The Museum of the City of New York dives deep into the complex history of New York City’s government-subsidized housing in a topical exhibition opening Friday.
“Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy” surveys 150 years of affordable housing initiatives in New York, from the housing laws created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in response to the dire conditions of overcrowded tenements to the current and upcoming housing plans of the de Blasio administration.
The legacy of many public figures is also assessed — from Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who in 1934 implemented the first subsidized housing project not only in the city, but in the entire United States, to controversial trailblazers such as Robert Moses, the “master builder.”
Curator and architectural historian Thomas Mellins said the exhibition was designed “to show this moment that we’re at is part of a historic continuum.”
“New York’s portfolio of affordable housing is larger and more varied than many people realize, including redbrick developments, individual apartment buildings, row houses and even detached single-family homes,” Mellins said.
Scale models and photographs explore various New York City housing projects over the decades, while historical items and documents on view include housing brochures from the 1930s and ’40s, art posters and a 1972 city document filed by Bob Dylan regarding his Greenwich Village home.
Interactive maps and digital games also allow visitors to explore their own neighborhoods, providing facts and statistics in an engaging manner.
For anyone curious about the history of the city’s public housing, this exhibition is a must-see.
If you go: “Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy” opens Friday and is on view through Feb. 16. Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave., 212-534-1672. Suggested admission: Adults $14, Seniors & Students $10, Under 20 FREE. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.