But it’s a different story with the Williamsburg Houses.
This group of 20 buildings on a sprawling site on Bushwick Avenue earned big props for its Modernist touches, designed in part by Swiss architect William Lescaze.
“When the complex opened in 1938, its design was revolutionary,” wrote The New York Times in 2003.
“Rather than follow the emerging public housing pattern of large red-brick apartment houses scattered across lawns, the development was four stories tall, clad in tan brick with decorative blue panels and European Modernist features like doorways sheltered by aluminum marquees.”
In their 1939 guide to New York City, the Federal Writers’ Project added that the 25-acre location was once home to 12 slum blocks.
“All apartments—two to five rooms—are equipped with electric stoves, refrigerators, and modern plumbing, and supplied with steam heat, hot and cold water.”
After a long post-war decline, the Williamsburg Houses underwent a restoration in the mid-1990s.
That turned up a hidden treasure: WPA murals by pioneering abstract artists. They’d been neglected for years and hidden behind coats of paint in community rooms.
Tags: history of public housing, Modernist architecture New York City, New York in the 1930s, Public Housing New York, Public Housing Projects NYC, slum clearance New York City, William Lescaze, Williamsburg Houses