Day 441

Manhattanville Houses

March 15th, 2013


  1. Steve says:

    The colored metal squares remind me of Shea Stadium prior to its renovation. In both cases, as Sarah Palin would say, “you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig”.
    A photo of Shea when new:

  2. Shaun says:

    This is the building I grew up in. It was very modern when built in 1961. Swiss-born architect William Lescaze (of PSFS Building fame) designed it in the International Style. The buildings were part of a very ambitious redevelopment plan in the area (with Robert Moses at the helm) – where several developments were built based on income levels. Manhattanville Houses was the middle income complex. Manhattanville’s design was the progressive one – departing from the usual cruciform or slab design. The metal panels fronted an enclosed “terrace” room on every floor – a cool space to play, watch the views (sunsets, city life). It was great for us kids when we were too young to go out unattended. You’re right – the metal panels are reminiscent of Shea Stadium, as it was a modern design element amongst pop architecture in the 1960s. Apartments weren’t terribly spacious (except huge kitchens) but the building was solid, fireproof and with great views. The building was well located at the crossroads of Harlem, Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights -between Columbia and City College. A very convenient place to live. Unfortunately, things declined in the late 70s/early 80s here (as in other parts of New York) and drugs and in the 90s gangs made living here untenable. While no longer the nice place it once was, the design is far more than lipstick on a pig – and deserves far better than sharing a paragraph with the likes of Sarah Palin.

  3. annette wilcox says:

    My family was one of first group of residents in these projects. They were great space. We had a view of both Palisades across the Hudson river and were mesmerized by sounds of people screaming on the roller coaster at the Palisades amusement park . To the east we could play downstairs in the playgroup and our mother could look out the window and keep an eye on us. The Y wide design of the property allowed for sweeping walkways to the entrance of the buildings. In the middle of Y was a rolling green space where our mother planted a garden. there were also 100 full grown trees planted when it opened. The panels echoed the block designs of Piet Mondrian which were popular at that time.
    Having lived in NY all my life i haven’t seen any other project since then to match this.
    In a few years I’m sure it will be converted into Columbia University Housing to go with their massive project in work across Broadway.

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