Rockefeller Family Involvement in New York Housing during the 1930s: European Models and the American Legacy

by Gaia Caramellino

Jan 1, 2009
While the history of New York federal public housing projects during the New Deal years has been intensely explored by scholars in different fields, little consideration has been given to the local discourse on low-cost housing promoted by private institutions, associations, families and foundations during the same years. In fact, as the role of philanthropy in the city development has been in some measure addressed by scholars in a number of essays ("Philanthropy and the City: A Historical Overview", Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Rockefeller Archive Center, September 2000, sponsored by Russell Sage Foundation and David Rockefeller), little of the American literature on public housing history pays particular attention to the significant role that philanthropy had in the development of housing for low-income families in New York urban fabric. Scholars working on the history of New York public housing (Plunz, 1990) and on the influence of foreign models in the development of a US housing debate during the Thirties (Pommer 1993), as well as the most recent studies in the field (Bloom 2008), usually focus on American bureaucracy and governmental agencies and rarely attempt to highlight the significant role that European architects and ideas had in the development of new social housing programs for New York.
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