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."
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?
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.'"
- "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."
- "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.
- "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
- "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."
- 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."
- 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".
- 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
- 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."
- 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
- 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."
- "Hillside Homes", The American Architect CXLVIII, February 1936,
pp. 17-33. (A relevant article that I have not yet been able to find.)
- "Housing Conditions", Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 41, No. 4,
October 1935, pp. 968-971. (ditto)
Housing photo gallery, a large number of high-resolution photos from 1935.
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.
- Paletta, Anthony, A
Brief History of Affordable Housing in New York City, Metropolis
Magazine website (accessed 28 April 2018).
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."
- 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."
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."
Rental Building News and Offers
From Bronx Eastchester Heights: Newly Renovated Bronx Rentals from
$1,275/Month, citrealty.com website (accessed 28 April 2018).