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CHPC New York

Archive Namesakes

Marian Sameth came to the Citizens Housing & Planning Council in April 1946, drawn by its commitment to NYC’s neighborhoods and civic advocacy.  An organizational innovator, Marian, along with her long term colleagues Frances Magee and Ruth Dickler, established CHPC’s library and archival collection.

Roger Starr, CHPC’s long-time Executive Director for whom our public service award is named, acknowledged that while he was the public face of the organization and received all the recognition, without Marian there would be no CHPC and that it was she who was really in charge.

Ms. Sameth served as Associate Director of CHPC until she retired in 2000 and assumed a position on CHPC’s Board of Directors.  She continues to be an active member of the Board, serving on the fall fundraiser and Annual Luncheon committees. She is an avid reader, theater goer, and music lover.  But most notably Ms. Sameth loves the City of New York, its neighborhoods and its people and has dedicated these past six decades to its improvement, preservation, and its future.

Born and raised in New York City, Mrs. Ruth Dickler first joined CHPC as a volunteer in 1962, where she began to build and shape CHPC’s archival library. Recognizing that resources to expand the collection were scarce, she worked with NYC’s publishers to obtain book donations and established and edited CHPC’s BookNews, which provided reviews on books related to NYC housing and planning.

She created the library’s first card catalogue and became an important resource for many of New York’s researchers, academics, and students. Her volunteer work grew into a staff position (the salary for which she donated back to the organization), and upon her “retirement” she became a member of CHPC’s Board of Directors, where she continues to serve today.

Mrs. Dickler has traveled the world, but has always devoted herself to the improvement, growth, and prosperity of the City where she has spent her life. A talented writer and editor, her research and organizational skills helped to shape CHPC’s work and its effectiveness for nearly five decades. She has mentored many young people who have gone on to distinguished careers in the law, planning, and public service.

The 1951 Slum Clearance Plan for Lenox Terrace

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 of Read more…

CHPC is putting on a show!


Last year CHPC commissioned playwright Adam Thorburn to use the primary source documents in our Ruth Dickler – Marian Sameth Archival Library to craft an original play about the struggle to integrate Stuyvesant Town in the 1940s and 50s.

The evening of Monday, December 10 Stuyvesant Town: This Is Your Home will premiere at the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center on West 42nd Street.

A wine and cheese reception beginning at 6:30pm will lead into the performance. Afterwards, a panel discussion will pull the story into the present, examining issues of discrimination and segregation in housing today. Tickets are … Read more…

Robert Moses at the Groundbreaking of Co-op City in 1966

Network Scan Data

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 … Read more…

AIA: Jerilyn Perine’s 2011 Ratensky Lecture


The annual Ratensky Lecture was initiated by the AIA New York Chapter Housing Committee in honor of Samuel Ratensky (1910-1972), an architect and housing official who was responsible for major housing initiatives in the city from 1946 to 1972, and who served as a mentor to the many architects who worked in his programs. The lecture series honors individuals who, like Sam Ratensky, have made significant lifetime contributions to the advancement of housing and community design.

And this year, we were delighted that our Executive Director, Jerilyn Perine, was invited to give a lecture based on her  work as … Read more…

Making Room Video!

Urban Omnibus is an online project of the Architectural League of New York; CHPC partners in the upcoming Making Room Design Challenge & Showcase Event.  The Omnibus features multi-media content to showcase design innovation, critical analysis and local expertise across a broad range of topics and locales, creating bridges between various communities of interest.

And this month, they have made a video all about Making Room! It features Jerilyn Perine,  CHPC board member Matt Blesso and a number of other housing, architecture and community development leaders, as well as items from the CHPC Marian Sameth & Ruth Dickler Archival … Read more…

Monthly Gem from the Archive

NYCHA project stat icon

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…

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…