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Bronx River Houses

Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Housing project important in hip hop history
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By Elena Martínez/City Lore

Less than one mile south of Bronx Park and the Bronx Zoo, along the Bronx River, nestled between the neighborhoods of West Farms and Soundview lies the Bronx River Housing Project. Completed February 28th, 1951, it comprises nine 14-story residential buildings, containing 1,247 apartments.  It currently houses 3,025 residents.

The Bronx River Houses were built as the construction of public housing in New York peaked.  In the 1950s the New York City Housing Authority built an average of 7,500 units built a year, and began to build large high rise projects in areas like East Harlem, central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx.  Sixteen public housing projects were completed in the Bronx, nine of which were in the eastern area of the borough, giving the Bronx the largest concentration of public housing in the U.S. To make room for so much housing massive “slum clearance” leveled block after block of Melrose, Mott Haven and Claremont. Built in a neighborhood that was mostly a Jewish community prior to World War II, by the 1980s, Bronx River housed mostly Blacks and Latinos.