East Village History Project's Today in New York City History blog
Saturday, August 1, 2009
August 1, 1947: First Building of Stuyvesant Town Erected
Stuyvesant Town, a private residential development adjacent to the East Village, was originally built along with Peter Cooper Village as a post-war housing project during the housing crisis following the Great Depression. The first building was erected on August 1, 1947, and the development grew to contain 110 buildings, 11,200 apartments, and over 25,000 residents. Veterans were given selection priority. Its planning and construction was led by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses under mayor LaGuardia.
The project caused some controversy over whether or not private companies should be allowed to take over fields of action that were previously public. Discrimination against African American rental applicants was a topic of heated debate. Councilmen Stanley M. ISaacs and A. Clayton Powell Jr. proposed a provision that would prevent such discrimination, but the idea was rejected, and African Americans were barred from living in Stuyvesant Town for the first several years after its completion. Several lawsuits followed before African American residents were finally admitted to the complex.
Today, Stuvesant Town (or "Stuy Town" to its residents) hosts twelve parks and is staffed by peace officers. The area continues to be a subject of controversy, especially on the topic of rent control, as Metropolitan Life has made attempts to drive out or raise the rent of rent-controlled residents. Protests among the Stuyvesant Town community have so far managed to quell these attempts.