Pictorial History of the Tenant Movement

17. Urban renewal ravaged poor and working-class neighborhoods in New York City throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However, residents of the neighborhood surrounding Manhattan's Cooper Square, working with planner Walter Thabit, developed an alternative plan whereby the buildings of the renewal area would be razed and replaced in stages rather than simultaneously so that the residents of the community would not be displaced. Although their plan received wide publicity and ultimately official endorsement, it faced thirty years of roadblocks. On November 19, 1964, "members of the Cooper Square Community Development Committee brought out everything from babies to dogs while keeping an all night vigil outside [the Mayor's official residence at] Gracie Mansion in protest over the delay in erecting low rent housing at Houston and Chrystie Streets" (New York Post caption).
The first part of a truncated plan was realized only in 1985.
New York Post photograph by Engel.

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