Hillside Homes Bronx - Photo #1

Characteristic view of Hillside Homes, showing a quadrangle of 4-story buildings around a spacious green, with the street entrance at center. "The land on which the project is built includes fourteen acres, five of which are covered by 108 four-story walk-up buildings and four six-story elevator structures, while the remaining nine are devoted to gardens, parks, playgrounds, terraces, and wading pools."[1] From the same article we know the project was financed by the PWA; the financing was about five million dollars, which would be 92 million in 2018. The New Deal connection is clear, but there might well be more to it. For example, was relief labor used?
  1. "Governor Opens Hillside Homes - Ceremonies at Huge PWA Project on Boston Road Attract Throng of 5,000", New York Times, Sunday, June 30, 1935, pp.75,81. "Darwin R. James, head of the State Housing Board, who presided at the ceremonies, in a short address said that ... 'no matter how high rents may soar in other sections of the city, the rents in this project will never exceed the present rate of $11 per room.'"
  2. "Housing Progress Detailed by PWA", New York Times, January 11, 1937, p.7; Harold Ickes reports great success with the Hillside and Boulevard Gardens limited-dividend projects: full occupancy, long waiting list. "PWA loans to private corporations acting under the State Board of Housing made the construction of these projects possible."
  3. "Real Estate Notes", New York Times, November 20, 1937, p.30; The Hillside Housing Corporation was originally headed by Nathan Straus. Straus was appointed administrator of the Federal Housing Authority in November 1937. He was succeeded at Hillside by Frank C. Lowe.
  4. "Bank Refinances Hillside Project", New York Times, July 27, 1941, p.89; "The Hillside Gardens project, providing dwellings for 1,408 families at moderate rentals, is organized under the State Housing Law and is operated under the supervision of the Division of Housing. It was ereceted in 1934 and the major part of the financing was provided by the the former Housing Division of the PWA, which made a loan of $,060,000, since reduced by amortization payments. Rentals are limited by law to an average of $11 per room per month, and dividends payable to stockholders are limited to 6 per cent."
  5. "Hillside Homes Rent Rises", New York Times, December 17, 1954, p.24; "A rent increase of slightly less than 50 cents a room a month was ordered yesterday bye State Housing Commissioner Herman T. Stichman for Hillside Homes, the Bronx ... The operators had sought $2.75 a room a month and an over-all increase of $4.19, including the $2.75, by January 1956."
  6. González, Evelyn, The Bronx, Columbia University Press (2007). "From the 1920s on, government policies encouraged the building of apartments for the middle class .. the state legislature provided tax exemptions for residential construction ... To qualify ... landlords agreed to limit their dividends or profits... These laws also promoted the building of limited dividend and cooperative apartment complexes in the far reaches of the borough. These projects led to other co-op housing ventures, which, during the Depression of the 1930s, often relied on federal New Deal financing. By 1940, Almalgamated Housing, Thomas Gardens, the Shalom Aleichem Houses, the Workers Cooperative Colony (or Coops for short), Academy Housing, Hillside Homes, and Parkchester had added thousands of middle-income units to the supply of Bronx apartments."
  7. Larsen, Kristin, Planning and Public-Private Partnerships: Essential Links in Early Federal Housing Policy, Journal of Planning History, 2016 Vol.15(1), pp.68-81: "In July 1932, Congress passed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act making it possible for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which had been formed in January, to make loans to limited dividend corporations for the construction or reconstruction of low-income housing. As Stein and his colleagues had hoped, approval and oversight of these loans fell to state or municipal housing boards rather than private entities, such as banks. 40 Initially, the only state to have the legislative and administrative structure in place to take advantage of the program was New York. 41 Other states soon followed New York's example in hopes of accessing this funding. 42 In response to passage of the law, the Public Housing Conference began seeking support for projects in New York City that could be funded with RFC loans, one being Stein's limited dividend Hillside Homes in the Bronx ... Hillside Homes was one of only seven such limited dividend projects".
