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CHPC New York

Category listing for Gems from the Archives

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 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 … Read more…

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 Read more…

Waste Management Siting at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

The proposed marine transfer station under construction adjacent to the FDR Drive. Photo credit: Michael Appleton for the New York Times

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 … Read more…

Resistance to Washington Square Park Development in 1945

Wash Sq Villagers rezoning poster

As New York University’s “Plan 2031” expansion continues and hits the news again this week, we delve into our archives to examine heated debates around Washington Square Park in years gone by. And as we see, the more things change the more they stay the same.

In 1945, the Washington Square Association, a group of neighborhood residents, organized a fiery campaign against the impending redevelopment of the area around the park. They feared that a “thirty-story apartment building planned for post-war erection on Washington Square North” would be just the beginning of a complete inundation of the park by tall … Read more…

CHPC’s 1989 Survey of Mayoral Candidates

David Dinkins

More than two decades after his tenure as mayor ended, housing policy looms large in the legacy of Edward I. Koch. Koch served three terms, from 1978 through 1989. His Ten Year Plan for Housing revitalized a decaying city and stands as one of his signature accomplishments. Yet Koch’s popularity could not carry him through a fourth election: in 1989, then-Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins won a four-way Democratic primary and defeated Rudolph Giuliani to become New York City’s first and only African-American mayor to date.


As the primary elections neared in 1989, CHPC asked the Republican and Democratic … Read more…