Posts Tagged ‘Riverton Houses’

New York’s segregated past

September 2, 2008

The Riverton, a 12-acre complex between 135th and 138th Streets on Fifth Avenue in Harlem, sure looks like Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, down to the identical red-brick apartment houses and the same grassy space between buildings.

No wonder; Riverton may be smaller, but all three working- and middle-class communities were built in the 1940s by Metropolitan Life. 

Yet something is different about Riverton: The seven apartment buildings were put up as an alternative for African-Americans seeking to live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Met Life built those complexes for white tenants only, a policy that officially stuck until 1950.

MetLife sold Riverton in 1976. The new owners have made headlines recently because they’re about to default on the mortgage. And of course, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village have gone upscale now that they’re owned by Tishman Speyer.