Sara Roosevelt Park – history

Sent by Joyce Mendelsohn of Friends of the Lower East Side:

A history of housing proposals between 1930 and 1933, including a radically modern one made by architects Howe and Lescaze

Lower East Side Siedlung (settlement) – By Joanna Merwood–Salisbury

Merwood–Salisbury: “When Sara D. Roosevelt Park opened in September 1934 it …represented a decisive act on the part of new Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to distance himself from his predecessor, Mayor James J. Walker, and to usher in a new era of civic responsibility in city planning….intended, not for a park, but for social housing.”

“…The land in question had been acquired by the city only a few months before the stock market crash of 1929, at greatly inflated cost. After the existing tenement buildings were demolished in 1930 the site became a barren wasteland of demolition rubble, a “Hooverville” of shanty houses and bread lines…”


With clarification from Joyce Mendelsohn:

….”Tammany politicians and Judge Joseph Force Crater kept the project from getting off the ground. They made shady deals with property owners, jacking up prices that the city paid — while pocketing huge kickbacks for themselves — turning a slum location into a prohibitively expensive land for development.” -‘Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited’, (Second edition Columbia University Press, 2009. p. 162)

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