Every October, Jim Torain mails out invitations for the annual reunion of his community, which was displaced 60 years ago by one of the first urban renewal projects in New York City. In 1951, Torain’s home and those of his neighbors on West 99th Street were destroyed as part of the Manhattantown project, which razed six blocks on the Upper West Side to build housing for middle-income residents.Title I of the 1949 Housing Act, known as the “urban renewal” program, allowed for local governments to use eminent domain to seize private property. In the 1950s and ’60s, urban renewal initiatives uprooted more than 2,000 communities in New York City.
Read an interview with filmmaker Jim Torian at Channel Thirteen.
Something similar to the destruction of West 99th Street occurred where University Heights sits today. New mid-century middle class housing and shopping replaced an earlier dense neighborhood that was defined as a “slum.”
And it’s always targeted at people of color. Notice that?
And yes I’m aware of what is University Heights was before its current incarnation.
But I’m thankful that by and large, Providence escaped urban renewal.