Pre-1951: West 98th and 99th Streets near Columbus Avenue
h/t to the West Side Rag and thanks to reason.tv
"What was once a rundown dying section of the great city of New York has been recreated..." This, of course, depends on your definition of "rundown" and "dying."
Despite its richness, the neighborhood around Columbus Avenue and West 98th and 99th Streets was considered blighted and declared a slum in 1951 under the banner of "urban renewal" effectively plowing over a vibrant neighborhood. Robert Moses, head of NYC's slum clearance committee, had, according to biographer Robert Caro, an egregious hand in its destruction through the sale of these blocks to a developer who envisioned "Manhattantown," which ultimately made way for Park West Village, which is now surrounded by "Columbus Square." This 21st century envisioning of neighborhood living is for historians to evaluate in the years to come. And one needs to dig ever deeper for the savory dressing in this urban "Turducken."
Why do I say that? Because, the very premise upon which this plan for "urban renewal" hinged was false. The condemned village, now known as the Old Community, was not a slum. Yes, it was modest. But it was home to an integrated community of artists and families. Moses infamously said, "Someday you’ll thank me for these projects and forget about these people.”
Thanks to neighbor and filmmaker Jim Epstein, Moses is wrong (again): we will not forget these people, our neighbors. Featured recently in the West Side Rag, Jim's film "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The Destruction and Survival of a New York City Neighborhood" is today's Throwback Thursday. A local neighborhood goneby but not forgotten, the Old Community is filled with unforgettable faces and stories. Moses supposes erroneously.
For further information, see this piece by Kevin Baker.
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