  8. Plunz, Richard, A History of Housing in New York City, Columbia University Press (2016): "In the design of Hillside Homes, the first PWA loan project, Clarence Stein continued to develop the ideas pioneered earlier with Henry Wright at Phipps Garden Apartments. The large site occupied approximately five irregular blocks in the outer Bronx at the intersection of Eastchester and Boston roads... (etc etc, lots of architectural details, p.212-213 [at least])
  9. Bloom, Nicholas Dagen and Matthew Gordon Lasner, Public Housing That Worked, Princeton U Press (2008), p.17-18: "The loans, funneled through the State Housing Board and overseen by Robert Moses, were distributed to private industry in a patter similar to that of the state-funded projects that preceded them. The RFC-funded (later PWA-supervised) projects were all estimated to rent monthly at between eleven and twelve dollars per room. New York, with its tradition of model low-cost housing, actually gained approval for two projects. Under this program, the Fred French built Knickerbocker village (1933), a high-rise slum clearance project on the Lower East Side; the future federal administrator and wealthy philanthropist Nathan Straus Jr. built Hillside Homes (1935) in the Bronx. Both of these developments proved to be important, if different, precedents for NYCHA."
  10. Bauman, John F., Roger Biles, and Kristin M. Szylvian, From Tenements to the Taylor Homes: In Search of an Urban Housing Policy in Twentieth-Century America, Pennsylvania State University Press (2000). How Nathan Straus, who had sponsored Hillside Houses, headed FDR's US Housing Authority (USHA), "sincerely devoted to the cause of public housing... hoped that by keeping costs to a minimum he could garner political support and at the same time produce the greatest amount of shelter."
  11. Constantine, Joseph A, "Memories of My Life in the Bronx During The 1930's", bronxboard.com (accessed 28 April 2018). "The farm on Boston and Eastchester Roads became a golf driving range, and I was hired as a golf ball retriever ... This driving range subsequently became the site where the Hillside Homes were built."
  12. "Hillside Homes", The American Architect CXLVIII, February 1936, pp. 17-33. (A relevant article that I have not yet been able to find.)
  13. "Housing Conditions", Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, October 1935, pp. 968-971. (ditto)
  14. Hillside Housing photo gallery, a large number of high-resolution photos from 1935.
  15. "The Big City; Coming Closer To a Utopia In the Bronx", New York Times, 18 March 2000. "... the complex has a long history of government subsidy -- it was originally financed with New Deal money and later was supported by the state's Mitchell-Lama housing program ... the rehabilitation has been paid for entirely by the Emmes Group, the company that took over the bankrupt development three years ago" at which time it was renamed Eastchester Heights.
  16. Paletta, Anthony, A Brief History of Affordable Housing in New York City, Metropolis Magazine website (accessed 28 April 2018).
  17. Taconic Investment restores hope with Eastchester Heights, New York Daily News, 6 June 2008. "This massive development is an architectural gem. Designed by Clarence Stein, one of America's most famous architects of the 1930s, Eastchester Heights was built as a planned community for middle-income city residents. Stein, involved in the design of Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, studied planning and landscaping in England. His work at Eastchester Heights, originally called Hillside Homes, complements the landscaping with large interior spaces across a series of four- and six-story brick buildings that rise with the hilly landscape. The streets act as terraces. Plush interior courtyards that look more like meadows harmoniously coexist with dark red-brick buildings accented by arched passageways and sidewalks serving as paths ... In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Hillside Homes became an urban war zone. Drug pushers were widespread and gunfights from the bars and clubs on Boston Road spilled over into the complex almost every weekend. While residents don't report being scared for their lives, it became difficult to raise a family."
  18. Eastchester Heights, Taconic Management Company: "Eastchester Heights is a 1,416 unit residential apartment complex. The property spans five city blocks, bounded by Eastchester Avenue to the north, Boston Road to the east, Wilson Ave to the south and Hicks St to the west. Built in 1935 and situated on 14.84 acres, it is among the largest residential communities in the Bronx, and in greater New York City."
  19. Capital One Supports Sprawling Affordable Housing Complex, Capital One website (accessed 28 April 2018). "Originally designed in the 1930s by urban reformer Clarence Stein, Eastchester Heights was built around a series of interconnected courtyards, and included playgrounds, common rooms for workshops and clubs, and a nursery school. But by the mid-1990s, it had fallen on hard times."
  20. Rental Building News and Offers From Bronx Eastchester Heights: Newly Renovated Bronx Rentals from $1,275/Month, citrealty.com website (accessed 28 April 2018).