Stuyvesant Town's Struggle to Maintain Its Traditions
A New Documentary By William Kelly
The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has been remastered and issued to celebrate its original release a half century ago. Fifty years is a considerable amount of time during which a lot can happen, and indeed it has. While I understand the abstract nature of music engenders a more direct connection with emotion, …
The impetus of post-war idealism to create affordable middle class housing found its design parallel in early 20th Century
European utopian aesthetics, “Towers in the Park.” The complex combines high rise buildings and open spaces, bringing the light and air of the suburbs
into the city. The design sparks controversy.
The shared experience of the Veterans and their families coupled with the layout of the complex led to something which
neither Robert Moses nor Jane Jacobs could have predicted: the development of an extraordinarily tight-knit sense of community and a small town
ethos among the residents.
NYC at the end of WWII: with a severe housing shortage looming, big money and big government create the first
public-private partnership to build a massive apartment complex to house thousands of returning veterans. That the Vets had to be white led to a
long and bitter struggle that eventually resulted in the nation’s first fair housing law.
Stuyvesant Town does not want for controversy and struggle. The massive housing project has consistently seen
conflict over a wide range of issues: public and private interests, design and urban planning, a racist housing policy.
Battles took place in the courts, in legislatures, and in the streets. The Burden of Eden explores these struggles of Stuyvesant Town’s
near seventy year history.