Archive for Gems from the Archives

A housing curriculum for public schools


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In the 1980’s housing in New York City was, in many ways, sick. Tens of thousands of units had been abandoned, New York City was still near the brink of bankruptcy and the federal government was backing away from its historical commitment to housing. HPD was a relatively new agency at the time and it had few tools in its toolbox to tackle the huge housing problems it faced. The agency, however, had a philosophical underpinning that healthy buildings made healthy neighborhoods and its staff had the creativity to experiment with new ideas. If tenants …

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Remembering the Koch Housing Plan

On May 3 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his ten-year Housing New York plan. It follows in the tradition of the housing plans that preceded it: broad in scope, ambitious in goals. Indeed, in her keynote speech at CHPC’s annual luncheon the prior week, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen drew on the great housing reforms of New York City’s going back to the early 20th Century.

With that historical perspective in mind, we dive into our archives to find the 1985 State of the City speech in which Mayor Ed Koch announced his own housing initiatives. It was the first …

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The 1951 Slum Clearance Plan for Lenox Terrace


Slum clearance

Our archives contain original copies of over one dozen slum clearance plans proposed in the 1950’s by the Committee on Slum Clearance Plans, whose Chairman was Robert Moses. These plans were proposed following the passage of the National Housing Act of 1949, which provided that areas with “slum conditions” could be seized, cleared and made available to private parties for redevelopment. Cleared land could be sold at a loss to induce developers to redevelop the sites, with the federal government taking two-thirds of the loss and local government one-third.

These plans contain detailed descriptions of slum conditions and photographs …

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CHPC Rent Control Reform Ideas From 1977

On the eve of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board’s first meeting of 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio filled some of its vacant seats by appointing public, owner, and tenant-advocate members. These appointments have caught much press attention lately on the heels of de Blasio’s rent-freeze campaign rhetoric. His appointments to the RGB offer a glimpse into whether a rent freeze will, in fact, happen.



As the public and private debates continue, CHPC has dug into its archives to find primary documents cataloging the development of rent regulation in New York City. The archives contain a great …

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Envisioning Community Boards in the 1963 Charter

On April 1 new Community Board members across the city will begin their new terms. As the five Borough Presidents get ready to make their appointments, we dug through our archives looking for clues on how this form of decentralized government came to be.

A pamphlet by the Citizens Union Research Foundation from 1962 titled Home Town in the Big City analyzed the shortcomings of Manhattan’s Community Planning Councils, the predecessors to the Community Boards that the 1963 City Charter envisioned. Although the pamphlet was supportive of the effort to decentralize local government, it warned that Community Planning Councils’ advisory

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Waste Management Siting at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

As Mayor Bill de Blasio digs in on a proposed and much-disputed waste transfer station along the East River in Manhattan, we dig into our archives yet again to find a parallel example of NIMBY waste management politics in New York City’s not-so-distant past.

In the mid-1980s, city elected officials and municipal agencies were embroiled in a battle over the use of Brooklyn Navy Yard land. The Department of Sanitation wanted to use the northeast corner of the land for a “waste-to-steam” facility that would not only burn refuse but also turn it into energy for the surrounding area.

Testimony …

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