The Burden Of Eden

Stuyvesant Town's Struggle to Maintain Its Traditions

A New Documentary By William Kelly


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: an extraordinarily tight-knit sense of community among the residents which would last over multiple generations. Such a concentration of young families and exploding birth rates (the complex become known as “Rabbit Town”) guaranteed social continuity among the adults and, as the children went to the same schools throughout their formative years, succeeding generations. A small town ethos developed amid the residents whose shared sense of community was evident as early as 1952 when six hundred of them, mostly women and children, showed up at City Hall to protest Met Life’s proposed first rent increase.

This spirit continues today as residents band tightly together in a powerful tenants association to maintain the original premise of the complex as described by then Met Life Chairman, Frederick Ecker: “...that families of moderate means might live in health, comfort and dignity in park-like communities, and that a pattern might be set of private enterprise productively devoted to public service."