From filthy slum to Tudor City

Nineteenth century New York had plenty of poor neighborhoods. But one of the worst was Dutch Hill, a shantytown of squatters and rag-pickers near 42nd and Second Avenue. This undated illustration gives the general idea:


In the 1870s the city razed the shacks and constructed tenements and brownstones. The housing improved, but it was still a poverty-stricken, predominantly Irish area ruled by gangs and composed of unpleasant industries like tanneries, breweries, and slaughterhouses. And the Second Avenue elevated train roared ahead all day and night.

But not for long. In the mid-20s the huge Tudor City complex was built on the site. A dozen apartment houses with more than 3,000 residences, plus shops, a hotel, and landscaped parks sprang up, all in the English tudor style popular in the 1920s. Tudor City was kind of a suburb within the city, and today, it’s a pretty, tranquil, non-trendy enclave.

There’s a good reason the apartments feature very few window facing East. Developers didn’t want prospective residents turned off by the nasty sight and smell of the factories along the East River that still existed when Tudor City was completed.

For more information on Dutch Hill and Tudor City, click here.

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3 Responses to “From filthy slum to Tudor City”

  1. The “river rats” swimming in the East River « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] rocky cliff in the painting—perhaps it was part of the old Gashouse District in the East 20s or Dutch Hill in the East 40s and 50s, which became an industrial area packed with slaughterhouses and factories before being razed to […]

  2. Gentrification comes to Manhattan’s Dutch Hill | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] century Manhattan was dotted by lots of small villages. But few were as poor and wretched as Dutch Hill, centered around 42nd Street near the East […]

  3. DP Says:

    It’s my understanding that the east windows faced not factories, but slaughterhouses.

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