Exhuming the Lost Blocks Razed for the ‘Village View’ Housing Complex [PHOTOS]

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 at 5:05 am by

Village View complex under construction, Photo: Susan Fensten

The Village View housing complex opened fifty-five years ago as part of the Mitchell-Lama program. Construction of the sprawling campus – situated on Avenue A and First Avenue between East Second and East Sixth Streets – required the massive clearance and demolition of dozens of buildings. Displacement and disruption followed as whole neighborhoods were effectively decimated.

Village View was originally proposed in the late 1950s as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Houses, low-income public housing. However, by the early 1960s, the program privatized and was sponsored by a consortium of local colleges and universities. When it finally debuted in 1964 as a Mitchell-Llama cooperative, the seven-building affordable development offered 1,236 limited-equity apartments for middle income folks. (Three of the buildings have 21 floors, while the other four are 16 stories.)

Photo: Susan Fensten

Photographer and native New Yorker Susan Fensten acquired a fascinating collection of original black-and-white prints chronicling the area before, during, and after construction of the Village View. Handwritten notes on the back of each indicate dates between May 1960 and July 1963.

The Mitchell-Lama program, founded in 1955, supported the creation of more than 105,000 rentals and limited-equity co-ops for middle-income New Yorkers. However, the city’s accelerated real estate market has eliminated almost one-third of those units, according to New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

All images are courtesy of the collection of Susan Fensten.

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