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Amalgamated Housing Cooperative

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Cooperative housing built in the 1920's and still existing

Place Details

Borough : Bronx
Neighborhood : Kingsbridge
Residential, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

By Emma Jacobs

Abraham Kazan did not originally intend to build housing. Working in the garment workers unions in Lower Manhattan at the beginning of twentieth century, Kazan's first political cause was cooperation, a utopian vision that held special promise for progressive thinkers in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Kazan himself organized a string of cooperative projects, from a chain of cooperative groceries to cooperative coal and ice distribution to a cooperative hat shop. In the 1920s, working for Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (ACWU), one of the pioneers of new unionism--labor organizing which extended its goals beyond the shoproom floor--Kazan started the Amalgamated's cooperative credit union. Meetings soon became progressive gatherings and weekly conversations kept returning to homes for workers.

Housing, for many, seemed a natural ally with the political idealism and collectivism of the trade-unionism which dominated Jewish life on the Lower East Side, particularly because the...

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Amalgamated Housing Cooperative


Roselyn Bresnick Perry

In the 1920s, it was housing for unions--socialist, utopian co-op--a real co-op where you got your share back when you left. It was Yiddish by the 1940s. Postwar, Holocaust refugees brought an extraordinary cultural atmosphere with weddings and concerts by resident musicians, a Mandolin Club, lectures on Jewish writers, day care, a camp, a grocery store, a tea room, a credit union, and constant political discussions. During the Depression, there was a call for residents to set up loan pool for those in need. Relatives of residents got first choice for many years; Co-op City was built on some precepts of Amalgamated.

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