New York City Housing Authority - Rutgers Houses

61 Pike Street
New York

New York City Housing Authority - Rutgers Houses

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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is one of the ways in which New York City provides affordable housing for more than 400,000 New Yorkers. Access to safe and affordable housing helps to preserve the cultural and socio-economic diversity that New York City is known for. Originally envisioned and created by master urban planner Robert Moses in 1934, NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the United States. Unfortunately, crime, substance abuse, and violence has often prevented many residents of large affordable housing complexes such as NYCHA from enjoying their community’s public spaces. The way in which the NYCHA complexes were designed has promoted some of these problems.

One of the most notable urban design ideas of the 1950’s and 1960’s that influenced public housing projects in New York City such as NYCHA, was Le Corbusier’s “Tower in the Park” vision. While initially conceived to efficiently create compact, high-rise rental housing for low-income families in New York City, surrounded by green open spaces, the housing projects concentrated low-income families in one space, often times with few amenities, and access to public transportation or public space. Overtime, the projects and its’ residents became stereotyped by the public as unsafe and troubled.

On one of the weeks, Velo City Bikesplorers rode to NYCHA’s Rutgers Houses and LaGuardia Houses in the Lower East Side. The Bikesplorers had a guest speaker from NYCHA’s Green Agenda who talked about the history of NYCHA and its goal to become a leader amongst landlords when it comes to advancing PlaNYC, the City's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make New York City the world's first great sustainable city of the 21st century. Although green initiatives are much harder and expensive to implement on older project buildings, NYCHA’s Green Agenda is swiftly moving forward with its mission. The NYCHA speaker also gave the Bikesplorers tips on how they can conserve energy in their homes and their communities as a way for them to get involved in promoting a healthier environment.

Rutgers Houses is named after Henry Rutgers (1745-1830), the last descendant of Dutch immigrants who came to this country in 1636. A captain in the Revolutionary War, he went on to be a major landowner and philanthropist. He became a member of the State Assembly and funded the construction of the first Great Wigwam of Tammany Hall in 1811. Rutgers Houses consists of five, 20-story buildings with 721 apartments.

La Guardia Houses was named after Fiorello H. La Guardia (1882-1947) was the 99th Mayor of New York City (1934-1945) and the creator of the New York City Housing Authority. La Guardia was known for his fiery personality and willingness to place the City’s interests above political gain. He oversaw the construction of New York City’s first municipal airport which was later named after him as well. La Guardia Houses has nine buildings each being 16 stories tall with 1,092 apartments.

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