housing caused politicians to declare a “post-war emergency” and call for rent controls. In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt reacted to another affordability crisis by signing an emergency rent control program. Rent regulations have continued to evolve since then, becoming state-run in 1950 and then …Read more
The Great Depression
As President Obama prepared to sign the stimulus bill this week, we decided to showcase a valuable part of our collection: original documents and reports from FDR’s New Deal. Given the stimulus’ emphasis on reducing housing loan payments for owners, investing in rental housing for low-income families and the need for bipartisan support for the sweeping changes, reading the actual documents of the New Deal housing programs provides a unique insight into the policy directions of 2009. Th e New Deal is a topic that is dear to CHPC’s heart. We were established in 1937, in the era of the …Read more
Cobble Hill Towers
Alfred Tredway White was a leading American housing reformer in the late 19th Century, who pioneered good quality, affordable housing, that would strengthen society as a whole while still profiting landlords. Born into a wealthy merchant family in Brooklyn in 1846, he was inspired to build quality housing for working families after helping with the settlement school program of the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights and witnessing the shockingly poor living conditions of the children.
Between 1876 and 1879, he built the Home and the Tower Buildings on Hicks Street at Baltic Street in Brooklyn, described as ‘model …Read more
Stuyvesant Town History
Our archive includes an extraordinary collection of documents that set out the history of the development of Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, including:
– The relocation plan for 11,000 people (a pdf of which can be found here)
– Original plans and submissions to City Planning
– Original advertising material (download the pdf here)
– Supreme Court papers detailing litigation on Stuy Town’s alleged segregation policies preventing African-Americans from living there, and eminent domain issues (download a pdf of the case brief here)
– Letters and reports from associated agencies and organizations, including CHPC and a NAACP letter …
World Trade Center
CHPC’s archival library houses a large and unique collection of World Trade Center photographs, plans, marketing, and reports.
A selection of WTC model photographs and the Dedication Day Newsletter can be found here (pdf).…Read more
I-Card Mystery Solved
Over one million index sized cards from the early 1900’s are still filed away in the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s borough offices. The cards carefully document, apartment by apartment, observations from the City’s earliest code inspectors at the Tenement House Department (1901-1937).
Known as the I-Cards, they provide a detailed and fascinating look at the conditions that people lived in at the turn of the 20th Century. Yet the meaning and purpose of the I-Cards had, until now, been all but lost to generations of city workers. Some believed they were “Information” cards, others that …Read more
Polling New Yorkers in 1974
When we enter a new year, we inevitably take stock of our lives and our homes. The New York Times did just this in January 1974 with a series of polls of New Yorkers about New York City. Featured here is an original copy of the special reprint of this series, “New Yorkers Speak Out On New York,” from CHPC’s archives.
As New York faces a financial crisis in 2010, these articles give some perspective on how different today’s concerns are from those in the 1970s, a period of economic stagnation coupled with rampant crime. One article, entitled “Where New …Read more
1933 Vacancies Survey
In March and April of 1933, the NYC Tenement House Department hired 800 emergency workers including unemployed architects, engineers, and real estate professionals. Over the course of two months, the team surveyed an astounding 128,344 Class A Multiple Dwelling Units.
What they found was shocking. Click on the link below and what you’ll find is that vacancy rates were an incredible 14.4 percent—thousands of apartments literally sat empty. Meanwhile, the ranks of the homeless on New York City ’s streets continued to grow, unable to afford the rent for these vacant units.
This study, found in our archives, was the …Read more
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