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Harlem River Houses Sculptures

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WPA sculptures in a landmark public housing development

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Central Harlem
Public Art, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

On The Web

Barthé: A Life in Sculpture (see page 83)
Heinz Warneke, 1895-1983: A Sculptor First and Last (see pg. 81)


Neil Cohen

On the campus of the Harlem River Houses are wonderful WPA (Works Progress Administration) cast sculptures, two of which celebrate African American culture. The work was done by a team headed by a Jewish emigre escaping Nazi Germany (Heinz Warneke) and which included a prominent and gifted black sculptor (James Richmond Barthe).

This was a black housing development, one of the first, which was a departure from dense and inhumane tenement life--lots of light and air. It was also one of the first four federally funded housing developments for the New York Housing Authority and NYC. This landmarked housing development has always been a centerpiece of African American life in Harlem since its construction in 1937.

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