The Ambitious 1960s Plan of ‘Instant Renovation’ of Old Law Tenements

Posted on: February 28th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

With an ever-constant flow of stories about landlords upscaling tenements – and the resultant displacement of residents – it’s appropriate to revisit the little-known federal program of “instant renovations” from yesteryear.

This housing rehabilitation pilot program began during the mayoral term of Lindsay, and seems rather bonkers. Essentially, a crane would cut through the roof and floors of a building, and insert a steel crate containing preassembled materials. Think of it as modular housing. The whole process would take forty-eight hours, even in an occupied building. (The residents would be relocated to hotels until the instant rehabilitation project completed.)

Three tenements on East Fifth Street were chosen for the trial technique.

But the instant renovation pilot remained just that, and never really got off the ground. As such, these “instant renovations” are all but lost to history. Thanks to the Internet, though, there are still bread crumbs. Like the following propaganda video from the time.

Just imagine if the remodeling was only this easy and painless.

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